Global Christian Forum International Committee Meeting

Narrative Report

3 September 2020
Virtual Meeting

The Global Christian Forum’s International Committee met virtually, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, on September 3, 2020. Members joined from around the world to reflect on the changing role of the church, and the Global Christian Forum, during the ongoing pandemic. 

The meeting began with prayer (offered by Thomas Shirrmacher) and the reading of a reflection paper prepared by Hubert van Beek. Then, each participant had a chance to share their reactions to the paper, as well as any personal or church updates.

Many echoed the importance of strategically increasing the participation of young leaders in GCF activities. The group sees young people as less interested in dogmatic conversations, or conversations mainly about theology and polity, and more interested in shared action on issues, especially issues of justice such as migration and climate change. As a way to do this, one suggestion was to focus on a pathway to leadership that begins initially with an invitation to participation, allowing faith stories of young voices to be heard. Then, as those young leaders gain more influence within their communions, they will feel more agency and a stronger roles with GCF as well. We were challenged to consider what each committee member’s role is, not only the GCF Secretary, to reach out to young leaders.

The group highlighted the importance of focusing efforts and energy on local, national, and regional relationships. In many places, the diversity that GCF enjoys on the international level does not exist. In other places (i.e. India), there are stories of great collaboration which should be celebrated. Often, when those leaders meet, they wonder why they never have done so, and then become a catalyst for local church leaders to do the same. 

In reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic, the group noted that a changing reality is also an opportunity. As we seek to deepen trust between national and regional leaders, and as we seek to address the sometimes-dueling goals of mission and unity, The forum has an important asset in its ability to be nimble and responsive, as well as the strength in the breadth of our communion. We must discern how to move toward action. One suggested step was to organize time for leaders to engage in spiritual retreat together, with no business to attend to other than sharing in spiritual nurture.

Housekeeping details included a reminder of the upcoming Dec. 3 committee meeting, the availability of the Discrimination, Persecution, and Martyrdom book resource (in hard copy and PDF format), and encouragement to engage on the GCF Facebook, Youtube, and website. The meeting closed with a prayer from St. Francis of Assisi, the “Canticle of Creation”, offered by Fr. Andrzej Choromanski.