Press Release: Digital Churches? Challenges in proclaiming the Gospel today

Press Release No: 14/37
20 November 2014
Hannover

Digital Churches? Challenges in proclaiming the Gospel today

The CEC-CCEE Joint Committee annual meeting took place from 17 to 19 November in Hannover at the invitation of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD).

Participants gathered to discuss the theme Communication of the Gospel in Today’s Europe. Different speeches were given on three main sub themes: the communication in Today’s Europe; Christian communication and “marketing” of Christian faith today and Christian Communication and building communion.

Proceedings included reports on CEC and CCEE activities. In Hannover, CCEE delegates were introduced to the new CEC Joint Committee members, elected after the last CEC Plenary Assembly in 2013. The days were marked by moments of prayer according to the various traditions of the Christian denominations present at the meeting.

At the end of their meeting, participants adopted the following message.

In 2014, Europe and the churches within it are in a unique position to reflect on a history that made up of stories of division and reconciliation, turmoil and healing. Together we turn to the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I and 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the long shadow of these divisive times, we are reminded of the human ability to destroy, to kill, and to turn away from that which is gracious and good.

Today, as we gather in Hannover, Christians from across the confessional and cultural traditions of Europe commit themselves anew to living stories of hope and reconciliation. We turn to these moments in our shared past so that we may better bring about God’s reign of justice and mercy today. In this already-but-not-yet time, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) bear witness to the need for God’s reconciling spirit in a divided world. In a world rife with many conflicts, we lift up the divisions of humanity to God through the cross of Christ. Of particular concern at this time must be Ukraine and the Middle East.

  • In the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which remains prominent in the news, we recommit ourselves to the Psalmist’s call to “seek peace and pursue it”. We pray for victims of violence, and for those who grieve loss of life and security, that they may know God’s comfort and an end to conflict. We pray for those who remain silent or are disempowered to speak, that they may be stirred toward solidarity.
  • In the Middle East, the cradle of our Christian faith, the world is witnessing unprecedented expressions of violence and extremism. Indiscriminate murders, persecution of Christians as well as other minorities, suppression of aid, and untold chaos characterise life across much of Syria and Iraq. Human rights are inviolable and violence intolerable. Peace cannot be realised without an end to the global arms trade. We condemn the misappropriation of religion to justify the spilling of human blood in God’s good Creation, especially as manifested by the so-called Islamic State. We pray for those who take up arms against their brothers and sisters, that they may turn their swords into ploughshares.In this Joint Committee, we seek to be a beacon for the churches in Europe and beyond. We strive for reconcilliation and work for unity in the midst of division in the Church. In these shared words of peace, and a joint call for justice, we are reminded that the Gospel of Christ is a Gospel of reconcilliation for all to proclaim.

As we reflect together in our meetings on the impact of communicating the Christian faith today, we note five themes:

1)  Being in the digital world is not an option, but a reality and the context of the mission of the Church. The Church as sign and presence of the unity of humankind must be where the people are and there is a real hunger in digital spaces and across social media platforms for authentic expressions of the Gospel message.

2)  Jesus Christ, Word of God, is the exemplar in all our communication, even as we enter unfamiliar and uncharted terrain. He is our saviour and guide, and reminds us that human beings are more than the sum of our digital footprints.

3)  We have seen the richness of the churches’ experience and the depth of our discernment. We strive to cultivate dialogue and community in all our efforts to understand how to communicate and live better the Christian faith.

4)  Evolving technologies present challenges for the Church and its witness in the world. Many find themselves preoccupied with inappropriate and trivial use of the internet and digital technologies. There are serious anthropological, spiritual, theological, and ethical challenges that must be addressed by the Church for the flourishing of humankind.

5) Education for life-giving and liberating use of these technologies is a priority for the Church. This is an enormous opportunity to create and nourish community and be witnesses to life in Christ.

Even as we face new ways of praying, thinking, and acting out our Christian faith, online and elsewhere, we recall the ancient words and sacred traditions that guide our being and our doing, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13).

On Tuesday evening, participants had the opportunity to meet with the Aulandsbischöfin, Pastor Petra Bosse-Huber, and the President of the Church Administration of the Hannover’s Landeskirche, Dr Stephanie Springer.

The 2015 meeting will take place in Rome, Italy.

For further information, please contact:

Erin Green
CEC Communication Coordinator
phone: +32 2 234 68 42
e-mail: eeg@cec-kek.be

Thierry Bonaventura
CCEE Media Officer
phone +41 71 227 6044, mobile +41 79 12 80 189
e-mail bonaventura@ccee.eu

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The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 national council of churches and organisations in partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.

The Council of the  Bishops’ Conferences  of  Europe (CCEE) encompasses the current 33 European Bishops’ Conferences, represented by their Presidents, the Archbishops of Luxembourg, of the Principality of Monaco, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus and the Bishop of Chişinău (Moldova Rep.), the Eparchial Bishop of Mukachevo and the Apostolic Administrator of Estonia. The current President is Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Primate of Hungary; the Vice-Presidents are Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, and Mgr Angelo Massafra, Archbishop of Shkrodë-Pult (Albania). The General Secretary is Mgr Duarte da Cunha. The Secretariat is based at St Gallen (Switzerland).www.ccee.eu

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