Bishop Christopher Hill is the new CEC President

Bishop Christopher HillThe new Governing Board of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) has chosen the Anglican Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev. Christopher Hill as the President of CEC.

Bishop Christopher was chosen at the first meeting of the new Governing Board on Monday.

Very Rev. Karin Burstrand, the Dean of Gothenburg in the Church of Sweden is one of the two vice-presidents along with His Emminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France who stepped down as President.

Before CEC’s new Constitution came into effect on Monday, CEC had a 40-member Central Committee that met annually to oversee the implementation of the decisions of the Assembly.

A presidium of 10 members served as executive to the Central Committee.

The new CEC Constitution approved on 7 July establishes the Governing Board as the main governing body.

Striving for an eco Assembly

David Bradwell
Co-opted Staff, Writer, Church of Scotland

There is a tension between the environmental commitment of Churches and hosting a major international conference.

The churches in Europe are increasingly aware of their responsibility to care for God’s creation, including reducing carbon footprints, using fewer natural resources and caring for diversity and ecosystems.

There are strong links to this green agenda and the message from Rt Rev. Julio Murray to the Assembly on 3 July: “the concept of ‘good living’ in contrast to ‘living well’ as we seek an “economy of efficiency”.

The challenge for CEC is that Assemblies are costly events.

Travel for around 400 participants, electricity, and reams and reams of paper; there are serious questions that need to be addressed about how a green churches can be when hosting such big events.

To be true to the Old Testament imperative to care for creation it is important that environmental management is considered during the Assembly planning process.

Loving our neighbour is also a critical commandment in this regard, as Churches in industrialised countries recognise that those who suffer from the worst effects of climate change (such as drought or rising sea levels) are our neighbours who have often done least to contribute to carbon emissions and are least able to adapt and survive.

To this end the Assembly strove to be green; here are four practical examples:

– Reducing paper.  When registering, each participant was given the option of being paperless during the Assembly, and everything is printed on recycled paper.

– Meals.  All the meals served at the Assembly have a vegetarian option as standard, as meat production is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.  The Friday evening meal was meat-free.

– Recycling.  The Assembly tote bags, the plastic water beakers, the notepads and pens provided to all participants are made from recycled materials.  The Assembly venues (the RaM Coliseum and Helia Hotel) both have their own environmental policies.

– Travel emissions compensation.  Each participant was warmly invited to donate €15 towards an ecumenical project in Hungary to plant fruit trees.

Seventy church parks, gardens and areas of land have been identified for planting, which will be done in co-operation with the Plant Diversity Centre, an institute supported by the Hungarian Government.

Delegates and participants can donate by cash at the Assembly or through bank transfer:

Name : Commission Eglise et Société de la CEC,
Address : Rue Joseph II 174 1000 Bruxelles – BELGIUM
IBAN : BE43 2100 9891 5501
BIC : GEBABEBB
Communication: Budapest – CO2 compensation

This project, which works with local churches, is an opportunity to compensate in a small way for the environmental impact of the Assembly.

CEC President and General Secretary show satisfaction with the journey

Theodore Gill, coopted staff, WCC
Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, outgoing president of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), has said the 14th Assembly in Budapest has been “a long but fruitful journey on the Danube”.

At the end of the meeting, he said, CEC finds itself “sailing again with really favourable winds that will bring us to peaceful ports.”

(From Left) CEC General Secretary Rev. Dr Guy Liagre, press conference moderator Rev. Klaus Rieth and CEC President Metropolitan Emmanuel of France on July 2, 2013 in Budapest address the media on the future of the Conference of European Churches.

(From Left) CEC General Secretary Rev. Dr Guy Liagre, press conference moderator Rev. Klaus Rieth and Metropolitan Emmanuel of France.

Rev. Dr Guy Liagre, speaking together with Metropolitan Emmanuel on Monday 8 July at the final press conference of the CEC Assembly, praised the skill of three moderators who chaired Assembly sessions on the central issue of adopting a new constitution.

