Magazine article The Christian Century

Vatican Leader, Others Call Global Christian Forum Vital Innovation

Magazine article The Christian Century

Vatican Leader, Others Call Global Christian Forum Vital Innovation

Article excerpt

A senior Vatican official says the Roman Catholic Church welcomes the start of the Global Christian Forum--a new body intended to bring together the diverse strands of Christianity as never before.

"When Christians are divided, the preaching of the gospel suffers and this is a pain we all have to feel," said Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in addressing the inaugural November 6-9 meeting of the forum near Nairobi, Kenya.

The 240 leaders from Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, evangelical, Pentecostal and other churches agreed in a concluding statement: "Recognizing that unity is first and foremost God's gift through the work of the Holy Spirit, our commitment is to press on in promoting ever greater understanding and cooperation among Christians, while respecting the diversity of our identities, traditions and individual gifts."

The forum idea was proposed in the mid-1990s by Konrad Raiser, a German theologian who was then general secretary of the World Council of Churches, whose 347 member churches are drawn mostly from Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox traditions.

The forum in Kenya, which followed enthusiastic regional versions held in recent years, is believed to have brought together the broadest range of Christian traditions ever for a global meeting.

The turnout, while planned well in advance, pleased the organizers. "I am stunned. We have here what might be described as a new Pentecost," said Fuller Seminary professor Cecil (Mel) Robeck, an Assemblies of God minister and a veteran ecumenist. …

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