The annual meeting of the general secretaries of European National Councils of Churches (ENCC) was held from 24 to 27 September in Vienna.
Participants explored the theme “Tolerance in Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations”. The meeting was facilitated by CEC and was hosted by the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Austria (ÖRKÖ).
The programme opened with an ecumenical worship service at the Reformierte Stadtkirche followed by a reception at the Roman Catholic Church headquarters in Vienna.
The working session began with greetings from ÖRKÖ General Secretary Rev. Esther Handschin. Presentations were made by Dr Michael Bünker, Bishop of Vienna and former Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) president, focusing on the importance of Vienna as a place for ecumenical encounter over the centuries.
In his presentation, Dr Peter Krömer explored the topic of religious freedom. Projects that foster inter-religious understanding and co-operation in local contexts were presented by Dr Elisabeth Lutter of the Vernetzte Ökumene and Dr Andreas Weissenbäck MBA of the Kirchlich-pädagogische Hochschule.
The meeting featured a session on responses to 2017 questionnaire on local impact of the Charta Œcumenica from CEC Member Churches, National Councils of Churches and Organisations in Partnership. The session facilitated by Ms. Katerina Pekridou, CEC Dialogue Secretary, focused on projects related to inter-religious dialogue on the national and local level.
CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen led a session on the outcomes of the 2018 Novi Sad General Assembly of CEC. Meeting participants had a chance to reflect on their own experiences of the Assembly and highlight aspects of CEC’s work particularly relevant for their own context.
The meeting included a walking tour in Vienna with visit to places of historical significance. An important part of the meeting was dedicated to the sharing of experiences from the ENCCs. An overview of the written feedback of the ENCCs on number of questions was provided by Rev. Aled Edwards, General Secretary of Cytûn (Churches Together in Wales) who identified questions of common concern to be explored in the next ENCC meeting.