Ecumenical officers and secretaries for theology from across Europe gathered in Kaunisniemi, Finland, reflecting on crucial themes in the area of ecclesiology and mission. The Old Catholic Bishops’ Conference was represented by Bishop Dirk Jan Schoon from the Netherlands.
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.
CEC, 1 October 2019
Photo: CEC/Charlie Belot: Participants in the CEC meeting in Finland.