Thirty delegates represented 19 countries with established Grace Brethren churches.
Seeking a way to work together as a united movement for the cause of Christ, representatives of Grace Brethren ministries from around the world met for the Charis International Leadership Encounter (CILE) in early November in Bangkok, Thailand.
Thirty delegates represented 19 countries with established Grace Brethren churches. Another 16 steering committee members, staff, and advisors rounded out the attendance at 46. The meetings were held at the Vertical Suite Hotel, where conference participants were also housed.
The week was highlighted by the unanimous approval on Wednesday of the Charis Commitment of Common Identity (CCCI) as the fresh expression of the core beliefs and values of the global Grace Brethren movement. (Read the document at charisalliance.org/english/documents.html.)
It was the culmination of several days of discussion in which the delegates met according to language group – English, French, or Spanish – to discuss the proposed final document. Much of the earlier work had taken place in various regions around the world where there are Grace Brethren churches.
On Friday, before the group concluded their sessions with the celebration of three-fold communion, each signed the approved Commitment of Common Identity. They also discussed how to move forward with the creation of the Charis Alliance, an association that seeks to promote fellowship and cooperation on the regional and international level among the churches that endorse the Charis Commitment to Common Identity.
The week also included reports on progress in the three areas of the Commitment to Common Mission — church planting, leadership development, and integrated ministries. That document had been approved at the 2008 meeting of the Charis Alliance in Bad Homberg, Germany, and the presenters referenced research done in 2008 with surveys taken in 2015. (The Commitment to Common Mission was ratified by the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches and it’s national organizations in 2009.)
Florent Varak, reporting on leadership development, said that he saw a wide variety of leadership training. “I think it’s a very positive thing for our movement,” he said. “We want our leaders of our movement to be well trained.”
Paul Klawitter, reporting on church planting, looked at efforts on the five continents where Grace Brethren ministries occur. He noted perseverance in the midst of difficulties such as war, famine, economic instability, and religious opposition in Africa and Asia. In Europe and Latin America, he observed collaborative efforts among Grace Brethren movements and in partnership with other evangelical denominations. In North America, he cited the lack of a “cookie- cutter approach” with much good experimentation, as church planters reach out in a post-modern world.
“A lot of people are doing this in a very natural way and we’re just now starting to identify some of the different areas that they are working,” said Jason Weimer following his talk on integrated (or holistic) ministries. “Christians almost intuitively figure this out because we’re looking at the world.
We know that God called us out of the world but he’s also commanded us to go back into the world.”
See interviews with Varak, Klawitter, and Weimer, along with other video from the week, at vimeo.com/channels/charisalliance
For more details on the CCCI and Charis alliance, see charisalliance.org or graceconnect.us.