Press Release No: 17/37
6 October 2017
On 5 and 6 October in Volos, Greece, representatives from CEC Member Churches in Southern Europe met for what is the third in a series of regional consultations leading to the 2018 CEC General Assembly in Novi Sad.
Those gathered contributed to the debate on the future of Europe launched last year in the CEC Open Letter and analysed the themes it presented from theological and other societal perspectives.
The participants came from across the region: from Portugal in the West to Armenia in the East. Different church families were also well represented and included small minority churches to large majority ditto; Armenian Orthodox, Spanish-Evangelical, Greek-Orthodox, Italian/Portuguese-Methodist, Romanian-Orthodox and Serbian-Orthodox.
The conference was opened by CEC Vice-President H. E. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France with CEC providing a space for sharing and reflections on what the role of churches can and should be.
In his intervention CEC President Rt Rev. Christopher Hill KCVO, DD, highlighted the importance of listening to churches from the entire region.
A greeting from H.E. Metropolitan Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetrias (Church of Greece) delivered by Fr. Miltos Amphilochios, spoke openly and honestly about the current challenges Greece faces. And as integral part of the Greek society some of those issues are also vital to the Church of Greece. He also highlighted that the crisis has presented opportunities such as bringing the church and people closer together.
Rev. Meletiadis Meletis, President of the Evangelical Church of Greece, on his part emphasised that particular in the time of crisis churches need one another and highlighted the good local ecumenical cooperation the Volos-region across the church families. He also shared the work of his church in assisting those on the margin of society and in particular migrants and asylum seekers.
One of the keynote speakers, Professors Emeritus at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Petros Vassiliadis presented the view that churches should not fall victim to excessive modernism but neither follow blind traditionalism. In his speech he emphasised the need for remain faithful to tradition but always seek new expressions of and for the faith.
Those gathered also enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the local setting from when Ms. Maria Koutatzi from Caritas Hellas outlined the current social-economic landscape in the country, the implications of the economic crisis and what churches do to mitigate the suffering it has brought.
During small group and plenary work, church representatives discussed their different national contexts, especially relating to minority-majority church relationships and to church-state relationships. Many stressed the importance of learning more about each other and the diversity of our respective societies to foster respect for different parts of the European continent.
Many in the group were concerned with how to promote one inclusive European narrative and strengthen the place of a Christian voice in promoting hope for the future of Europe.
The next consultation will take place in Prague on 30 November – 1 December 2017.