New York, NY - November 13, 2015
In response to increasing 'discrimination, persecution and violence' against Christian communities around the world, a historic consultation of Christian leaders has called on churches globally to pray, support and be in solidarity with those suffering persecution due to their faith. An initiative of the Global Christian Forum, the consultation that brought together 145 church leaders from 56 nations was supported by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Vatican), the Pentecostal World Fellowship, and the World Council of Churches. Together, they represent more than two billion Christians.
The gathering, held in Tirana, Albania from November 2-4, was the first time in modern history that every stream of global Christianity had joined together to listen and learn from Christians who experience discrimination, persecution and violence.
“As Christians, we follow a Lord who was crucified as a criminal. The good news that Jesus brought was a threat both to civil and religious powers of his day, so it should come as no surprise to us that persecution will likely follow for those who follow Jesus. And yet… we come together because the gospel also says NO to persecution,” Bp Efraim Tendero, Secretary General of the WEA, said in his remarks to participants.
“Despite the differences that separate some of our communities of faith, the current crises around the world demand that together we collaborate for those who suffer persecution and martyrdom,” he added.
In its final message - another historic first for World Christianity - the consultation offered “repentance” for times when churches had “persecuted each other and other religious communities in history.” And it called on churches “to urgently strengthen the solidarity of all Christians” in the face of discrimination, persecution and martyrdom in the 21st century.
Specifically, the message urged:
Christians to pray for those who are discriminated against and persecuted;
Christian organizations at regional, national and local levels from all traditions to learn, pray and work together for the persecuted;
Churches to engage in dialogue and co-operation with other faith communities, and be watchful and fearless in the face of discrimination and persecution.
The consultation also called on governments to “respect and protect the freedom of religion and belief of all people as a fundamental human right.”
It was co-hosted by the Albanian Evangelical Alliance in a country where communism sought to violently wipe out anything related to religion, destroying churches, mosques and other places of worship. However, in the 1990s Albania returned to granting full religious freedom to all major and minor religions.
> Full Consultation Message (pdf)
> Bp Efraim Tendero's Final Remarks (pdf)
> The Biblical Basis for Human Rights and Religious Freedom (by WEA's Godfrey Yogarajah & Thomas Schirrmacher, pdf)
> Full text of Consultation Message (in English, Spanish, French), images, stories and video footage: http://resources.globalchristianforum.org
Over two billion Christians in the world today are represented by three world church bodies. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is one of those, serving and representing more than 600 million evangelicals. Launched in 1846 to unite evangelicals worldwide, the WEA continues to be a dynamic movement with 7 regional and 129 national Evangelical Alliances, and over 150 member organizations. WEA's mission is to speak as a trusted voice, to equip members and leaders for global impact and to connect its members and others for common action in the furtherance of God’s reign.