General Assembly, Belfast, 2001
Leuenberg Documents 6
Church and Israel
Leuenberg Documents 7
Leuenberg Documents 9
Dialogue between the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) and the European Baptist Federation (EBF) on the Doctrine and Practice of Baptism
5th General Assembly, 19 - 25 June 2001, Belfast
Introduction and ContentMore than 160 church representatives gathered together at the Queen’s University of Belfast to the 5th General Assembly of the Leuenberg Church Fellowship (LCF) which took place from 18 to 25 June 2001 under the theme of “Reconciled Diversity – the Mission of the Protestant Churches in Europe”. The LCF Executive Committee had readily accepted the invitation of the Irish member churches. The choice of this conflict-ridden place Belfast as venue reflects the thematic focus. It is the specific task of the Leuenberg Church Fellowship to be engaged in overcoming the tensions and divisions caused by denominational divergences, and establishing the living together in a “reconciled diversity”. First of all the General Assembly discussed the results of the theological work between 1994 and 2001, among others the findings of the discussion of the project group “Church and Israel” and the “South and Southeast Europe Regional Group” and the draft of the project group “Law and Gospel” as well as the work of the Executive Committee. Secondly two important ecumenical dialogues were on the agenda. The basis of discussion about the dialogue with the Anglicans was the report of the consultation between the churches of the Leuenberg Church Fellowship and the churches involved in the Meissen Agreement and the Porvoo Agreement. The dialogue with the Baptists was discussed on the basis of the resultant report. Thirdly, besides the theme “reconciled diversity” framed by keynote speeches and visits to the sites of reconciliation work in Belfast, debates about important subjects ware carried out for the first time according to the “open space” conference method.
ResultsThe 5th General Assembly in Belfast exercised its due impact on the theological and structural work of the church fellowship and gave it further impetus, hence abiding by the tradition of the previous assemblies. Some principal resolutions were drafted. The regional churches were requested to carry out separate forums or regular consultations on important issues at supra-regional level in consultation with the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee was requested to provide as soon as possible appropriate materials to prepare in time the member churches for an active participation in the public debates on the future of Europe. These requests were to bring about reflections on the working methods of the Leuenberg Church Fellowship. The interaction should be intensified between the Presidium and the Executive Committee and with the appropriate secular and ecclesial alliances, in particular the CEC.
The results of the theological work between 1994 and 2001 were received by the General Assembly. These results have been published in the meantime in the bilingual series of "Leuenberg Documents". The General Assembly adopted with thanks the paper "Church and Israel". The churches were asked to make use of this paper in their Jewish-Christian dialogues. The paper "Church-People-State-Nation. A Protestant Contribution on a Difficult Relationship", results of the consultations of the South and Southeast Europe Regional Group, was also adopted by the General Assembly. The results of the consultations of the study group "Law and Gospel" were forwarded to the churches after the Assembly. The final edition of this text is now in preparation. Furthermore two new study groups were mandated to work on the themes "Shape and Shaping of Protestant Churches in a Changing Europe" and "The Missionary Task of the Churches in Europe". As regards the dialogue with the Baptists, the General Assembly warmly approved the talks already carried out and decided to continue the dialogue in an intensified manner. One of the measures taken to this effect was to invite Baptist representatives to participate in the theological studies in a guest status. The results of the subsequent dialogue between the European Baptist Federation (EBF) and the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (Leuenberg Church Fellowship, thus renamed as from 1 November 2003) ware published as Volume 9 of the series "Leuenberg Documents".
The General Assembly also elected the new Executive Committee of 13 members and respective Deputies. This Executive Committee headed by the three-member Presidium, is to carry out the CPCE business till the 6th General Assembly to be held in September 2006 in Budapest. Prof. Elisabeth Parmentier was elected the executive president from among the three Presidium members.
Some other churches joined the Leuenberg Church Fellowship between 1994 Vienna and 2001 Belfast by signing the Leuenberg Agreement. These churches are: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and Other States, the Evangelical Church in Germany, the Lutheran Church of Norway and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark.
The results, documents, reports and resolutions of the General Assembly were published in the documentation book of the Belfast Assembly which can be read here. The book can also be ordered with the Lembeck Publishing House.