CWM General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum delivered a speech on “Life-flourishing Witness in a Multi-faith Context” at the Global Christian Forum (GCF) held on 14-17 October in Seoul, which gathers Christian leaders from diverse traditions and regions to meet on equal ground and mutual respect to address together the common challenges for the unity of the global churches.

The Global Christian Forum (GCF) is a unique gathering of global Christian churches and organisations bringing together all the major streams of world Christianity. All the traditions in the global Christian family are present within the GCF, including: African Instituted, Anglican, Catholic, Charismatic, Evangelical, Orthodox, Pentecostal, and Protestant, as well as mega churches, migrant churches, and contemplative communities.

In his speech, he remarked that the ecumenical movement is wider than the unity of different Christian traditions, and Christians should include and work together with people from other faiths towards fullness of life for all creation, especially during a time of rising global demand for interfaith encounters.

With God’s mission entrusted to the church, the CWM General Secretary emphasized that to discern and discover vital action the Church should undertake in the current post-pandemic, war-stricken world, we should engage in mission as a prophetic dialogue. This refers to open, genuine, and Spirit-led dialogue in the church and building authentic relationships with those we minister to.

Drawing on the familiar analogy of God being on top of a mountain with many pathways leading to the truth, he asked, “are we (religions) all climbing the same mountain?” and shared that according to Mark Heim, “we are climbing different mountains, and the truths that could be found on the top are all not all the same”.

To make the journey from interfaith dialogue to interfaith cooperation, he proposed a “pilgrimage of climbing down from the mountain to meet, listen, dialogue and work for and with the people”, for it is in the valley where we can meet people of other faiths, live in a community and live out the truth.

Explaining that the direction of the missionary movement is to descend to the valley rather than a mountain ascent, he said: “An authentic missionary journey in interfaith dialogue can be achieved when we follow this direction of God’s missionary journey from heaven to earth, Jesus’ journey from mountain to valley”.

As disciples of Jesus Christ and co-workers with religious and non-religious people for God’s glorious, salvific plan for all, our missionary mandate is as servants and messengers preparing the feast of life and inviting all humanity to this fiesta in the community of the valley.

He concluded by reiterating the need to re-introduce this life-centred prophetic dialogue in envisioning future ecumenism and mission, and to work proactively with people of other faiths and of secular society.

Dated 17 October 2022