FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 10 September 2014
Global Church groups agree to confront
Christian discrimination, persecution and martyrdom together
Discrimination, persecution and violence against Christians and churches around the world is set for further exposure after a group representing high profile Christian churches and organisations agreed to pursue together an international response on the issue.
A meeting convened by the Global Christian Forum in Strasbourg, France, including representatives from the Vatican, the World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Alliance and the Pentecostal World Fellowship, agreed on 9 September to press ahead with a global gathering on the issue of ‘Christian discrimination, persecution and martyrdom’ for late 2015.
Preceding the consultation a number of significant actions will be undertaken:
collation of the most recent and thorough data on religious persecution sourced from churches and organisations on a global level;
production of a glossary with an examination of the use of language of discrimination, persecution and martyrdom, since many words and concepts are ill-defined and used in various ways;
‘team visits’ to four countries to explore the different nature of religious persecution.
The process will also examine the possibility that discrimination is taking place in secularised first world nations where legal compliance and secular practice is leading to discrimination against people of Christian faith.
Larry Miller, Secretary of the Global Christian Forum, said “The GCF exists to enable churches of all traditions to face common challenges together. It is highly fitting that the first of these initiatives is to support Christians around the world as they face discrimination, persecution and martyrdom in their communities.”
Rev Dr. Hielke Wolters, Associate General Secretary of the World Council of Churches said, “It is a strong sign of hope that churches and ecumenical organisations with such a diverse background are ready to work together to support Christians that go through difficult times. Religious freedom is important for all of us, whether Christian, Muslim or adherent of any other religion.
“This joint initiative is very much in line with the WCC’s efforts to accompany Christians and churches in countries like Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Nigeria. We are grateful that we can strengthen this important work in cooperation with churches and organisations from the Catholic, Pentecostal and Evangelical traditions.”
Pastor Ingolf Ellssel, a representative of the Pentecostal World Fellowship Executive, said he was “excited about this initiative of the Global Christian Forum bringing world Christianity together and lifting up the voices of those suffering discrimination, persecution and martyrdom. I hope is the beginning of a new process of unity in the Body of Christ.”
Local church leaders from every continent will also be asked to describe their experience of persecution and discrimination in their regions.
It was agreed that half of the delegates to the consultation would be from churches that had experienced discrimination, persecution or violence due to their faith.
The Global Christian Forum initiative to explore the area of religious discrimination across Christian traditions arose out of its own global gathering in Manado, Indonesia in 2011, to enable all the churches to confront common challenges together.