The Conference of European Churches is an ecumenical fellowship of Churches in Europe which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The CEC Assembly is composed of the delegates appointed by the member churches and of the members of the Central Committee. Representatives of associated organisations and other church and ecumenical bodies attend Assemblies in advisory capacaties.

The beginning of CEC

The movement which led to the creation of the Conference of European Churches dates back to the period of the cold war. The fragmented and divided Europe of the 1940s and 1950s needed to surmount political divisions to devote itself anew to the peoples torn apart by the Second World War.

At this time a small group of church leaders in East and West Europe began to consider together the possibility of bringing into conversation churches in European countries separated by different political, economic and social systems.

Their aim was to enable the churches of Europe to become instruments of peace and understanding.

Exploratory and preparatory meetings took place in 1953 and 1957.

In January 1959 representatives of more than 40 churches met in Nyborg Strand, Denmark for the first Assembly of CEC. A second Assembly was held in 1960 and a third in 1962, both in Nyborg.

"The Ecumenical Forum of European Christian Women" was represented by Martina Heinrichs, former Co President, who gave a presentation of women's rights in the churches in Europe - in the aftermath of the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women, an item which was followed up by Fulata Moyo from the World Council of Churches. Martina talked also about the diversity of women in the ecumenical European movement, about feminist theology and - last but not least - about the Forum's project "Pop Up Monastery".

More than 90 people gathered for the 3rd Annual Summer School on Human Rights held in partnership with the Theological School of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Press Release No: 16/13
6 June 2016

Summer School on Human Rights: Human dignity doesn’t have gender or age

The Conference of European Churches, in partnership with the Theological School of Aristotle University, organised the 3rd Annual Summer School on Human Rights “Stand up for Women’s and Children’s Rights!” from 31 May to 4 June in Thessaloniki. More than 90 people, from different countries and representing a number of denominations, participated in the opening of the Summer School. Speakers included experts from Council of Europe, NATO, European universities and many CEC Member Churches and Organisations in Partnership.

The situation of women and children was highlighted and discussed from legal, theological, and practical angles. In many situations, women and children are discriminated or denied their fundamental rights, such as the right to food, shelter, education, access to health care, participation in society and so on. In some European countries one of three women are victim or a potential victim of different forms of violence, including sexual violence and harassment. Children often face various types of violence and abuse on a daily basis, including bullying in schools. With regard to refugee women and children, the situation is direr still.

Participants agreed that a common response is needed by states, societies, churches and other religious organizations, as human dignity does not have gender or age. The summer school facilitated the exchange about best practices on how to promote gender equality and the rights of the child in church and society.

Summer School participants learned about international, European, and national legal frameworks on the protection of the rights children and women. The United Nation’s Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC) and monitoring systems related to it are especially important for child-centred responses and safeguarding their best interests.

Close analysis of biblical passages and traditional teachings of the churches helped shape discussions. There was a call for a self-critical theology that takes children as a starting point and gives them a voice.

There were several study trips, including to the Centre for Roma Minors, to the premises to the NGO NAOMI, and to the refugee relocation center Diavata. The students who attended the summer school had also possibility to pass the exam from this subject and receive credit for their studies.

For more information on the Summer School programme, please visit the CEC website.