Press Release No. 11/25e

01.09.11 13:36

Mission of the Churches in a simultaneously pre-secular, secular and post secular Europe: recommendations of a consultation

“We recommend that CEC, in considering the new ecumenical realities and vibrant ecclesial changes that are shaping an expanding ecumenical space, should develop an appropriate platform for the widest possible Christian and ecumenical engagement in connection with questions of mission in Europe”.

The Churches in Dialogue (CiD) Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) concluded its consultation on challenges and opportunities for the mission of European churches on Wednesday, 31 August, at Rady College in Budapest, Hungary.

The consultation was graciously hosted in the office of Dr. Istvan Szabó, Bishop of the Danubian Reformed Church District in Hungary, and a member of the CiD Commission.  Dr. Szabó welcomed the participants among whom were members of the CEC Central Committee, representatives from CEC mission partners and a group of mission specialists.

H.E. Cardinal Péter Erdő, President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, greeted the participants and spoke of the “New Evangelism” called for by Pope Benedict XVI. His Eminence emphasised the continued need for the world to encounter Christ. He indicated that within the work of mission today there is the potential for the discovery of a deeper unity between and among the Christian traditions.

Mission was highlighted in three ecumenical texts, the Charta Oecumenica, the Edinburgh 2010 Mission, Unity and Ecclesiology Study Theme and Christian Witness in a multi-religious World. Mission specialists then spoke on the following topics:

The series of papers presented began with Viorel Ionita explaining CEC’s engagement with questions and practices of mission. Following his presentation, a consensus was reached for the need for mission activity to be located more closely to the organisational centre of CEC and that the CiD remain the appropriate place for theological reflection and study of mission in Europe.

Darrell Jackson indicated that mission challenges regarding secularism must take into account that Europe today is simultaneously pre-secular, secular and post-secular and suggested that secularisation need not be the inevitable end of history.

John Baxter-Brown spoke on the questions of mission, discipleship and power in reference to Europe’s established churches.

Christian Popescu highlighted the issue of migration and the CEC member churches’ relationships with new migrant churches. He spoke of the need to understand the reasons for the established churches’ tendencies to treat migration as a diaconal rather than a missiological issue.

Katerina Dekanovska discussed relationships with other religious communities. She spoke of the need for more awareness of European centres which engage in mission work among Muslims in order to achieve a better understanding of such ministries.

Dietrich Werner indicated that Europe is “the most difficult mission field today”.  He discussed mission and theological education and noted the marginalisation of theology and missiology within European universities.

Recommendations for the role of CEC in supporting mission in Europe were agreed upon and included the following two recommendations: (please see the full Report for the complete list of recommendations)

“...We recommend that CEC develop a means of exploring how Churches in Europe can develop a shared terminology and understanding of common mission.

...that the CiD should take concrete steps towards establishing closer relationships with the existing European missiological networks in order to strengthen joint missiological education and formation with Europe...”.

All of the recommendations will be brought forward to the CEC Central Committee meeting to be held this month in Prague. 

Viorel Ionita, Interim General Secretary of CEC, noted that: "This consultation brought together for the first time representatives of the CEC Central Committee, CEC mission partners as well as a group of specialists in mission in Europe. With this gathering, the consultation could clearly identify the role of CEC in relation to the mission of the churches in Europe today and, at the same time, opened new perspectives for a better cooperation between CEC and its mission partners".

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The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 120 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 associated organisations. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.

For more information:
CEC General Secretariat
Phone +41 22 791 62 28
Fax +41 22 791 62 27
e-mail: GenSecretariat@remove-mecec-kek.org