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Greetings from Dr Mary Tanner at the CEC's 14th Assembly

WCC's President for Europe Dr Mary Tanner addressed the 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches on 8 July 2013 in Budapest, Hungary

08 July 2013

Moderator,

Your Eminence Metropolitan Emanuel,

General Secretary,

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

It is a privilege for me, as President for Europe of the World Council of Churches, to be here in Budapest at the Assembly of the Conference of European Churches, my third CEC Assembly. It is good to meet so many friends that I have made in the various parts of Europe as I have represented the World Council these past seven years. Thank you for inviting me to be with you.

Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has already greeted you in the name of the fellowship of churches of the WCC and I add my greetings to his.

At this stage in the Assembly I am happy to be able to congratulate you on having agreed a new Constitution. It has been a long and, at times, a strained process but a necessary one for the future well-being of CEC. Renewing and re-forming structures is never an easy task especially when the process is such a consultative and collaborative one as the one you have been through. But structures are important. Get them wrong and they impede the work and make us turn inward and become fractious. Get them right and then, with generosity and trust, they can be structures of grace through which, even on the most divisive of issues, we can reach the point of saying – “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us” [Acts 15:28]. And good structures can help us turn outwards together freed from self-absorption, in service of one another and a hurting world. What has impressed me as you struggled to renew your Constitution is the number of times you reminded one another of the need for right attitudes. You have so often said that you need to listen to one another more intently, to build trust, to act with generosity and love.

So, CEC goes out from Budapest strengthened for service and witness in a Europe that desperately needs the voice of churches and the voice of churches together. We need to model reconciliation in our own lives in order to carry with conviction God’s message of reconciling love to others.

One hope I have for the years ahead is for a closer partnership between the Conference of European Churches and the World Council of Churches, even if CEC is no longer based in Geneva. We really do need to listen to one another more intentionally and to receive the insights from one another’s work. We have not always been good at this in these last years. I couldn’t help thinking at times during this meeting that CEC could learn from the work of our Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the World Council of Churches: its insights on common prayer, consensus discernment and ecclesiology. And the World Council of Churches needs the insights of the Conference of European Churches.  I remember when Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry was sent to the churches for response and reception how the Conference of European Churches helped the churches in Europe to respond together. Now the WCC needs your help to encourage the churches in Europe to respond together to its newly published report – The Church: Towards a Common Vision.

Dear friends pray for the work of the World Council especially as we move to our Assembly in

Busan.  Pray for us and pray with us – “God of Life: lead us to Justice and peace.”

May God bless the work of the Assembly, and the service and witness of the churches in the Conference of European Churches in the years ahead.

Dr Mary Tanner
President for Europe, World Council of Churches