What is CPCE

Communion of Protestant Churches in Europe

The CPCE is the communion of the protestant churches. 96 lutheran, methodist, reformed and united churches from over thirty countries in Europe and South America belong to it. With that the CPCE represents altogether around 50 million Protestants.

The CPCE exists thanks to the Leuenberg Agreement of 1973. It concluded: churches are allowed to be different because they appeal to the Gospel as their common basis. That sounds simple, but has far-reaching consequences: since then a lutheran minister can preach from a reformed pulpit or a French minister lead a congregation in Germany.

The CPCE (till 2003 “Leuenberg Church Fellowship”) has a clear structure. About every six years a General Assembly decides on the basic lines of its work. Between the General Assemblies the 13-member Council, headed by a 3-member Presidium, guides the work, which is coordinated by the office in Vienna.

Member Churches

98 churches have signed the Leuenberg Agreement since 1973 as so-called signatory churches. Seven Methodist churches belong to the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe on the basis of a “Joint Declaration to Church Fellowship.” As a result of several mergers, disbanding (Federation of Ev. Ref. Congregations in the GDR) and territorial division (Reformed Christian Church in Yougoslavia), there are at present 94 churches out of 105 member churches. Out of five Scandinavian Lutheran churches, which have participated in the Leuenberg Church Fellowship since 1973 as so-called participating churches, two churches (Denmark and Norway) have lately signed the Leuenberg Agreement.

Regional groups

The CPCE consists of 94 member churches. Many churches have combined in regional groups to strengthen collaboration between the churches and in so doing enrich the life of the churches. The regional groups consist of:

  • North West Group
  • South East Group
  • Forum of the Churches of the Northern Region
  • Conference of the Churches on the Rhine
  • Conférence des Eglises protestantes des Pays latins d’Europe CEPPLE

About CPCE

To make church communion possible it is important to come to grips with the theological foundations of ecclesial community. Internationally composed doctrinal dialogue groups concern themselves with differences in teaching and central problems of the church in the present.

The CPCE is at the pulse of the times. In the specialist circles on Ethics and Ecumenics it has two expert bodies which enable it to speak on important ecclesiastical and political developments and bring the position of the churches into the channels of politics and civil society.

Church communion takes place in the meeting between people of protestant confession from different cultural and church environments. In consultations and conferences the CPCE offers a framework for such meetings to take place.

Church communion must be rooted locally. Within the CPCE this is done by the regional groups, which each gather together a segment of the member churches. They enable cooperation across boundaries, anchor the CPCE in their own context and bring the specific experiences of their regions into the work of the CPCE.

The CPCE has something to say. It has given important impulses to ecumenism. With its study, “The Church of Jesus Christ”, a comprehensive protestant understanding of the church was formulated for the first time. The following study, “Church and Israel”, made this teaching fruitful for the relation between Christians and Jews. In recent years there were added weighty statements on ethical decision-making and on the missionary task of the churches.

The CPCE sets signs. Presidium and Council have repeatedly in the last years pointedly introduced a protestant position into important debates in society at large. Among these are the process of European unification, human rights, intercultural dialogue and the question of a “just war” as well as religious freedom and liberty of opinion.

The CPCE is a communion of churches in fellowship. By signing the Leuenberg Agreement these churches commit themselves to “common witness and service” and work together to come closer to each other wherever possible in spite of existing differences.

The CPCE is a worshipping communion. The churches celebrate services and the Lord’s Supper together; they recognise each other’s baptism and ordination. They exchange views on their liturgical traditions. And they sing from the joint European hymn book of the CPCE, Colours of Grace.

The CPCE is the joint voice of Protestants. Many of its members are minority churches, fulfilling their task under sometimes difficult conditions. In a changing Europe the CPCE strengthens and unites the voice of the Protestants over against the political institutions in Europe.