From May 31 to June 5 was held in Novi Sad, Serbia, the General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), which takes place every 5 years. Among the nearly 500 participants there were delegates of the member-churches of the organization, representatives of partner organizations, national councils of churches, observers, invitees et al. Present were also distinguished speakers such as the Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby, the Bishop of Bačka Mr. Irinej, the Syro-Jacobite (Syriac Orthodox) Patriarch of Antioch Mr. Ephraim II and others. Salutations to the members of the Assembly were addressed by the Patriarch of Serbia Mr. Irinej and by Mr. Igor Mirović, President of the government of Vojvodina (autonomous region).
The works of the assembly were centered on a quote from the Acts of the Apostles: “you shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). The testimony for Christ given by the churches in today’s Europe, which is being secularized rapidly and faces many and serious challenges: the waves of immigrants and refugees from the Middle East and Northern Africa, the terrorist attacks, the financial crisis especially in Southern Europe, the Brexit, the war conflict in Ukraine etc. The vision of the Conference of European Churches for a Europe of solidarity, justice and respect for every human being, as well as for the Creation that surrounds us, is defined in a multi-paged open letter sent to the member churches and to the European Commission, already since 2016, titled “What future for Europe?”
In its message to the members of the participating churches and to the wider world, the CEC proclaimed its commitment to respond to Christ’s call to become His witness, through a substantial demonstration of solidarity towards our brethren in Europe and beyond. As Christians we must pursue the prevalence of justice and work for the end of violence and discriminations, upholding freedom of religion and protecting the environment, so that our planet may have a sustainable future. We shall serve Christ by offering and accepting hospitality, towards refugees and foreigners regardless of faiths or beliefs. Finally, the CEC calls its member churches and all the people to unite in shaping a Europe where we build bridges for the benefit of our continent and the entire world.
The General Assembly’s communique makes extensive reference to the necessity of protecting and preserving our cultural heritage in Kosovo and Cyprus. Expresses the CEC’s support for the securing of religious freedom and the rights of free access, preservation and worship in sacred places and places of worship.
As the Assembly’s works took place, the election of the new members of the Governing Board was held. The Very Reverend Christian Krieger from the church of Reformed Protestants of Alsace and Lorrain was elected as the new President of the CEC. The Metropolitan of Sweden and all Scandinavia Mr. Cleopas (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and the Anglican Bishop Dr Gulnar Francis were elected as Vice-Presidents. Archimandrite Nektarios Ioannou of the Church of Cyprus was elected as a member of the Governing Board.
The Church of Cyprus was represented by His Grace Bishop of Neapolis Porfyrios, Archimandrite Nektarios Ioannou and Mr. Timotheos Zenonos.