The Conference of European Churches (CEC) has elected new leaders during its General Assembly 2023 in Tallinn, Estonia: H.E. Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has been elected as president, and Rt Rev. Dr Dagmar Winter, Church of England, and Rev. Frank Kopania, Protestant Church in Germany, have been elected as vice presidents. Along with another 17 elected people from Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican churches in Europe they now form the governing board of CEC until 2028.
Three hundred representatives from 113 member churches plus 40 national councils of churches and organisations in partnership met under the theme “Under God’s blessing – shaping the future” from 14 to 20 June 2023 in a unique building of Tallinn, a former power plant, which now is a stylish creative center. Six days of discussing, praying, singing and coming together from various Christian traditions brought an intense experience of Christian fellowship. Bianca Kappelhoff and Michael Jacobs participated as representatives of ICCS and IV, which are both official organisations in partnership of CEC.
Four keynote speakers – Mrs Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, opposition leader from Belarus, Prof Hartmut Rosa, academic sociologist from Germany, Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew – reminded the churches that theology is public and Christians have to embrace the challenge of contributing to an increasingly secularised political discourse. They encouraged CEC to raise the Christian voice in current conflicts and crises and to defend the freedom of religion and belief, wherever it is seriously threatened.
Workshops and hearings with representatives from Ukraine and international reconciliation projects completed the programme and looked at the specific role of churches in transforming violence and acting as change makers in post-war society. The CEC-project Pathways to Peace was presented in this context.