European churches focus on reconciliation and unity ahead of WCC Assembly

Press Release No: 05/22
01 March 2022
Brussels

Moved by Christ’s love, European churches affirm their contribution toward reconciliation and unity. Speaking in the context of secular and plural European societies, over 150 participants of the European Regional Pre-Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) gathered online, addressing crucial topics, including the war in Ukraine, and preparing for the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which will be held later this year in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Organised together with the Polish Ecumenical Council, CEC’s European Regional Pre-Assembly was held from 25 to 26 February, under the theme “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity”.

“War is probably as far from Christ’s love as one gets,” stressed Dr Pavlo Smytsnyuk, director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University, when speaking at the event. “However, the war shows in a very radical way the context in which unity and reconciliation occur.”

“I hope churches in Europe, spiritually united with Ukrainian Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic sisters and brothers may feel the compassion and active solidarity as a body, one member of which is suffering—and not let Ukraine suffer alone. This can involve reaching out to churches, governments and businesses, asking them to put pressure on Russia to stop the war, and support Ukraine,” added Smytsnyuk.

“The pre-assembly is dedicated to demonstrating to the world how churches and Christian communities throughout Europe manage to bring about hope and reconciliation,” said CEC General Secretary Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen. He called the pre-assembly a valuable opportunity for CEC members to meet together as distinctly European churches, addressing European challenges, seeking European solutions and moving toward a diverse global ecumenical event: the WCC assembly.

“I honour your courage in facing the situation and challenges of our times together and stepping forth with ideas, commitments and witness to meet the day, advancing the cause of reconciliation and unity, and informing the full fellowship of churches in Europe and beyond,” said WCC Acting General Secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca in his message to the pre-assembly. “Christian churches united in fellowship can also contribute a distinctive, even decisive, voice to Europe’s future,” he added.

The pre-assembly invoked in-depth reflections on how churches can continue to be reconciling communities in increasingly secular and plural European societies.

The participants discussed Christ’s call to discipleship, transforming love, inclusive community, and perpetual hope. The topic of reconciliation was approached in the context of Brexit and churches’ work in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Christian Muslim relations in Cyprus, inter-communion work of the Lutheran Church in Poland in particular, and Sámi people and the Church of Norway.

The participants prepared for their active engagement at the WCC assembly in Karlsruhe.

A detailed report from the European Pre-Assembly will be available in due time.

For more information or an interview, please contact:

Naveen Qayyum
Communication Officer
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Brussels
Tel. +32 486 75 82 36
E-mail: naveen@cec-kek.be
Website: www.ceceurope.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ceceurope
Twitter: @ceceurope
YouTube: Conference of European Churches
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