The Global Christian Forum Story and Vision
The Global Christian Forum aims to create a place, independent of existing structures, for the growing unity of the global church.
The concept of a new, independent space was first proposed by Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser, at that time General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. It was entrusted to an autonomous Continuation Committee, which since 1998 has convened various meetings in order to refine and advance this vision.
Following smaller gatherings, an International Consultation was held at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, USA, in September 2000, and another in June 2002. The latter brought together almost 60 participants from Catholic, Orthodox (Eastern and Oriental), Anglican, Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Holiness and African Instituted churches, and from a number of international Christian organisations, many representing Evangelical and Pentecostal constituencies.
People came from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America. They developed a provisional Purpose Statement, describing the scope and objectives that the Forum might pursue (now called the Guiding Purpose Statement).
Based on the previous consultations, contacts and discussions between 1998 and 2002, the Continuation Committee developed a four-year plan. A series of Consultations in the major regions of the world over the period 2004 – 2007 brought an increasingly widening circle of people to the table.
REGIONAL CONSULTATIONS, 2004-2007
The regional consultations took place in Asia (Hong Kong, from 30 April to 4 May 2004), Africa (Lusaka, Zambia from 9 to 13 August 2005), Europe (Warburg, Germany from 19 to 22 June 2006), and in Latin America (Santiago, Chile from 26 to 29 June 2007). Each one was placed under the theme of Our Journey with Jesus Christ and was attended by some 60 participants from all parts of the region and all parts of Christ’s body.
For many it was their first-ever experience of encounter with some Christian traditions other than their own. In the words of a Pentecostal participant in the Africa meeting: “This has been a beautiful opportunity for churches that have been marginalized to be given the possibility to speak.”
This process made it possible to call together a truly representative global gathering of Christian leaders in November 2007.
“History made at Global Forum,” “Historic Breakthrough,” and “New Day for Evangelicals in World Christianity” were among the titles of press releases reporting on the Global Forum event that took place on 6 – 9 November at Jumuia Conference and Country Home in Limuru, near Nairobi, Kenya. It was the culmination of the nine-year process that began in 1998. As planned, it brought together over 230 leaders of all the main Christian traditions from all parts of the world.
They strongly affirmed the ‘compelling vision’ of the Global Christian Forum, approved a set of Proposals for the Future of the Forum and issued a Message to all brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world.
The list of participating Churches, church families and organisations at the end of the Message reflects the unprecedented breadth of representation of the event. (The full list of participants, the Message, other documents from the event, and proposals made at this event for the continuation of the Global Christian Forum can be found on our Limuru 2007 page.)
REGIONAL & SUB-REGIONAL MEETINGS, 2008-2010
The second round of consultations and regional/sub-regional meetings took place between 2008 and 2010, before the Manado Global Gathering in 2011.
Consultation on 3 Year Program: New Delhi, India from 8 to 11 November 2008 Purpose: Participants identified key objectives for the next 3 years.
Middle East Team Visit: Egypt, Lebanon and Syria from 20 to 30 June 2009 – A team of Committee members and some representatives from these three countries visit the region where no consultation had previously taken place.
Africa Regional Meeting: near Accra, Ghana from 16 to 20 November 2009
Nordic-Baltic Sub-regional Meeting: Lathi, Netherlands from 28 to 30 September 2010
Asia Regional Meeting: Seoul, Korea from 12 to 16 November 2010
Latin America Regional Meeting: San José, Costa Rica from 23 to 25 November 2010
The second global gathering of the forum took place in Manado, Indonesia in October 2011. There, the 287 participants affirmed the journey so far, and the meeting issued both a Manado message, and guidelines for the future.
One of the commitments made in both Limuru and Manado was for the Global Christian Forum to provide a means of “addressing common challenges” for the global church. After careful deliberation by committee over many months, a challenge was identified: the persecution of Christians. A historic global consultation eventually took place in Tirana, Albania (2-4 November, 2015) with great consideration for the diversity of Christian backgrounds, the safety of participants, and the voices of “suffering churches” being well represented.
REGIONAL CONSULTATIONS & SUB-REGIONAL MEETINGS, 2012-2017
Several more consultations and regional/sub-regional meetings took place between 2012 and 2017.
The Pentecostal Forum of Latin America and the Caribbean: Southern Cone Meeting (Santiago, Chile from 13 to 15 November 2012), Andean Sub-regional Meeting (Bogotá, Colombia from 15 to 17 October 2013), Central America and the Caribbean Sub-regional Meeting (Pachuca, Mexico from 30 September to 2 October 2014), Brazil Sub-regional Meeting (Sao Paulo, Brazil from 27 to 29 May 2015), and the Continental Meeting (Panama, from 21 to 23 November 2016).Purpose: To extend relationships between Pentecostals and other Christians.
First Middle East Consultation: Amman, Jordan from 8 to 9 April 2013 – This Appeal was issued.
Caribbean Consultation: Tunapuna, Trinidad & Tobago from 20 to 23 May 2013.
Second Middle East Consultation: Beirut, Lebanon from 25 to 28 May 2016
The third GCF Global Gathering took place April 23 – 28, 2018 in Bogotá, Colombia, on the theme, ‘Let mutual love continue’ (Hebrews 13:1).
The Third Global Gathering brought together over 250 church leaders reflecting the breadth and depth of world Christianity.
With a 50:50 ratio between “older” churches (Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican) and “younger” churches (Evangelical, Pentecostal, Independent). At least half of the participant were attending a Global Christian Forum gathering for the first time.
This was the first GCF global gathering to take place on the South American continent and the first in a Spanish-speaking nation.
Additional documents from the history of the GCF can be found here.