The General Assembly of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe elects a new Council and determines working emphases
Europe’s protestant churches meet in Florence in September. 250 delegates, observers, guests and media representatives are expected at the 7th General Assembly of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) from 20th to 26th September. This Assembly of European Protestantism, invited by the protestant churches in Italy, will set guidelines for the work of the next years.
The working areas for the coming years will be marked out in Florence under the motto, “Free for the Future”. Main themes here will be the future of the church community and the plurality of religions in Europe. Further important areas are the Reformation Jubilee in 2017 and Ecumenism.
106 churches established the church community of CPCE by agreeing to the Leuenberg Agreement of 1973. Together they represent around 50 million protestants. Church community in the sense of the Agreement is enabled by the common understanding of the Gospel. Differences of confession and church order lose their church-dividing character. The CPCE churches commit themselves to mutual witness and service. The churches celebrate worship and the Lord’s Supper together, ordination and ministry are reciprocally recognized. “Pulpit exchange”, when a Lutheran minister preaches in a reformed pulpit or vice versa, is thus not only theoretically possible but is regularly practiced. The same applies to the appointment of ministers beyond confessional or geographical boundaries. In spite of continuing differences the community has worked since its foundation to bring the churches closer wherever possible.
The CPCE General Assembly meets approximately every six years. It does not only elect a new council but also receives the results of doctrinal conversations, recommendations from working groups and proposals from studies. Motions are passed and sent on to the member churches. In addition the delegates will discuss questions of justice, the understanding of church office, a study of worship and questions of church training.
During the General Assembly in Florence broad room will be given to meet the local protestant churches. The roots of Italian protestantism go back to the pre-Reformation Waldensian movement. So the Assembly will celebrate its central Sunday service in the Waldensian church in Florence. Along with the Waldensian, the local congregations of the Lutheran and the Methodist churches in Italy are hosting the Assembly.
“The word of freedom has central significance for the protestant churches”, said Michael Bünker, CPCE General Secretary at its office in Vienna. “At the Assembly European protestants will be asking themselves: What does it mean to be protestant churches in our time and what shared and geographically, culturally or socially specific challenges face us? I expect the Assembly to discuss these questions intensively and reach decisions pointing towards the future.
Vienna, 11th July 2012.