One of the world’s most recent ecumenical entities, the Global Christian Forum (GCF), met in late January with Vatican officials, affirming a desire to continue to journey together in the search for Christian unity.
In his first GCF committee meeting since becoming secretary of the organization on Jan. 1, the Rev. Larry Miller said the invitation to meet in Rome by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and subsequent conversations indicated “a consolidation of the shared commitment to build bridges between all churches.”
“Our relationship with the Catholic Church is of the highest order, and on our part reflects our desire to go further on our common journey with Jesus Christ,” Miller said.
The GCF brings together the broadest range of Christian communions, traditions and organizations, reflecting all the streams of global Christianity. This includes the World Council of Churches, The World Evangelical Alliance, the Pentecostal World Fellowship and the Catholic Church through its Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
During the Rome meeting, Pope Benedict XVI welcomed the GCF during the vespers service at St. Paul Outside the Walls basilica, marking the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Bishop Brian Farrell of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity told the GCF committee that he deeply appreciated the goodwill and the vision behind the Global Christian Forum, even if at first it was “not necessarily love at first sight.”
Farrell said there was a clear sense of the GCF’s presence and progress, and that it was important to now articulate theologically and programmatically the work of the movement.
“The ecumenical task and the theological dialogue, while going on for so long, must continue to produce results.
“The battle cries of the past were so intense ― there are whole libraries written on them ― but we cannot let that keep us down, despite this being such a major quest on such a large scale. At the end of the day it’s God’s work under the guidance of the Spirit,” Farrell said.
Miller said the GCF committee had developed an outline of activities for the next several years and resolved to “reflect on and articulate theologically the meaning” of the GCF's journey with Christ.
“Following successful global gatherings in Limuru, Kenya (2007) and Manado, Indonesia last year we will now consider the journey so far, as well continue our work to bring Christians from across the entire spectrum of churches together at global, regional, and national levels,” Miller said.
Former GCF secretary Hubert van Beek will continue to act as a consultant to the Global Christian Forum, seeing through some regional consultations begun under his tenure, as well as other duties.