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World's Most Diverse Gathering of Christians Kicks Off Unity Talks

An international gathering of the broadest range of Christian traditions ever met for a four-day conference beginning Tuesday.

High level church leaders met near Nairobi, Kenya, in an unprecedented ecumenical showcase to discuss what Christians are called to do – and if possible together – in the world. The Global Christian Forum in Limuru convenes about 250 high level representatives of all the main Christian traditions and their global organizations. Evangelicals and Pentecostal make up about half of the participants.

Under the theme of "Our Journey with Jesus Christ, the Reconciler," participants will discuss how best to promote dialogue and cooperation on issues of Christian unity and common witness to the world. Attendees will also debate proposals for the future of the forum.

The stated purpose of the forum is to create a new, open space in which a broad range of Christian churches and interchurch organizations can gather in a multilateral setting to foster mutual respect and explore and address together common challenges. It aims to include all streams of Christianity, including those which have not been in conversation with one another.

The idea for the forum was first proposed in the mid-1990s by then World Council of Churches general secretary the Rev. Konrad Raiser with the recognition that the ecumenical movement was broader than the WCC, which represents 560 million Christians in 110 countries.

Although WCC helped initiate the process, the ecumenical body sees itself as a participating organization alongside others.

The faith groups represented at the meeting in Limuru are: African Instituted, Anglican, Baptist, Evangelical, (Roman) Catholic, Disciples (Churches of Christ), Friends, Holiness, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Moravian, Old Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Pentecostal, Reformed, Salvation Army, Seventh-Day Adventist, United and Uniting Churches.

In addition to these denominations or "families," a number of Christian organizations are also represented: regional ecumenical organizations, youth and student international movements, YMCA and YWCA, United Bible Societies, World Vision International, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, the World Council of Churches and a number of forum-type organizations.

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