In the Starting Blocks

May 8, 2024 | News

Delegates of the CPCE General Assembly from ten countries and even more churches in Southern, Central, Northern and Eastern Europe came in Budapest. From 2 to 4 May, they were able to take a break from the day-to-day business of their churches and get in the mood for the General Assembly.

The regional radius of the preparatory meeting was quite large, from the Baltic to the Balkans. This was mainly due to the fact that ZETO, which had convened the meeting, is involved in theological and ecumenical tasks in this region. These are primarily countries in which the Orthodox churches are important dialogue partners. The Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church in Hungary hosted the meeting. In this respect, the delegates were welcomed by the Director of the Church Head Office, Rev György Kramer, and Bishop Tamás Fabiny. Klara Tarr (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary), Sandor Fazakas (Reformed Church in Hungary), Mario Fischer (CPCE) and Gerhard Servatius-Depner (ZETO) led the work during these days. The multilingualism was managed by a team of interpreters.

The texts of the General Assembly in particular were given sufficient time for discussion. They were presented by speakers from Hungary, Estonia, Austria and Romania, by experts who had played a role in the respective drafting process. As expected, the document on “Gender, sexuality, marriage and family” led to emotional debates, as such topics are usually taboo in Eastern Europe.  What was important, however, was the clear statement that the text drafted was by no means a text that the churches had to adopt as their own, but that it only offers the scientific instruments to deal with the topic not only emotionally, but also cognitively. The working groups of the General Assembly and candidates for the Council were also discussed and working topics for the CPCE’s future commitment were collected. General Secretary Mario Fischer summarised the CPCE’s strategy for the coming term of office.

But that’s the way it is on such occasions: A lot happens not only in the working units, but also in the open space around them. So, none of the delegates now come to Sibiu as if they were going to a “terra incognita”. They can now link faces to the names Hedi, Pál, Samir, Mária and Anton.

Thanks to ZETO, to the host churches and, last but not least, to the Evangelical Church in Württemberg, which contributed financially to the success of the pre-conference.  SC