Representatives of a variety of Christian traditions including the World Council of Churches (WCC) met 9-11 September in Pasadena, California, USA, to discuss the formation of a forum of Christian churches and ecumenical organizations that goes "beyond the present ecumenical structures". Participants have developed a possible framework for the future Forum so that "churches from a wider range of traditions may have a common space to discuss issues of mutual concern". Mr Georges Lemopoulos, deputy general secretary of the World Council of Churches, welcomed the outcome of this meeting "as a step forward in the efforts to bring the various expressions of today's Christianity around the common table for dialogue and cooperation".
The full text of the communiqué from the meeting issued on 11 September is as follows:
"Thirty representatives from throughout the world gathered from 9-11 September 2000 at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, to explore the idea of a Global Christian Forum that would include a wide spectrum of churches and organizations. Those present came from Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Reformation Protestant, Pentecostal and Evangelical churches as well as Christian networks and para-church organizations.
Although the idea of such a Forum originally arose in conversations within the World Council of Churches, the development of a proposal is now under the leadership of an independent continuation committee. The discussions at the meeting explored ways to go beyond the present ecumenical structures so that churches from a wider range of traditions may have a common space to discuss issues of mutual concern.
Papers were presented on the history of inter-church relations from Evangelical, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Anglican, Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives. The realities of regional challenges were presented by representatives from Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Middle East and North America. Hopes and expectations of churches organized on the world-level, as well as traditional state churches and independent or free churches, were openly and frankly discussed.
The representatives agreed on the possible contours of a future Forum that would include the following purposes:
In the spirit of John 17:21 "that all of them may be one . . . so that the world may believe that you have sent me" and because of our common faith in a reconciling God (II Cor. 5:18-21), the forum is intended:
To deepen our commitment to God's mission in the world;
To enhance our understanding of contemporary expressions of Christian mission (Matt. 28:19,20, Matt. 22: 37-39, John 20:21 and Acts 1:8);
To pursue principles and practices that would enable us to handle our Christian differences and distinctives creatively and peaceably;
To engage in theological reflection in areas of common concern;
To strengthen the wholeness of the church by encouraging communication and cooperation; and
To foster relationships that may lead to common witness.
Further work on the proposal will be carried out by the continuation committee over the next few months.
The meeting was marked by an atmosphere of mutual partnership, trust and consensus building and was undergirded by warm and deep fellowship."
Members of the Continuation Committee present at the Consultation on the Forum Proposal:
Rev. Dr Hilarion Alfeyev, Moscow Patriarchate, Russian Orthodox Church
Rev. Canon David Hamid, The Anglican Communion
Metropolitan Yohana Ibrahim, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch
Rev. Canon David Perry, Episcopal Church USA
Mgr. John Radano, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Dr Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., Fuller Theological Seminary
Dr George Vandervelde, Institute for Christian Studies
Mr. Hubert van Beek, secretary