Each year the secretaries and secretaries-general of the main church families and alliances (Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Anglican, Orthodox, etc.) and global ecumenical organisations (including the World Council of Churches in Geneva, the Roman Catholic Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Global Christian Forum) hold a one-week conference to share information and views. As the secretary of the International Old Catholic Bishops’ Conference, I have represented the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht at the CWC meeting since 2009. Each meeting takes place in the “headquarters” of one of the members, such as Canterbury, Rome and Istanbul. To mark the 125th anniversary of the Union of Utrecht, this year I had the honour on behalf of the Union of Utrecht and the Archbishop of Utrecht of inviting the conference participants to Amersfoort in the Netherlands, where our meeting took place from 2 to 6 November.
CWC/CS stands for “Christian World Communions. Conference of Secretaries”. Set up about 20 years ago, the conference has not assumed an institutional form and does not pass resolutions or issue press releases. Instead, its primary aim is to foster friendly relations and enable the participants to share their experiences and opinions. Each meeting has a topical theme that affects all of the members. This year’s theme was the most recent papers of the Faith and Order Commission (The Church: Towards a Common Vision) and reports on the member churches and their bilateral dialogues with other churches. The meeting took place at the Old Catholic church centre in Amersfoort, where we also worshipped in the chapel. On the Tuesday evening the group was invited to vespers in the Old Catholic Cathedral in Utrecht with Archbishop Dr. Joris Vercammen, followed by a supper hosted by the cathedral chapter. The host church also has the opportunity to introduce itself in more detail to the members of the other denominations. This year’s guest speaker was Dr. Mattjis Ploeger. I would like to thank the volunteers from our sister church in the Netherlands for their support, and our guests for their sincere and positive feedback.
Bishop Dr. Harald Rein, Secretary of the International Bishops’ Conference