A former World Council of Churches director, Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, says there is a need for closer work with previously isolated Christian traditions such as Evangelicals and Pentecostals.
"We are living in the most significant times of change in Christian history, depicting a shift in the presence of the world's Christians," said Granberg-Michaelson in Geneva, Switzerland.
Granberg-Michaelson who was general secretary of the Reformed Church in America for 17 years until 2011, was at seminar on September 11 aimed strengthening the relationships between the WCC and the Global Christian Forum.
"This shift is not only visible to the South, but also to the East. We are observing a spiritual resurgence of non-Western Christianity throughout the world," said Granberg-Michaelson, who is author of a book titled From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church.
The Global Christian Forum operates as a network for diverse churches and Christian organizations, promoting meetings among churches and traditions which previously have had contacts.
The WCC is a grouping of churches including more than 500 million Christians that includes most of the world's Orthodox churches, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches.
Granberg-Michaelson stressed the significance of councils and forums in seeking Christian unity, especially as part of preparations for the WCC's upcoming assembly, to be held from October 30 through November 8 in Busan, South Korea.
"On our way to Busan, we need to ask ourselves what is the scope of these changes and what does this mean for our common search towards Christian unity," noted Granberg-Michaelson who served for six years on the WCC as director of church and society in Geneva before taking up his post at the RCA.
"One problem with the modern ecumenical movement with the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches is it ended up, not by design, excluding huge parts of the Christian family," said Rev. Granberg-Michaelson in an interview with Religion News Service in August 2011.
The GCF was established in the 1990s following a call from the WCC 8th Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe and was founded to bring together churches and organizations not structurally part of the WCC with those already engaged in councils of churches.
The Geneva seminar brought together representatives of the WCC and GCF, along with members of other international ecumenical organizations.
The GCF was established in the 1990s following a call from the WCC 8th Assembly in Harare and was founded to bring together churches and organizations not structurally part of the WCC with those already engaged in councils of churches.
The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, spoke at the Geneva seminar about "conciliar ecumenism and the role of councils in rapidly changing ecclesial landscapes," referring to formal councils and conferences of churches at national, regional and international levels.
Quoting St. Paul's letter to the Romans, Tveit stressed the need of "welcoming one another, appreciating one another and calling one another in Christian unity" despite differences in traditions and practices.
The importance of Christian unity is significantly reflected in the theme of the WCC's Busan assembly, "God of life, lead us to justice and peace," Tveit continued.
He said that "to seek Christian unity we have to recognize the importance of mutual accountability, which is the pulse of conciliar ecumenism. With this spirit, we can turn the challenges of division into opportunities and work together towards justice and peace."