The World Council of Churches (WCC) and Global Christian Forum, in a signing ceremony, affirmed their unique roles in their mutual quest for Christian unity. The agreement marks an historic milestone in the longtime collaboration between the two organizations.
The Global Christian Forum was established in the 1990s following a call from the WCC 8th Assembly in Harare.
“We rejoice in the existence and in the witness of the Global Christian Forum to our common calling to bear witness together to the reconciliation and unity of all things in Jesus Christ, God and Saviour,” said WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca.
Sauca added that he rejoiced in the signing of the memorandum that facilitates the cooperation between the two bodies. “We pray that the Global Christian Forum will be blessed in its service to Christian unity,” he said.
Rev. Dr Casely Baiden Essamuah, secretary of the Global Christian Forum, also rejoiced at the signing of the memorandum. Essamuah highlighted the complementary roles of both entities, along with the “recognition that the calling for Christian unity requires, indeed deserves, more than one expression of ecumenical commitment and cooperation.”
Both Sauca and Essamuah expressed joy at the recognition of the pivotal role of the four pillars—“namely the WCC, World Evangelical Alliance, Pentecostal World Fellowship and the Roman Catholic Church through the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.”
Essamuah added: “We look forward to the future with great hope as we all work to advance progress on the church’s calling to pursue Christian unity.”
“It was reaffirmed that Global Christian Forum is a platform and a forum, not an institution in itself,” reads the memorandum of understanding, referring to the evolution of the forum. “It has a structure required for administrative purposes but does not itself initiate ‘institutional’ programmes.”
The Global Christian Forum will provide narrative reports of its gatherings and activities, the memorandum clarifies. “Exchanging faith stories of individuals and their churches and perspectives on shared concerns helps Christians to recognize Christ in one another and one another in Christ, to see the communities they represent as places where faith is expressed and nurtured, and, on the basis of new or renewed relationship, to address together matters of common interest,” reads the text. “The WCC will provide annually an undesignated financial contribution.”
Those attending the signing and present at the ceremony also expressed appreciation for the the memorandum, which they regarded as the fruit of many discussions over the years.
: Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, general secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, said it was gracious of the WCC to agree to be just one pillar of several and not to ask for some kind of control over its former child. “As one of the pillars, we want to follow this example and give the GCF the necessary space for Christians and churches not involved globally yet, to freely and unconditionally meet others.” he said.
Fr Andrzej Choromański, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, expressed appreciation for the way in which the Catholic Church continues to be involved. “There is a need to have this space which has been conceived,” he said. “This memorandum of understanding is the fruit of many discussions. We will continue to be a part of the Global Christian Forum and we see the future of this unifying platform.”
Dr Billy Wilson, Pentecostal World Federation, thanked those who helped forge the agreement. “I consider it a healthy place of dialogue, relationship-building, and love,” he said. “What I’ve found in the Global Christian Forum is a great place for dialogue—but an even better place to make friends and share the love of Jesus with one another.”