The vision of the Global Christian Forum is simple but bold: Can the four main “families” of the Christian community—Orthodox, historic Protestant, evangelical/pentecostal, and Catholic—be brought into intentional, ongoing fellowship on the global level?
For several years this fragile initiative has worked with scarce funding and minimal recognition. But the Global Christian Forum (GCF) has begun producing promising fruit.
An example is found in regional consultations on the GCF, the first of which was in Asia in May 2004. Richard Howell, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, said the Global Christian Forum “is the best thing that could have happened to the Christian church in Asia. It created an open space where people could come together for the first time to share their stories and faith journey.” Howell said the GCF was especially important because “The church in Asia is growing, and growth brings challenges. The Global Christian Forum gave an opportunity for those from different traditions to listen. We discovered one another. And we discovered Christ at work within our different traditions.”
Last August, the Global Christian Forum held its African regional consultation in Lusaka, Zambia. About 70 church leaders from all parts of Africa, and all parts of Christ’s body, gathered together. They represented denominations and Christian organizations that included Baptist, Anglican, pentecostal, Reformed, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventist, evangelical, and Lutheran churches, as well as the All Africa Christian Council, the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, the World Student Christian Federation, World Vision, the United Bible Societies, the African Theological Fellowship, various national councils of churches, and the African Instituted Churches.
Why was this so important? Simply because it had never happened before. Ekow Badu Wood of the Ghana Pentecostal Council put it this way: “This has been a beautiful opportunity for churches that have been marginalized to be given the opportunity to speak.”
Wesley Granberg-Michaelson is general secretary of the Reformed Church in America. His latest book is Leadership from Inside Out: Spirituality and Organizational Change.