Initially, Liagre explained, strict parliamentary procedure threatened to make it “difficult to find a way out, amid the many amendments that were presented.”

“But we were led by three moderators who were so flexible that they could find a modus vivendi acceptable to all the delegates,” said Liagre, crediting this leadership for the Assembly’s “positive results.”

The moderator and co-moderators of the constitutional deliberations were Archbishop Dr Michael Jackson (Church of Ireland), the Very Rev. Dr Sheilagh Kesting (Church of Scotland) and the Rev. Dr John Chryssavgis (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople).

At the press conference, the CEC president addressed feelings of “bitterness for some people” experienced in the Assembly over changing constitutional approaches to the relationship between the Conference and other associations, especially groups representative of women and youth.

Provisions in the new CEC legal document, observed Metropolitan Emmanuel, are not perfect: “There is a lot still to be done. There is also room for improvement.” He cautioned that in attempting to heal relationships, “we look for light, not fire.” Discussion must not dissolve into emotionalism.

Liagre added, “Youth organisations represent youth, but churches also represent youth.” Young people and other particular groups of believers, he suggested, are not to be treated as separate from the churches but as constituent members of the Body of Christ.

Churches should support the marginalised

The 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches meeting in Budapest agrees  a statement on the financial and economic crisis calling for churches to remain on the side of the marginalised.

Delegates from the 115 Member Churches of CEC observed that the global financial crisis has left thousands of people in despair and that the gaps between rich and poor are widening in the majority of European societies.

The Churches in Europe have already sought to address issues of economic globalization by encouraging their members to consider their personal consumption of water, energy and scarce resources as well as seeking fair and just production conditions and prices for commodities.

In particular, concerns have been raised about forced labour and human trafficking.  The Assembly encouraged churches with specialised programmes of social assistance, such as education and health services.

Churches were recognised as advocates for the well-being of all humanity, especially when relating to national governments and decision-makers, and have developed policies of inclusion as well as credible alternatives on issues of wealth, poverty and ecology.

The CEC Assembly issued a call to its member churches to remain at the side of the marginalised in society and to jointly move towards credible and durable alternatives.

The 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches meeting in Budapest has agreed a statement on youth unemployment.

There has been a “radical increase” in the number of young people in despair, resulting in a rise in suicide among young people.

The CEC Assembly agreed that youth unemployment risked creating a lost generation.

The public issues statement draws particular attention to the reality that youth unemployment is disproportionately higher among black and minority ethnic communities.

The statement encouraged all churches to offer opportunities to young people seeking employment, including offering hope.  The statement concluded with the words: “investing in the young generation we ensure long term growth in the future.  Churches should identify their role in overcoming the increasing youth poverty and promote social justice and solidarity.”

The Conference of European Churches calls for action against prejudice, discrimination and neglect with regard to Roma, Sinti and Travellers’ communities.

The 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches meeting in Budapest agreed the call in a public issues statement on the Roma in Europe.

Noting that the 13th Assembly of CEC (meeting in Lyon in 2009) adopted a statement which expressed dismay and deep concern about the situation facing the Roma, Sinti and Travellers’ communities and the social exclusion of the largest ethnic minority in Europe, delegates at the 2013 Assembly acknowledged some of the good work which had been undertaken over the past four years by churches and the European Union.

They reiterated the call to churches to work for integration and against prejudice, discrimination and neglect.

The CEC Assembly also called on national governments to improve access to education, housing, employment and services for members of the Roma, Sinti, and Travellers’ communities.

CEC calls for dignity for undocumented migrants and a commemoration for lives lost by people struggling to reach Europe.

The 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches meeting in Budapest agreed a statement on asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in a public issues statement.  Delegates affirmed the conviction that the dignity of every person has to be ensured, regardless of their immigration status.

