Conference of European Churches
The Conference of European Churches is an ecumenical fellowship of churches in Europe which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The movement which led to the creation of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) dates back to the period of the cold war. The fragmented and divided Europe of the 1940s and 1950s needed to surmount political divisions, to devote itself anew to the peoples torn apart by the second world war. A small group of church leaders in East and West Europe began to consider together the possibility of bringing into conversation churches in European countries separated by different political, economic and social systems. Their aim was to enable the churches of Europe to become instruments of peace and understanding. Exploratory and preparatory meetings took place in 1953 and 1957. In 1959 representatives of more than 40 churches met in Nyborg Strand, Denmark, for the first assembly of CEC. At that time the organization was a loose association of churches, but with the adoption of a constitution at the 1964 assembly, a significant step was taken towards forming a regional conference of churches. This assembly was held on board a ship in the Baltic Sea, in order to overcome visa problems and ensure that all churches enjoyed representation. CEC has consistently tried to promote international understanding, insisting that no "iron curtain" exist among the churches. CEC has also tried to build bridges between minority and majority churches, between the generations, between women and men, and between Christians of different confessions. The assemblies of CEC have been important moments for the European churches in their efforts to witness together:
European Christianity in Today's Secularized World
The Service of the Church in a Changing World
The Church in Europe and the Crisis of Modern Man
Living Together as Continents and Generations
To Serve and Reconcile - the Task of the European Churches Today
Service of God, Service of Men
Act on the Message - Unity in Christ and Peace in the World
Chania, Crete (Greece)
Alive to the World in the Power of the Holy Spirit
Glory to God and Peace on Earth
Prague (Czech Republic)
God Unites - in Christ a New Creation
Reconciliation, Gift of God and Source of New Life
Jesus Christ Heals and Reconciles: Our Witness in Europe
Called to One Hope in Christ
The themes of these assemblies present a mirror reflection of the will of the churches in Europe to be agents of service and reconciliation, and to respond to the challenges of an increasingly secularized society. Following the political changes in 1989, the European Ecumenical Commission on Church and Society, a body of the churches in Western Europe, and CEC were integrated in 1999 to form the CEC Church and Society Commission. Cooperation between CEC and the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (Catholic Church) has resulted in the European Ecumenical Assemblies: "Peace with Justice" in Basel in 1989; "Reconciliation, Gift of God and Source of New Life" in Graz in 1997; and "The Light of Christ Shines Upon All - Hope for Renewal and Unity in Europe" in Sibiu, Romania, in 2007.
Besides the Commission on Church and Society, which focuses on the European integration process and on peace and human rights, CEC has a Commission on Churches in Dialogue, working on unity and mission. The Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), which is based in Brussels, works on migration and integration, refugees and asylum, and against racism and discrimination in Europe. CCME and CEC are formally cooperating in these areas since 1999 and are in the process of the integration of CCME and CEC. Another important area of work is relations with Islam in Europe, carried on jointly with the Council of European Bishops' Conferences. CEC has some 120 member churches in 38 countries. It has also 43 associated organizations, the majority of which are national councils of churches. CEC has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.
Periodical: Monitor (CEC News, in English, French, and German)