“Bridge-building”“Bridge-building”

Photo: WCC/Peter Wlilliams

 

For almost 50 years CEC has been working to build bridges between people, churches and organizations.


With the international divisions left behind by World War II and the “cold war” tensions of the mid-1950s; in a devastated Europe, with millions of stateless people and the continent divided between eastern and western blocks, the process of reconciliation of peoples, churches and leaders became paramount.

Building bridges

CEC has after its outset been working to build bridges between eastern and western blocks, between minority and majority churches, between the generations, between women and men, between Christian denominations; reconciliation; unity in Christ; peace in the world; and witnessing together are a few of the key issues that made up the work of CEC.

The founding

Initially a small group of church leaders in Eastern and Western Europe came together to consider the possibility of bringing into conversation churches in European countries separated by different political, economic and social systems. They met in 1953 and 1957 to prepare the path for what would become the Conference of European Churches (CEC), founded with the aim of enabling churches in Europe to become an instrument of peace and understanding as well as promoting reconciliation, dialogue and friendship between churches and people.

CEC’s first assembly

In 1959, representatives of more than 40 churches met in Nyborg, Denmark, for the first assembly of CEC under the theme “European Christianity in Today’s Secularized World”. The first four Assemblies of CEC were held in Denmark, a country which was considered sufficiently neutral at that time in order to enable the delegates from the eastern half of Germany to attend without too many restrictions.


In the following years, CEC has been acting on the problem of trafficking women, helping refugees seeking asylum from war and poverty, developing relations between different faiths and much more.


As a fellowship of European Churches, CEC was active in the struggle for reconciliation and peace and therefore called for:

  • the establishment of the Conference on Security and Cooperation (CSCE) and the implementation of the Helsinki Final Act which was seen as a significant step toward reducing Cold War tensions;
  • the creation of “the Churches’ Human Rights Programme for the Implementation of the Helsinki Final Act;
  • disarmament, the banning of chemical and bacteriological weapons and the protection of environment;
  • reconciliation between Christians of Northern Ireland;
  • the respect of human rights, dignity and freedom in Cyprus

 

A longer article about the history of CEC can be found here.

For the full text for downloading click here