The CEC Assembly underlined concerns about the EU Common European Asylum System which has led to a disproportionate distribution of refugees and asylum seekers.  During the debate, a representative from the Church of Greece underlined the importance of offering hospitality to all people, but expressed a plea for a fairer sharing of these responsibilities due to the severe financial difficulties that Greek society is facing at this time.

The tragedy of a high number of persons losing their lives trying to reach safety in Europe was deplored by the Assembly.  Delegates agreed to call on churches in Europe to commemorate people who had died in their attempt to reach Europe.  They also issued a call to national governments to increase sea rescue services for migrant boats.

The Assembly in addition offered its support to the Protestant Church in the Netherlands for its ‘collective complaint’ to the European Committee of Social Rights of the Council of Europe regarding the treatment of undocumented migrants in the Netherlands.

European Churches offer solidarity for all working for peace and human rights in the Mediterranean and Middle East Regions.

The 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches meeting in Budapest has adopted a statement on the situation in the European neighbourhood, affecting church and societal life in the Middle East and North Africa.

Delegates agreed a public issues statement which expressed solidarity with brothers and sisters, Christians and Muslims, living in those countries involved in the so-called ‘Arab Spring’.

The CEC Assembly appreciated the efforts for democracy and stability, as well as for building a society in which human rights are respected.

The Assembly called on member churches to build and strengthen bilateral partnerships with religious communities in the wider Mediterranean region, and to continue to pray for peace, stability and prosperity for all people.

The CEC Assembly expressed sincere and anxious concern about the situation in Syria.

In particular, it appealed to those who had kidnapped His Eminence Metropolitan Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo of the Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch and His Eminence Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi of Aleppo and Alexandretta of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch to immediately release them.

The statement said that “keeping them far from their people is a sin against humanity.”  The Assembly agreed to send a letter to His Beatitude Patriarch John X and to His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I, whose respective Metropolitans from Aleppo have been kidnapped.

A message of solidarity to the Churches in Syria was also agreed.

During the meeting of the Assembly (3-8 July), the situation in Egypt has become violent and chaotic.  The public issues statement expressed sympathy and solidarity with the citizens of Egypt.  The Assembly appealed for all to refrain from violence.  CEC member churches were invited to support efforts for peaceful reconciliation, and particularly to pray for the Coptic Church and for their efforts for Christian-Muslim co-operation.

The situation for migrants and refugees attempting to reach Europe via the western Mediterranean was also highlighted in Assembly’s statement.  Many get stranded in Morocco, living in destitution.  Churches are among the few actors providing practical support.  The CEC Assembly calls on member churches to keep these people in their prayers, and to support all those involved in this important and difficult ministry.

European Churches Assembly expresses concern about electronic surveillance

The 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches meeting in Budapest has criticised surveillance which impinges human rights.  In a statement on public issues, the CEC Assembly acknowledged the new possibilities for spiritual freedom brought about by electronic media.  It noted that there was a tendency in several countries to limit freedom of expression through means of surveillance.

The long-standing concern of CEC for the protection of human rights was underlined, with strong concern expressed by delegates to safeguard freedom of expression, an obligatory prerequisite for religious freedom.

Churches express common desire to protect cultural heritage of Europe; calls to end violation of rights in Cyprus

The 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches adopted a public issues statement expressing that the religious and cultural heritage of Europe as being of paramount importance to European identity.  Delegates approved the statement which called for the protection of important religious sites.

Particular recognition was given to the positive steps taken by the Turkish authorities regarding religious freedom issues, especially for the Ecumenical Patriarchate (a member Church of CEC).

On-going concern was expressed about the violation of religious rights and the desecration of religious sites in the Turkish occupied areas of northern Cyprus, including issues around freedom to access sites, restoration of property and freedom of worship.

The Conference of European Churches calls for a fair trial for a leader of the Orthodox Church in FYROM, and his immediate release pending his trial, in accordance with the rule of law.

The 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches expressed its concern about the arrest and detention of Archbishop Jovan and noted that it is believed that his detention is a result of him exercising his fundamental right to religious freedom.

