Global Christian Forum International Committee Meeting
Narrative Report 22-23 February 2021
After beginning in prayer, each day started with presentations that intersected with the work and witness of GCF. On the first day, Drs Todd Johnson and Gina Zurlo introduced the third volume of the World Christian Encyclopedia. On the second day, Dr Dana Robert spoke to us about Christian friendship. Both presentations generated interesting discussion and gave us valuable springboards as we moved our discussions towards a focus on the work of GCF.
As a way into discussing the future of the forum, Wes Granberg-Michaelson spoke about his recent article for Una Sancta. The feedback generated revolved around a few specific themes. There was general support to commit to regional meetings as a way of preparing the ground for a 4th Global Gathering. Regional meetings are a good place for some of the necessary healing and bridge-building to take place before the larger sharing that takes place in global gatherings. It was strongly suggested that these regional gatherings intentionally invite youth representatives as a way of learning from them and from the grassroots initiatives that youth are involved in. It was also suggested that we might need to focus on some framing questions and make sure that the shape of the forum is still serving us. It was felt that we need to make sure that GCF is becoming more visible in order that trust may be built so that more Christians and churches might engage with our work. We must focus our communications efforts on improving this visibility.
The idea of building times of spiritual retreat into each in-person gathering was discussed. There was general consensus that this was a fruitful and hopeful idea. There were questions about what it is that we would be trying to achieve at these retreat times, outside of personal spiritual growth and deepening relationships between participants. It was pointed out that all true retreats bring our focus outwards to the needs of the wider community in order that we might be firm in our solidarity with the suffering of the world. It was decided to pursue this discussion at a future time.
There was discussion about the next global gathering and support for a date in 2024. Many participants wanted to get a date on the calendar soon, for a gathering in 2024. It was agreed that earlier in the year would be preferable, especially as other global church bodies have their meetings that year. It was strongly suggested to make sure we invite youth participants, to learn from them and receive their energy and hope for the work of the Church in the world. Members of the Committee were encouraged to join a focus group for the planning of this gathering, for which they felt they had energy and vision. Reports will be brought to the next Committee meeting in June, to allow a date and location to be chosen.
Jean-Daniel Plüss spoke about the article he wrote concerning the challenges to ecumenism posed by Covid-19. In summary, it was a hopeful exploration of Christian responses to past pandemics and the breadth of ecumenical responses to our current situation. In discussion it was noted that this pandemic has acted as a CAT scan of the world, exposing more places of injustice and inequity. The structure of the church, already changed in these virtual times, will continue to evolve. Some felt that the increase in virtual gatherings broke down barriers because entering an online space can be easier and less fraught with expectation and fear.
As always, each participant was invited to share their faith story, resulting in a rich expression of the presence of God in our midst. It was heartening to hear participants speak of their struggles, the struggles of the communities they are a part of, but also of the hope their faith gives them in such a time as this. Finally time was given to say goodbye to two International Committee members who will be leaving us – Aiah Foday-Khabenje and Georgine Kengne Djeutane. Many words of gratitude and love were shared by members thanking them for their time serving the forum in this way. We will miss their presence with us and send them to their new ventures with our deep appreciation and in the care of God.
The next International Committee meeting will take place virtually on June 3rd, 2021.
For further information visit www.GlobalChristianForum.org or email
The Global Christian Forum (GCF) is a unique gathering of global Christian churches and organisations bringing together all the major streams of world Christianity. It is an open space where all Christians can meet to nurture unity by fostering mutual respect and understanding as well as by addressing together common challenges. Represented in the GCF are many Christian World Communions and world Christian organisations, including the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pentecostal World Fellowship, the World Evangelical Alliance and the World Council of Churches. The GCF secretary is Rev. Dr. Casely Essamuah.