What does it mean to be protestant in Europe, especially in regard on cooperating and coexisting
What does it mean „to be a church“ in an environment of ever growing groups of persons
who do not confess to any religious confession?
How does the concept of „Diaspora” feel, if we realize that practically no single church represents the majority in a European country?
How can Community be realized within our European Church Fellowship, considering the growing number of so-called Migrant-Churches in many European countries?
Is Plurality a challenge or a chance?
And finally all the discourses on ethics, primarily in view of the latest developments about reproductive medicine?
Almost 100 delegates - representing their synods of CPCE-Churches - confronted themselves with these and many more questions in the Third European Gathering of Synod Members (March 2017 , Berne).
The joint hosts of the Swiss Protestant Church Federation and the Reformed Church Bern-Jura-Solothurn could not have chosen a better place than the old city of Berne, with some churches in the vicinity of the meeting place .
It would not have been a CPCE-meeting, if the spiritual element was not a focal point during the gathering.
Already the opening service in the French Church the meetings motto „Protestant in the House of Religions” was reflected up with the biblical text “in our fathers house there are many apartments”, underlining the importance of the “open door” of such a house.
In their discussions of the given subjects the delegates made it clear how important the core-activities of CPCE, like Doctrinal Discussions, Experts Groups, and others, are considered.
Already during the first evening the role of Religious-Communities in our home-countries was reflected interactively.
Professor Dr. Bernhardt underlined in his Key Note Address the importance of dialogue und openness as central features of a uniting Christian identity.
An Evening prayer in the Methodist church closed this day,.
For many participants the visit of the House of Religions was an important impulse: This place of vivid religious life of five World-Religions is unique in Europe. Also for the city of Berne it serves as an outstanding meeting –place and cultural center.
The workshops gave the floor to lively discussions and exchange with the CPCE-experts around the conferences subject –matters which should be followed up within the home-churches of the delegates.
The reception given by the hosting churches in the beautiful ambiance of the old city of Berne has been a further opportunity for communication.
A really atmospheric Complet in the French Church concluded the evening.
The decision about the message to the CPCE-Council and the CPCE-General Assembly 2018 stressed once more the importance of such gatherings. The invitation of the Church of Baden to host the next meeting has been joyfully accepted.
The festive Communion Service in the Minster of Berne with the sermon of CPCE-President Gottfried Locher rounded the conference which certainly helped to strengthen the CPCE-community from within.
Photo: SEK-FEPS/Th. Flügge