Delegates at the CEC Assembly affirmed the call by the World Council of Churches for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Religious Freedom and Belief, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights to urgently investigate this case, in particular whether the detention conditions are in line with standards set out by the Council of Europe.

The Government of FYROM and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski were urged to release Archbishop Jovan immediately, and to ensure that any trial is in accordance with the rule of law as FYROM is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The member churches of CEC were requested to join in prayer and solidarity with Archbishop Jovan by sending letters of protest to the appropriate authorities.

CEC to move its Secretariat from Geneva to Brussels

The Conference of European Churches has approved a new constitution that makes provision for CEC to move its Secretariat from Geneva to Brussels.

Plenary sessionIn the preamble to a newly adopted constitution, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) commits itself anew “to help the European Churches to share their spiritual life, to strengthen their common witness and service, and to promote the unity of the Church and peace in the world.”

The 14th Assembly of CEC in Budapest, Hungary replaced a previous CEC legal basis drafted in 1992 and last amended in 2009.

The new constitution was adopted by a vote of 160 to seven, with seven abstentions (160/7/7), on the evening of 7 July (7/7).

Assembly delegates are representatives from the nearly 120 CEC member churches and federations of churches.

Tuesday 9 July 2013 marks the effective date of the streamlined constitution meant to guide the Conference of European Churches (CEC) into a future of more closely consolidated operations.

The original offices that have been in Geneva, Switzerland since CEC’s founding in 1959 will be merged “as soon as possible” into the Conference’s location in Brussels, Belgium, home of the European Union and related institutions.

The legal steps necessary under Swiss and Belgian law may delay the final move for two to three years; however, this is a rough estimate.

It is proposed that an existing office in Strasbourg, France will continue CEC’s relations with the Council of Europe and other agencies, subject to legal and financial contingencies.

A Governing Board of 20 members will replace the larger CEC Central Committee. The board will gather at least twice annually to conduct business between General Assemblies to be held every five years. The governing bodies will be led by a President and two Vice-presidents.

The General Secretary will oversee daily work through the Secretariat in Brussels.

Existing commissions that make up CEC will be restructured into a more unified system. Conversations will continue with the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) which works closely with CEC and has considered merger with the Conference.

Five days of consideration and redrafting in groups large and small culminated in the “third hearing” of the constitution throughout Sunday afternoon and evening. During this “hearing” the text literally was read aloud and projected on a screen as delegates made final amendments and adjustments.

Some participants from associated organisations representing youth, women and other streams of the ecumenical movement expressed dismay at the new constitution’s approach to “Organisations in Partnership”.

They voiced the suspicion that this categorization, as defined in the document, would serve to disenfranchise these groups in comparison to the role of CEC member churches.

Although debate was conducted in English, French and German, the printed and projected drafts from which the Assembly worked were presented only in English.

The constitution will not be published officially until it is translated into French and German and there is a legal review of all three language texts.

Singing with Methodists

David Bradwell
Co-opted Staff, Writer, Church of Scotland

Budakeszi United Methodist Church won’t have a problem for animal extras if it ever wanted to put on a Nativity Play or Palm Sunday procession.

A donkey, a handful of sheep and several chickens all live in the large garden surrounding the church.

Methodist donkey

Methodist donkey

Churches all over Budapest welcomed CEC Assembly participants on Sunday morning, each to a church of their own denominational family.

Nine participants were welcomed at Budakeszi UMC.

Budakeszi is a small community set in a picturesque forest on the western outskirts of Budapest.

On a glorious summer day the buzzing of insects (and the occasional baa of one of the sheep) were the only sounds to disrupt the peace and tranquillity of the quiet valley.  The noise of the city centre (and the stress of the CEC Assembly) seemed a whole world away.

A Wesley scout

A Wesley scout

It was a special day at Budakezsi United Methodist Church as the scout group was being sent off to a summer camp in Transylvannia.  The group, named in honour of Methodist founder John Wesley, joined the service wearing their official scout uniforms, but, over lunch and before they set off on their long drive they changed into their ‘Keep Calm – I’m a John Wesley Scout’ t-shirts.

