The journey of Christian Churches Together in the USA began in September 2001 when church leaders representing the wider spectrum of the Christian community articulated a vision for a place of fellowship that would draw them together. When publicly shared the next year, they said this:
“We lament that we are divided and that our divisions too often result in distrust, misunderstandings, fear and even hostility between us. We long for the broken body of Christ made whole, where unity can be celebrated in the midst of our diversity.... We long for a more common witness, vision and mission.”
Early on, CCT identified five major Christian families that needed to be represented—in addition to Catholic, Orthodox, historic Protestant, and evangelical/pentecostal, “racial and ethnic churches” were also included in light of the history and reality of these issues in the United States. Over these past years a process of mutual engagement, agreement on purposes, and organizational planning has moved forward.
Today 32 denominations and Christian organizations have agreed to become founding participants of CCT. They represent well the first four “families.” At its meeting in June 2005, CCT’s participants decided to delay the official launch in order to enable further dialogue with the historic black churches, whose participation in CCT is vitally desired. Recently, the first historic black church decided to join, and others are in the process of discernment and dialogue.
CCT’s next gathering will be in March 2006, in Atlanta. A central focus will be how our respective churches understand and confront the challenge of poverty—a focus proposed by the pentecostal/evangelical participants in CCT and embraced by all.
Clear parallels can be drawn between the Global Christian Forum and Christian Churches Together. Driving each of these initiatives is a simple but clear vision that participants discover to be biblically compelling, spiritually empowered, and therefore virtually irresistible.
Wesley Granberg-Michaelson is general secretary of the Reformed Church in America. His latest book is Leadership from Inside Out: Spirituality and Organizational Change.