Amidst Potential and Reality - General Secretary Bünker delivers his report to the CPCE General Assembly

Erring between endless possibilities, because there’s always a different way, would present a serious pitfall for the work and methods of the CPCE, warned its General Secretary, Bishop Michael Bünker, in his report to the General Assembly of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, delivered on day two in Florence.

In his appraisal of the 29 tasks laid out by the 2006 General Assembly of Budapest for the attention of the Council and Main Office, Bünker singled out the efforts that have been undertaken since then to include more young people in the work of the CPCE. Two reports are being presented to the General Assembly in Florence in which young theologians were extensively involved. The average age of the authors of “Stand Up for Justice” and “Ecclesia semper reformanda” was just a couple of months over 30 years. For the first time ever a stewards’ programme, sponsored by the Church of Norway in co-operation with the Centro Melantone of Rome, has offered 18 young people - mostly theology students - from nine different countries the chance to participate in and make their own contributions to this General Assembly in Florence. A number of young vicars and ministers have also been seconded and financed by their home churches to support the work of the Main Office in Vienna and represent the CPCE at various international gatherings and conferences.

Another priority set at Budapest was the field of Education, resulting in a book publication and a consultation process on this subject in the interim period. “Our continuing work in the various aspects of education is of paramount importance, particularly in terms of the education offered by Protestant schools, which is where Protestantism makes a considerable contribution towards determining Europe’s future”, Bünker emphasised. “The incoming Council will now need to determine the next concrete steps in this particular direction.”

Bünker was pleased to report particularly positive progress in the work of the regional groups over recent years. In addition to the existing South-Eastern European and North-Western groups, a third group has been established since 2006, the Conference of Rhine Churches. A Northern Group is also currently being created that could ultimately provide the most suitable forum for the member churches of the CPCE from the British Isles. The CEPPLE, Conférence des Eglises protestantes des Pays latins d´Europe, has already voiced its intent to form its own regional group of the CPCE. “This heralds an important means for developing closer fellowship amongst the particularly small churches of the diaspora throughout the Romanic-speaking countries as well as a stronger attachment to Protestantism throughout all Europe”, the General Secretary said.

Bünker closed his address to the General Assembly with reference to the protagonist of Robert Musil’s “Man Without Qualities”, a homo optionalis who errs around in endless possibilities. “I think what he was missing is the Gospel, which is more true than any empirical reality can ever be. I consider the Gospel to be a particularly special gift that we can and should offer to all those homines optionales seeking a path of understanding and decision in today’s Europe. In whichever ways our individual Churches might and do differ, we are totally united in this mission.”

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