IBTS travels

Protestants Anonymous

At the 13th CEC Assembly it was decided that on Friday we should consume our lunch-in-a-bag in “confessional groups”. It was declared only three such groups would be allowed – Anglicans and Old Catholics; Orthodox and Protestant. I duly joined several hundred others in the “Protestant” meeting presided over by Bishop Tomas Wipf (Switzerland), President of CPCE (the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe), so immediately we Baptists didn’t feel at home as CPCE declined to have us associated with them some time ago.

Then the meeting was run more like an audience with the Pope, with Bishop Wipf doing most of the talking and setting his own agenda. Over 50% of the meeting was taken up with re-hashing a debate from the morning plenary about reforming CEC – the EKD (German Lutherans) want to do it one Teutonic way, whilst the Nordic-Baltic Protestant Churches want to do it another. From that argument about dates and numbers, we moved on to one about money – why will the Assembly loose Euro 300,000? Again, not at all clearly. Finally, a representative of the Congregational Federation from England got up and said he thought he had come to the CEC Assembly to talk about “Hope” and how the churches of Europe could advance together. As a member of a smaller church he was left feeling isolated and ignored – absolutely, brother!

So perhaps we gathering churches ought really to “free” ourselves from this notion that we are just sociological mess-ups on the edge of magisterial Protestantism – let’s start a Protestant Anonymous to help us kick the habit so we can move positively into a phase of being Gathering, convictional, radical, intentional churches really interested in what being missional in Europe is about now and not whether CEC SO 8.12 (let the reader understand!) really applies to our recycled lunch bags.

– Keith

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