Choosing Hope

From May 31 to June 5, 2018, the General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) took place in Novi Sad (Serbia). The thoughts and discussions on the theme «You shall be my witness» (Acts 1:8) culminated in an Assembly Message, which was recently sent to all CEC member churches – and which is worth being carefully studied and implemented.
The 2018 CEC General Assembly took place in a time of uncertainty for Europe – and in a city, in which a number of bridges over the Danube had been destroyed in times of conflicts of the recent past. The Assembly Message therefore remembered the many people who are currently experiencing a loss of dignity, exploitation, destitution, and abuse of power. It refers to the «crossroads of Europe» – but also to the vision and hope for the future of this continent. Christians all over Europe are called to serve as bridge builders – following the example of Christ himself and making use of the transformational power of their faith.
«We shall witness to Christ
• by proclaiming Christ’s offer of saving love and grace to the world;
• by coming together to enjoy our ecumenical fellowship and to receive its richness as God’s gift to us;
• by affirming that each person is created in the image and likeness of God and has inherent dignity as a result;
• by being an inclusive community, committed to the flourishing of women and men and welcoming people – and protecting the human dignity of all;
• by being an intergenerational community, valuing the voices of young people who are our present and not only our future;
• by practicing solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Europe and beyond.
We shall serve Christ by seeking and practicing justice
• by urging individuals, institutions, and churches to work for the end of violence, persecution, and discrimination, upholding freedom of religion or belief;
• by seeking reconciliation and the peaceful resolution of conflicts;
• by standing with, empowering and listening to those who find themselves silenced or in the margins of our churches, our communities, and our world;
• by caring for God’s creation and working for ecological and climate justice and a sustainable future for our planet.
We shall serve Christ by offering and accepting hospitality
• by offering a generous welcome to refugees and strangers of all faiths or beliefs;
• by engaging in dialogue, sharing our Christian faith, and learning from each other;
• by raising our voices to overcome division, exclusion, and marginalization and advocating human rights and socio-economic justice for all;
• by recognizing the hospitality given to us by God in the created world and by working towards the integrity of creation.
We call on our member churches and all people to join us in shaping a Europe where we build bridges for the good of all in our continent and world.
Source: Conference of European Churches, Brussels

Photo: Bishop Patrick Streiff during a lecture at the 2018 CEC General Assembly in Novi Sad