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African Pentecostal leader proposes ‘strategic level’ talks with WCC

A prominent African Pentecostal Christian has proposed "strategic level" talks with the World Council of Churches (WCC) that he said could lead to far greater participation by Pentecostal churches in the world’s largest grouping of churches.

"If the WCC has been able to embrace its current diversity then it should be able to also embrace the Pentecostal churches to create a truly ‘world’ council of churches," said Michael Ntumy, chairperson of The Church of Pentecost in Ghana. "The Pentecostal sons and daughters are waiting for the father churches to offer them this embrace," he told a media conference on 20 February during the ninth assembly of the WCC in Porto Alegre.

Ntumy, a leader of the Pentecostal World Council, offered to host in Ghana the first of what he said should be a series of meetings on different continents.

The Pentecostal movement is one of the fastest growing groups in global Christianity and places special emphasis on what it says are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But Pentecostals have not been strongly represented in the WCC whose more than 340 member churches represent mostly Protestant, Anglican, and Christian Orthodox traditions.

Still, Evangelicals and Pentecostals are increasingly finding common cause with the WCC, said the Rev. Geoff Tunnicliffe, a Canadian who is head of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), a grouping that he said encompasses some 400 million people.

"Regarding the scandal of global poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic we fully share the WCC’s concerns," he said. The WEA has launched a global programme called the Micah Challenge with the goal of working with governments and other organisations worldwide to halve global poverty by the year 2015.

Argentinian Pentecostal pastor and scholar Norberto Saracco said both Pentecostal and WCC member churches had "revised their positions" in the last 30 years, making cooperation easier. He told WCC delegates, however, that new models of finding church unity were needed.

"Agreements between hierarchies, papers and structures have reached their limit," he said. "Is not this the time for a new Pentecost? Only a Spirit-filled church will see racial, sexual, economic and ecclesiastical barriers come down," said Saracco.

(c) Ecumenical News International