The Conference of European Churches convened its second regional consultation leading to its 15th General Assembly, which will be held in Novi Sad (Serbia), June 2018. Organised together with the Action of Churches Together in Scotland and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, the consultation brought together ecumenical officers, policy experts, and church leaders to discuss the future of Europe. The current political landscape in the United Kingdom and Ireland especially informed the discussions.
The consultation is part of a broader process launched by CEC with its open letter "What Future for Europe?" With this letter, we invited churches into dialogue about the many difficult and interrelated challenges facing Europe today, and how to best raise highlight the positive role of churches in European society.
In his opening remarks, CEC President Rt Rev Christopher Hill KCVO, DD emphasised the need to reimagine Europe through a prayerful process of listening and dialogue. "The Churches have to recapture the spirit which inspired the European project: Reconciliation, forgiveness, solidarity, human dignity, justice and peace."
Though the perspectives of the representatives from the United Kingdom and Ireland were diverse, they shared a common concern for the social aspects of the challenges facing Europe, including poverty, reception of migrants and refugees, and youth inclusion. Heather Roy, general secretary of Eurodiaconia underscored these concerns, "Engagement in Europe should not be about money, rather it should be about sharing our common purpose, that horizon of God's Kingdom, of learning from each other, and yes, combining together in joint advocacy."
These concerns were echoed by Jim Wallace, former Deputy First Minister of Scotland, who stressed that overcoming fears and a strong commitment to social justice are integral to the future of Europe.
The next regional consultation for southern Europe and central-eastern Europe will follow in the second half of 2017.