Young board members seek empowerment in European churches and ecumenical bodies

Feature Article No: 18/01
22 November 2018

Young members of the CEC Governing Board want to make sure young adults are instrumental in the life and work of CEC and its Member Churches.

The youth members of the CEC Governing Board are Andreas Henriksen Aarflot from the Church of Norway, Lea Kathrin Schlenker from the Evangelical Church in Germany and Emma Johnson from the Methodist Church in Britain.

Young members of the electoral reserve for the CEC Governing Board include Tuomo Mäkelä from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Maria Mountraki from the Orthodox Church of Finland and Deacon Iakovos Andriopoulos from Church of Greece.

The new board meets from 22 to 24 November in Brussels, for its first official gathering following the 2018 Novi Sad General Assembly. The 20-member Governing Board meets twice annually to oversee the implementation of the decisions of the Assembly.

“As a CEC Governing Board member, I have appreciated good intergenerational fellowship during the last five years of my association with the board,” said 29-year-old Andreas Aarflot.

“In principle all CEC bodies must include a clearly defined youth representation, ensuring that youth are an integrated part of the programmatic work of the CEC,” he added.

“We must try to work specifically on youth programmes, cooperating with and supporting existing ecumenical youth organisations such as Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe, to further enhance ecumenical activities for and with youth in Europe,” said Aarflot.

“I would encourage churches to recognise youth not only as future of the church, but also the present. In my church, for instance, we have a requirement to include at least twenty percent candidates to the most important elected church bodies,” he said.

Youth participation at CEC

26-year-old Lea Schlenker considers the 2018 Novi Sad General Assembly of CEC an event where young participants were listened to and their opinions were respected.

“CEC should have more programmes like the Youth Pre-Assembly, and enhance youth participation not only for stewards, but youth advisors and youth delegates as well. I hope for CEC to be a good example regarding youth participation,” she said.

Schlenker says to ensure youth participation, churches must reach out to youth, following a three-fold strategy. “Firstly, they should include youth in all activities. Secondly, they should enable young persons to participate, as participation is learnt. And thirdly, churches should include young people in decision-making and give them real responsibility.”


Equal opportunity and trust

27-year-old Emma Johnson sees no difference between young and older Governing Board Members. “As a board we have strategic oversight of the work that CEC does, which means that we need to have a clear vision and ethos. We also hold CEC to account and oversee the financial performance,” she said. This, according to Johnson, is a great responsibility. “Balancing this task with a day job and getting started in one’s career, especially when it is outside the church, can be a challenge,” she added.

She went on to say that for CEC to enhance youth participation, more asynchronous methods of engagement are needed. “Online consultations, fora and webinars would be a great engagement tool so people from all walks of life could engage more easily.”

“Face to face meetings and conferences, weekends and evenings should be maximised where possible. Resources to be able to talk about issues – for example human rights, migrants, bioethics, ecclesiology- with groups would be a really good way to engage,” she added.

For more information or an interview, please contact:

Dr Erin Green
Communication Coordinator
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Brussels
Tel. +32 2 234 68 42
Fax +32 2 231 14 13
Twitter: @ceceurope



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