Europe’s synod members assemble in Bern this Reformation year

Representing 100 churches and 30 countries, over 100 synod members from the churches of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) are meeting from 10-12 March in Bern. A public festive worship service at the Bern Minster will include the chance to meet with church leaders from all throughout Europe.
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The conference in the Old Town of Berne will be the third such meeting following those in Bad Boll, Germany in 2012 and Budapest in 2014. The event will be part of the celebrations taking place in Switzerland to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. With the conference motto “Being Protestant in the House of Religions”, the event will indeed include a visit to Bern’s House of Religions, a unique institution within Europe that serves as a center of dialogue and culture bringing together eight religious traditions.

As Gottfried Locher, President of the CPCE and the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) explained: “Europe is multicultural and multireligious. We wish to live together in peace but that can be a challenge at times.” He added that “Bern’s House of Religions does valuable work. Religions speak with one another there, not about one another.”

In five workshops, participants will discuss matters of urgency to the Protestant churches of Europe. The conference will focus in particular on how the Christian faith acts with regard to other religions. This question is just as much a current topic at the CPCE as is the matter of how to further deepen the community among the Protestant churches of Europe and make this community more visible.

The synod member conference is tied into the process of preparing for the 2018 CPCE General Assembly in Basel. The synod members will report back to their churches on the results of their work and will come together to agree on a message to be presented to the Council and CPCE General Assembly. This message will also include whether and how this platform of expanded exchange among Europe’s Protestant churches is to be continued.

All who are interested are invited to attend the public festive worship service on Sunday, March 12 at 10 a.m. in the Bern Minster. Gottfried Locher, President of the CPCE and FSPC, will hold the sermon. There will be an opportunity to meet with council members in front of the Basel Minster following the service.

“Being Protestant in the House of Religions” is being organized together by the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, and the Reformed Churches of Bern-Jura-Solothurn. The goals of the synod member gatherings include the deepening of church community, strengthening avenues of democratic cooperation, and contributing toward European unity.

Further information can be found in German or French at www.ref-500.ch.