“A Call to Point”

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Leuenberg Agreement, the Council of the CPCE has highlighted the role of this Agreement in a call for reflection upon its substance. During its recent session in Vienna the Council paid recognition to the Leuenberg Agreement as the founding document of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, recalling its enduring significance for the external relations of the churches. “The Leuenberg Agreement calls the Church to be mindful of its vocation”, the Council reminds in its statement. The Gospel lies at the centre of all the churches’ utterances, forming the ground for their existence and the basis of their unity.

The Agreement also calls the churches to reconciliation and further pursuance of their ecumenical efforts. The re-examination of any enduring reciprocal doctrinal condemnations should ascertain whether either side’s contemporary doctrine continues to adhere to those points and if they really need cause such divisions, an approach that has already proved itself in the course of interdenominational dialogues. The Leuenberg Church Fellowship’s model of “unity in reconciled diversity” has also been applied in other denominational and geographical contexts since 1973 and will be a point of consideration during conversations with the Pontifical Council that commenced in February 2013.

Finally, the Leuenberg Agreement calls the churches to “responsible service in the world”. In their stance “for justice and peace”, as prescribed in article 11 of the Agreement, the member churches of the CPCE have paid increasing attention to the co-ordination of their socio-ethical endeavours and efforts towards raising the voice of the Protestant Churches in Europe. It is especially in times of crisis that the spiritual, cultural and social foundations of Europe should be brought to the fore.

Forty years have now passed since the “Agreement between Reformation Churches in Europe” (Leuenberg Agreement) was adopted on 16th March 1973 in the Leuenberg Conference Centre near Basel. It has been translated into many other languages since then, and a new tri-lingual edition (Ger-Eng-Fr) has just been published by the Protestant Publishing House of Leipzig to mark the 40th anniversary of the Agreement. Information concerning the many events and publications commemorating this jubilee can be found on the CPCE’s website at www.leuenberg.eu .
 

Statement on the 40th anniversary of the Leuenberg Agreement

Forty years ago, on 16 March 1973, the ‘Agreement between Reformation Churches in Eu-rope’ (the Leuenberg Agreement) was adopted in the Leuenberg conference centre, situated in the hills near Basel, Switzerland. The over 100 Lutheran, Reformed, United, and pre-Reformation churches who have subsequently signed the Agreement, in doing so declared pulpit and table fellowship with one another and committed themselves to fellowship in witness and service. On the occasion of the anniversary, the CPCE Council acknowledges the Leuenberg Agreement as its foundational document and recalls its lasting significance for the churches in Europe.

  1. The Leuenberg Agreement calls the church to be mindful of its vocation. It places the Gospel as “the message of Jesus Christ, the salvation of the world” (LA 7) at the cen-tre of all its statements and thus reminds the churches of the ground of their exist-ence and the basis of their unity.
  2. The Leuenberg Agreement calls the churches to reconciliation. This includes the un-derstanding of the churches over theological issues, which has taken place in the doctrinal conversations of the CPCE; work which continues in further conversations. This reconciliation also includes finding ways to overcome conflicts within the church fellowship. As sisters and brothers at the Lord’s Table the churches experience them-selves as a worshipping fellowship. As such, they are time and again encouraged in their service within the world and to stand up for justice and peace.
  3. The Leuenberg Agreement calls for ecumenical dialogue. It calls for the reexamina-tion of doctrinal differences and doctrinal condemnations in conversation with other churches, to determine whether these continue to apply and remain church dividing. This approach has also been productive in other interdenominational dialogues, e.g. the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation of 1999.
  4. The Leuenberg Agreement calls for “responsibility to promote the ecumenical fellow-ship of all Christian churches” (LA 46). The model of the Leuenberg Church Fellow-ship,´“unity in reconciled diversity“, has been applied in other denominational and ge-ographical contexts since 1973. 1997 saw the Methodist Churches of Europe join on the basis of the Agreement through their signing of an additional agreement. The Declaration of Amman by churches in the Middle East and „A Formula of Agreement“ by churches in the USA are other examples of the impact of the Leuenberg Agree-ment. The relationship between reconciled diversity and visible unity will be consid-ered in the conversations between the CPCE and the Pontificial Council for Promot-ing Christian Unity that began in February 2013.
  5. The Leuenberg Agreement calls the churches to “responsible service in the world“. This includes standing up for “justice and peace on earth between individuals and na-tions” (LA 11). The CPCE churches have increasingly learned to coordinate their so-cial and ethical engagement and to raise the voice of Protestant churches in Europe.
  6. The process of realizing church fellowship is not concluded, but confronts the church-es with new tasks again and again. Thus the Leuenberg Agreement is a call to deep-en the fellowship that has been reaslised, for that fellowship stand the test of time in the face of new challenges, and for this fellowship to be fruitful in service in the world. The Protestant churches in Europe, as a community, stand for a concentration on the spiritual, cultural and social foundations of Europe, especially in times of crisis.

The Leuenberg Agreement encourages the churches to pray for one another, to support one another and to worship with one another. “…speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ ...” (Ephesians 4:15)

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