• If we didn’t have a Conference of European Churches we would need to invent it!

    I am journeying back from Budapest after six days representing the European Baptist Federation at the 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches. It has been an important experience. I was at the 11th Assembly in Graz and the 13th in Lyon. On each occasion I have marveled at the range of Orthodox, Protestant and Free Churches across Europe ( about 130 churches in total) who have been cooperating together since the 1960’s. Of course, there are tensions. There is an on-going dispute between the Ecumenical Patriarch in Byzantium (Constantinople/Istanbul) with his brother in Christ in the Third Rome (Moscow) regarding Estonia. The Orthodox struggle if documents include the…

  • A rich bouquet

    That’s the image that comes to my mind when I think of my last ten days spent among the Baptists of the world.  Each year, the Baptist World Alliance Annual Gathering takes place in July – this time in Ocho Rios resort in Jamaica. The Gathering was preceded by the Baptist International Conference of Theological Educators (BICTE), and both myself and Parush had the privilege of taking part in both of these events. Talks of ‘unity in diversity’ can sound superficial, but that really has been our experience. The diversity, or the variety of the bouquet, is striking: cultures, languages, theological persuasions, church practices, political situations… But then, on the…

  • CEC AND THE GREAT EJECTION

    The Conference of European Churches (CEC) Assembly in Budapest is debating “The Uppsala Report” on restructuring the CEC in the light of work done by the Revision Working Group since the last Assembly in Lyon. Saturday morning saw the Assembly debating the place of partner organizations, such as the European Baptist Federation (EBF), all the Europe-wide networks for women, youth, higher education, chaplains and the like who, in the past, have been integral to the life of the CEC, been involved in Commissions, working groups etc. Now, the desire of the member churches (well, some of them) is to have an ecclesial structure which focuses on member churches and, in…

  • The danger of showing maps

    I have long since argued that Baptists know something about mission, but nothing about geography. Our European Baptist Federation (EBF) includes Baptist Unions in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia – stretching the official definition of Europe way beyond that understood by politicians and geographers. At the second day of the 14th Conference of European Churches Assembly the General Secretary was presenting his report and as is the norm for such events now, it was being accompanied by a varied selection of power point slides. He made some reference to the churches of Europe and up came the inevitable slide, no doubt downloaded from Google images. At the…

  • A message from the 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches in Budapest

    On a very hot afternoon in Budapest we have celebrated the opening of the fourteenth Assembly of the Conference of European Churches. The auditorium itself is a theatre, which has been turned into a conference setting, so with bright sunshine outside we are now corralled into a cool, dark setting listening to the President of CEC, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France. We were allowed out to cross the road to a Reformed Church for the opening ceremony , which was broadcast on Hungarian TV. Here there was much light – reinforced with the TV lighting so we all began to boil. The efficient young stewards distributed cups of water. It was…