European Christian Convention
Everything we know so far about the international event
A committee surrounding the European politician Sven Giegold and the Swiss theologian Christina Aus der Au has dealt with the idea of a "European Kirchentag" since 2013. In June 2015, the group invited over 60 people from different denominations and more than 20 European countries to a conference in Bad Boll. The goal was to discuss the idea of a "European Christian Convention", a temporary first name for the project. The conference led to a "roadmap" which recorded its results and will now circulate and grow among churches and organisations. Further planning for the project is now in the hands of a European coordination team.
The Belgian president of the European Forum of National Laity Committees Peter Annegarn put it like this: "All Christians together should be the salt in Europe. Europe needs the 're-invention' of human values and we can contribute together." Like the German Kirchentag, this gathering would be organised by lay people in cooperation with church congregations, Christian organisations and movements, as well as the official churches. It would be a contribution to creating a European civil society, in a spirit of respect and openness towards others. A preliminary project sketch chose these words to describe the project: "We wish to stand up for successful living together in reconciled diversity. We want to see Europe becoming an area for mutual encounter, for dialogue and for celebration of faith." The European Christian Convention is intended to link up people and organisations, wants to make faith more visible in the public arena and highlight the civil society commitment of Christians at the European level. The endeavour is for the convention to be held at regular intervals in the future.
The European Union likes to see itself not just as an economic community but also as a community with common values. Yet the question of our still common identity remains unanswered. It is rare to hear European stories about “us”. We have European institutions, trade unions, business associations, parties, NGOs and – of course – associations of churches. However, something that has been almost entirely lacking so far is regular meetings of European Christians committed to civil engagement in society.
Although a common public agenda has emerged in Europe in the last few years, precisely due to the economic and financial crisis, this agenda is not being tackled by an alert civil society as a joint project. Instead, nationalism and extremism are on the rise in many EU member states.
It is worth remembering that the peace and reconciliation project called Europe was initiated and taken forward by Christians. Many Christians still feel particularly responsible for Europe today. A united Europe is the precondition for shaping our common future in the light of human rights, social justice and cological sustainability. Members of the German Protestant Kirchentag community regard the idea of inviting Christians from the whole of Europe to gather together as a great opportunity.
So far, the most important result of the first conference in June 2015 is the "Roadmap to a European Christian Convention", which states a common vision, aims, open questions and first steps. A preliminary coordination team is comprised of people from France, Great Britain, Romania, Greece, Finland, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.
The organisers hope that a first European Christian Convention could take place in the early 2020s.
The Next Steps
To advance the plans, a second gathering has been organised this year.