Pre-'Together for Europe' Congress commences Today

( [email protected] ) May 06, 2004 11:45 AM EDT

The very first ecumenical gathering “Together for Europe” hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) is fast approaching. On the May 6, around 2000 delegates will first gather in Stuttgart to join the congress as a prologue to this historical event which begins on the 8th May. 1600 are from Germany and 400 from countries of Eastern and Western Europe.

The aim of the congress is to deepen the understanding of the richness of each individual community.

The morning sessions on Thursday, May 6, and Friday, May 7, will include talks, testimonies and songs of praise. On Thursday afternoon, 32 forums will be held focusing on three themes.

Under the theme “Union with God”, participants will share their personal experience of evangelism and mission work. After the testimony, quiet time is allowed for silent reflection and to experience the presence of God in the path of faith and ministry.

“Life in Community” will be another forum directing Christians to build up a spiritual orientation when playing different roles in the communities. “Being christians in marriage and family life”, “How to give life to groups and communities in our cities”, “Relationship among generations” and “A school of life” are some of the examples.

The last forum is “Social Life”, controversial topics like pro-life issue, drug abuse, economic environment, ecology will be discussed.

Each discussion group in the forum will be comprised with representatives from different communities, so as to give opportunity for an exchange of gifts and experiences in various spheres of action.

What is more inspiring is the active participation of young people in this event. Religious conferences may make people think of the scene where a panel of mature and serious Christian top figures sitting together. In the basis of open dialogue to all levels and the belief that “if young people are committed to Europe, this continent will have a future”. The YMCA/YMCA Munich has spearheaded the drive in encouraging young people to join the meeting and share their vision for the future of Europe and the commitments they are prepared to assume.

Particularly, they are asked to consider how they themselves could "give a soul" to Europe. Young people and groups who have been discussing the question mentioned above via Internet can meet personally and learn from each other. The platforms will focus on four topics which are in line with the four central topics of the meeting Together for Europe on 8th May.

At the end of the 2-day congress, on the Friday afternoon, a draft of future plan and strategy in Europe is also expected to be made up as the conclusion.

The results will be presented on May 8. The format of presentation allows creativity. At the end of the meeting, a concluding statement from the younger generation "Together we want to commit ourselves to a Europe that …." is to be drawn up.