The Global Christian Forum Story and Vision
The Global Christian Forum aims to create such a place, independent of existing structures. 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, see under About Us: 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. This process made it possible to call together a truly representative global gathering of Christian leaders in November 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 of them 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.”
“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 and the Message can be found under Limuru 2007, where the proposals for the continuation of the Global Christian Forum and documents are also made available.
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.