24 April 2024

The opening service at the Global Christian Forum (Photo: Albin Hillert)
Opening worship at the Global Christian Forum (Photo: Albin Hillert)

Commissioner Jane Paone (Secretary for International Ecumenical Relations), Colonel Alfred Banda (Territorial Commander of Zambia Territory) and Dr Petra Brooke (Norway, Iceland and The Færoes Territory) represented The Salvation Army at the Global Christian Forum (GCF).

The GCF is an international ecumenical body that brings together global Christian churches and organisations from all the major streams of world Christianity. It is an opportunity for a wide array of Christian leaders to meet to nurture unity by fostering mutual respect and understanding, as well as by addressing common challenges together.

That the world may know

General Lyndon Buckingham sent greetings to the GCF Secretary, Reverend Dr Casely Essamuah, and to all the delegates, which were read on the final day. The theme, ‘That the World May Know’ (John 17:23 ESV), reminded delegates that unity is not the end goal of the High Priestly Prayer, but that we are all sent out into the world to show love that breaks down barriers. Within our fractured earth, we are living witnesses to the fact that opposites can attract! Through the Spirit’s power at work in us, we join together to act for the restoration of the world. Those looking on become curious to know more about the One who reconciles. 

‘This experience was like a wonderful international Salvation Army testimony period! Remember when people were given space to share their faith story? They would return home with the sermon in their minds but, most of all, with a sense of wonder at God’s amazing grace at work,’ reports Commissioner Paone.

Commissioner Paone takes part in a group discussion at the Global Christian Forum (Photo: Albin Hillert)
Commissioner Paone takes part in a group discussion at the Global Christian Forum (Photo: Albin Hillert)

Nearly 250 people attended the forum where, for the first time, a two-day GCF youth gathering was held before the younger participants joined the main GCF. The 25th anniversary of the GCF was also celebrated. Reverend Dr Richard Howell from the Caleb Institute in India, present at the outset, witnessed enthusiastically: ‘The GCF is relational, testimonial, missional…and transformational – and it transformed me!’

Prayers of lament and reconciliation

The message of ‘That the world may know’ was made more poignant with a visit to one of the Cape Coast slave-trade castles. Prayers of lament and reconciliation were offered in the Methodist church, built above the dungeons where thousands of slaves had cried out for freedom and justice before being deported on ships. All denominations present were saddened by the magnitude of this inhumane operation, aware that modern slavery continues even today. A Jamaican female preacher, Reverend Merlyn Hyde Riley, used the visit to remind the delegates to act with integrity, aware that one day each person will be called to give an account to God (Job 31:13-14). In a moment of lament that we had not treated our brothers and sisters as those made in the image of God, various church leaders led a time of repentance and heartfelt prayers.

As Salvationists, sent into the world and part of the Body of Christ, we are conscious of the Risen Christ in each encounter and witness his love without discrimination.

Commissioner Jane Paone
Secretary for International Ecumenical Relations

Tags: Africa, Ecumenism, News