From 23 to 25 October, the working group on “Church Fellowship” of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) met at the Institute. The close cooperation of the Institute with the CPCE has been in existence for more than 40 years. The Institute was the place where, in 1972, the Leuenberg Agreement was worked out from the Lutheran side. The first Secretariat of the Leuenberg Fellowship of Churches (later the CPCE) was established in Strasbourg. Since then, researchers at the Institute have always participated in the various projects of the CPCE.
The General Assembly of the CPCE in Florence in 2012 called for a doctrinal conversation with the task of producing a study on “Church Fellowship.” The goal of this study is, on the one hand, to draw up an evaluation of the issue, and on the other hand to propose concrete suggestions for the further work of the next General Assembly, which will take place in Basel, Switzerland, in 2018. While the operational model of unity of the CPCE, namely “reconciled diversity,” has certainly proved itself, it nevertheless requires deepening and reinforcement.
After the first meeting of this working group in Strasbourg, a first draft was submitted to the churches in 2014. The churches in turn sent representatives to a larger consultation, which took place in February 2015 in Holland. On the basis of the feedback, it reworked the first version. This led to the consultation in Strasbourg. The group worked out a new template, which will in due course be sent to the churches. After the churches submit their feedback, a definitive version for the General Assembly should be finalized by another meeting in Strasbourg in early 2017. Michael Beintker of the University of Münster and André Birmelé of the Institute are the directors of this doctrinal conversation.