Meeting Explores Ecclesiology and Mission

2019. október 02., szerda

Ecumenical officers and secretaries for theology from across Europe gathered in Kaunisniemi, Finland last week, reflecting on crucial themes in the area of ecclesiology and mission.

The meeting titled “First Meeting of Ecumenical Officers and Secretaries for Theology” was held from 24 to 26 September by the Conference of European Churches (CEC).

The meeting brought together thirty participants with responsibility for ecumenical theological dialogue in CEC Member Churches, the Lutheran World Federation and the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe. The event was hosted by the Orthodox Church of Finland and was generously supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

Church leaders that welcomed the participants included CEC President Rev. Christian Krieger, Most Rev. Archbishop Leo of Helsinki and all Finland, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Finland, Rt Rev. Dr Matti Repo, Bishop of Tampere, and Chair of the Committee for Ecumenical Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Rev. Dr Mari-Anna Auvinen, General Secretary of the Finnish Ecumenical Council.

The meeting focused on mutual exchange and learning, as the participants listened to priorities and key questions in the areas of ecclesiology and mission within CEC Member Churches.

In accordance with CEC’s new Strategy Plan, participants discussed ecumenical cooperation and fellowship between churches with historical longevity in Europe and the so-called “migrant” and “minority ethnic” churches. Participants heard from representatives of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, the Center for Migrant Churches of the Reformed Church of Zurich, and the Desk Being Church Together with Migrants of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia.

The participants explored questions of contextualisation and identity of migrant churches, and discussed Christian communities and migration as an ecclesiological opportunity. They reflected on the changing European religious landscape within the current developments in the international multilateral dialogue of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.

The meeting provided inspiration and guidance for CEC’s new programme on ecclesiology and mission. A number of themes in the meeting’s presentations were identified as important for CEC’s work in the coming years. These themes included: the mission of the Church in a secular or post-Christian society, ways in which ecclesial identity is closely associated with nationality and ethnicity and how it affects ecumenical relationships, and the need for ecumenical theological education and formation.

The meeting also heard about the preparations of the 11th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches to be held in Karlsruhe in 2021, and reflected on ways in which churches in Europe can contribute actively.

Rev Balázs Ódor, RCH ecumenical officer, has also attended the meeting representing the Reformed Church in Hungary:

 

"Ecumenical dialogue and cooperation, at its best, contributes to the faithfulness of the involved denominations and therefore the whole ecumenical community to the Gospel of Christ, in providing safe spaces for churches for mutual critical and self-critical discernment of their current call and practice, and also in facing the past together – with all its unfaithfulness and failures.

It is exactly the plenitude of ‘Christian references’ of mostly populistic political narratives that directly challenges Christian communities and Churches in Europe to give an account and offer a narrative together, in a relevant, fresh, coherent and consequent way, of the hope which is in us. When striving to fulfill this call, we shouldn’t forget that the dividing lines within the Christian community on the continent are running not (only) along denominational borders, but across denominations. Differences and divisions in public theology in today’s Europe, are seemingly rooted more in cultural, social, contextual or political/ideological preferences and options, than in theological controversies.

Engagement and dialogue is urgent which aims to answer to the challenge of the “political Christianity” in today’s Europe, recognizing, respecting, but mutually challenging – with a respectful attitude, under the rule of faith and love – our contextual realities. If we as Christians, with all our differences, but under the uniting and transforming power of Christ, are not able to offer a “Christian voice” in Europe, others will do the job for us…"

Originally published on CEC website.

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