Yesterday started the first plenary meeting of the new Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) in Wavre, near Brussels (Belgium). The 24 members of the Commission nominated last December, observers from European National Councils of Churches and other ecumenical bodies, along with CEC staff will be attending. The total participation will be over 50 people, coming from 22 European countries.
The agenda includes the election of a new Moderator and Executive Committee of the Commission, the review of the mandates received by the recent CEC Assembly (Trondheim, Norway, 25 June - 2 July 2003), and the adoption of a work programme for the years 2004-2009.
The enlargement of the European Union (EU) and the issue of an "open, transparent and regular dialogue" between the churches and the EU will also be part of the discussion.
In the midst of the 4- day conference, participants will attend a special ecumenical worship service in Brussels' Church of the Dominican on Thursday 29 April, to mark the occasion of the accession of ten new Member States into membership of the EU.
The Revd Jean-Arnold de Clermont, President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), will be preaching. Lay and ordained people from a wide variety of church traditions (Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox) will also be taking part in the service.
The service will be organized by Association of World Council of Churches related development agencies (APRODEV), Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe (EYCE), Soul for Europe, United Protestant Church of Belgium (EPUB), Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) and etc.
The Church and Society Commission is the result of the merger of CEC's work on church and society issues and the European Ecumenical Commission for Church and Society (EECCS), which was completed on 1 January 1999.
Its task is to help the churches study church and society questions from a theological and social ethical perspective, especially those with a European dimension. It also represents the member churches of CEC in their relations with political institutions working in Europe.