Conference of European Churches

Following the inauguration of the World Council of Churches in 1948, leaders of the Council worked with member churches as they developed networks within their nations and geographical regions. The number of national councils of churches began to multiply as former colonies gained independence. During the 1950s, the first two "regional ecumenical organizations" (REOs) were formed with encouragement from the WCC: the Christian Conference of Asia, and the Conference of European Churches (CEC). In subsequent years, additional REOs have been formed in Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, the Americas and the Pacific.

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 126 churches (Baptist, Independent, Lutheran, Reformed, Orthodox, Anglican and Old Catholic) and 43 organisations. It was founded in 1959. As a former general secretary of CEC observed, "The notable absence from this membership was the Roman Catholic Church. However, from 1964 CEC developed a close working relationship with the Consilium Conferentiarium Episcoporum Europae (CCEE - Council of European Bishops Conferences) and a joint CEC-CCEE committee was set up."

The CEC comprises a General Secretariat (located in Geneva) and two Commissions

The General Secretariat includes the General Secretary, Finance Officer, Communications Officer, a number of other desks and administrative officers. There is a further office in Strasbourg.

The General Assembly in Lyon, France, July 2009, received proposals for a third Commission,

CCME is an independent organisation, located in the Ecumenical Centre in Brussels alongside CEC Church & Society Commission.

Between Assemblies, governance of CEC is through its 40 strong Central Committee (elected by the general assembly) and its Presidium (acting as an executive committee). CEC has a President, Vice President and Deputy Vice-President. Three or four times a year CEC publishes Monitor. The Europe desk circulates this to a variety of Connexional team members, plus members of the Methodist European Reference Group (MERG), which meets three times per year, and who have oversight of the Europe strategy.

European Ecumenical Assemblies

In 1989 CEC and the CCEE held a European Ecumenical Assembly in Basel, Switzerland. The success at Basel inspired the Second European Ecumenical Assembly of 1997 in Graz, Austria. From its founding in the 1950's the Conference of European Churches has brought the ecumenical movement close to home for Europeans by bridging the gap between the Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and more recently Roman Catholic churches.

The 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly (EEA3) which convened in Sibiu, Romania, 4-9 Sept 2007, was deeply rooted in the world wide ecumenical movement as expressed through the World Council of Churches (WCC).

In the final Message at the Sibiu Assembly participants expressed the need for protection of God's Creation in the following words: "Concerned about God's creation, we pray for a greater sensitivity and respect for its wonderful diversity. We work against its shameless exploitation, from which the 'whole creation awaits its redemption' (Rom 8:22), and we commit ourselves to working for reconciliation between humanity and nature". These words were then followed by Recommendation Ten: "We recommend that the period from the 1st September to the 4th of October be dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change".

Consequently, the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) has produced liturgical material on climate change for Creation Time from September 1 to the second Sunday of October.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland puts together a programme of resources every year to encourage and assist churches to observe a Time for Creation each year. Check this page for the most recent materials.  

The Charta Oecumenica

After Graz, a growing consensus in the churches represented by CEC and the CCEE led to the adoption in 2001 of a Charta Oecumenica, an ecumenical charter or set of guidelines for relationships among European churches. The WCC, the Joint Working Group of the WCC and the Roman Catholic Church as well as the joint Commission on Faith and Order have accompanied the CEC/CCEE process in Europe amid hopes that this may serve as a model for ecumenical networking elsewhere. The Charta Oecumenica has been studied in exploring national "churches together" platforms with a broader base than traditional councils, and in dialogue considering the potential for a global Christian forum.

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