Plans are being made for the next Charis International Leadership Encounter (CILE 2015), which will be held November 2-6 in Bangkok, Thailand.
During CILE 2015, key leaders from Grace Brethren churches in their respective countries will meet to discuss matters of common interest and to make plans for cooperation and mutual support. Among the items they will consider is the Charis Commitment to Common Identity. This will be a culmination of a three-year effort to create a truly global expression of common values and beliefs of the Grace Brethren movement.
Charis is the name adopted by the international fraternity of Grace Brethren churches and leaders. Begun in 1994, Charis serves as a platform for pursuing matters of common purpose and interest for those who share the values of the Grace Brethren movement. Charis is a transliteration of the Greek word for grace.
Delegates to the international meeting will be individuals who are qualified to engage in theological and practical dialog with their peers from around the world. The Charis Steering Committee has established the following criteria:
- Good testimony – A leader with a solid testimony with the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches of his country, and is clearly identified with its doctrines and practices.
- Understands Local Ministry – A leader with a good grasp of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and needs of the church in his or her country.
- Understands Regional Ministries – A leader who has participated in Regional Charis Encounters or who has traveled enough in his or her region so as to understand the needs of the Grace Brethren of that region.
- Committed to Preparation – A leader who is committed to preparing himself or herself for the Charis International Encounter by fulfilling assignments.
- Committed to Communication – A leader who is committed to effectively communicating the results of the Charis International Encounter to the churches and leaders he or she is representing.
- Committed to the ongoing work of Charis – A leader who is willing and able to advance the goals and projects that arise from this encounter.
- Understands a Common Language: A leader who is able to communicate in one of the principal languages of Charis – English, Spanish, or French.
Delegates should be selected and endorsed officially by the national organizations representing the Grace Brethren churches of each country. Countries with one to 10 churches are eligible to send one delegate; those with 11 – 99 churches are eligible to send two delegates; and countries with 100 or more churches are eligible to send three delegates.
Current members of the Charis Steering Committee will also participate, but will not be considered as part of the number of delegates from their respective countries. They include: from Africa – Francois Ngoumape (CAR) and Betelembeye Yerima (Chad); from Asia – Shu Aoki (Japan) and Wayne Hannah (Encompass); from Europe – Florent Varak (France) and Rainer Ehmann (Germany); Latin America – Jorge Núñez (Argentina) and Eduardo Pizzi (Argentina); North America – Keith Shearer (USA); and Committee Coordinator – David Guiles (Encompass).
The Charis Steering Committee is praying that much of the costs of the conference will be covered by the gifts of churches and individuals from around the world. Following the words of the Apostle Paul: “…At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality” (2 Corinthians 8:14 NIV).
At the same time, it is expected that the churches of each country make a sincere effort to raise funds so as to assist with expenses.
Charis began early in the 1990’s when a number of Grace Brethren leaders recognized the time had come to develop ways to encourage strong fraternal ties between Grace Brethren congregations and their leaders around the world.
During that same decade, three Charis International Leadership Encounters (CILE) took place in France (1994), Canada (1996), and Argentina (1999). These meetings broadened an understanding of the international Grace Brethren movement and produced a number of regional partnerships.
In 2000, the past and future coordinators of Charis (Varak, Núñez, and Ehmann) met with the newly-appointed executive director of Encompass World Partners (Guiles) to discuss the future of these international meetings. It was determined to encourage each region to host its own Regional Charis Leadership Encounter as a way to involve more local leaders in the movement. Multiple regional encounters took place on each continent.
In 2008, a Charis International Leadership Encounter (CILE) was held in Bad Hamburg, Germany. This date and location permitted delegates to participate in the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Brethren movement (1708, Schwarzenau, Germany). In preparation for the CILE 2008 meetings, a global ministry audit was conducted to research and catalog locations where the Grace Brethren were planting churches, current leadership training efforts, and types and locations of holistic ministries (later changed to integrated ministries).
The delegates of CILE 2008 reached two significant decisions: the adoption of The Charis Commitment to Common Mission, which states a mutual commitment to cooperate in the areas of church planting, leadership development, and integrated ministries, and, the official creation of the Charis Steering Committee.
In 2014, additional members were added to the Charis Steering Committee to assist with regional responsibilities related to The Identity Initiative and to help prepare for CILE 2015.
During CILE 2015, a representative of GraceConnect will be on the ground to document the event and to report about the conference. These reports will be found at graceconnect.us during early November 2015.