Methodism, it is often said, was ‘born in song'; John Wesley’s brother Charles was a prolific hymn-writer.

The singing at Budakezsi was robust and heartfelt.

The rendition of Fanny Crosby’s ‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine’ lifted the rafters with the chorus sung in Hungarian and English: “This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Saviour all the day long.”

The church is a new (and still not-quite-finished) building, but Methodist mission work has taken place on the site since the 1920s.

The property was confiscated during the communist era, and was returned to the church by the state in 1995.

The large site includes a garden for flowers, soft fruit, vegetables as well as a pear orchard and a small football pitch.

The buildings house a care home for older people (who help to look after the garden) and accommodation for around 40 students, who study at different colleges around the city.  The church soon hopes to expand its work, by establishing a project to work with disabled children.

Methodist church

Methodism is a minority church in every country in Europe.

There is therefore a great deal of commonality and fellowship amongst Methodists from different places; theology, history, style of worship are all part of the special closeness which Methodists describe as connexionalism.  The easy friendship between sister and brother Methodists made the visitors to Budakezsi feel very much at home.

The warmth of the welcome was a real highlight for these Methodists of their time in Hungary.

CEC vice-president Cordelia Kopsch finds a spiritual oasis in common prayer

Theodore Gill, coopted staff (WCC)Cordelia Kopsch

On the fourth day of a six-day Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) in Budapest, Oberkirchenrätin Cordelia Kopsch of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) described the meeting’s main issues and challenges.

She spoke to journalists at the daily press briefing.

Kopsch noted the importance of “spiritual encounter, common prayers and Bible studies” in setting the tone for formal deliberations. She praised the rhythm of morning, midday and evening prayer as “a spiritual oasis” for delegates whose nerves are sometimes frayed by long hours of discussion.

Kopsch, a vice-president of CEC, recognised the debate on a new constitution as the central matter at the heart of this gathering.

The proposed reconfiguration of the Conference raises a constellation of questions about CEC’s stance in relation to churches and European institutions as well as the churches’ strategies for action in carrying out their Christian calling.

Observing that “many people are not used to the process” of constitutional revision as applied at the Assembly, Kopsch felt nevertheless that “in general, we are making progress.”

She defended the practice of occasional closed sessions as “a quite regular procedure for delegates who wish to raise their concerns” and “reflect on their own” without excessive influence from non-delegates.

Swimming with octopuses at CEC Assembly

David Bradwell
Co-opted Staff, Writer, Church of Scotland

Vice-Moderator Very Rev. Dr Sheilagh Kesting. Photo: CEC/Peter Kenny

Vice-Moderator Very Rev. Dr Sheilagh Kesting.
Photo: CEC/Peter Kenny

It was a day of high drama in Budapest on Saturday as delegates of the 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches discussed and debated a new constitution.

Delegates, working under the theme “and now what are you waiting for”, worked on the detailed text which will define the future direction and purpose of CEC on the fourth day of the meeting.

It was evident from the first minutes of the debate this morning that tempers were beginning to fray.

Young participants and stewards who were to have presented a message to the Assembly were asked to wait until another time and some were dismayed that they had again been asked to wait.

After three long days of work, with many participants working late into the night, tiredness and frustration was beginning to show.

The Assembly Moderator, Most Rev. Dr Michael Jackson, thanked Vice-Moderator Very Rev. Dr Sheilagh Kesting for chairing much of the debate, by saying it was a bit like swimming with octopuses.

Some issues were put to the vote and the Assembly split down the middle on some of the key issues that will define the future shape of CEC.

The closeness of some of these votes may indicate a lack of consensus.

On Friday evening, delegates voted by 88 to 87 to remove explicit percentage quotas for gender balance and youth representation on CEC’s Central Committee, replacing a specific requirement which had been in place for more than 20 years with more general language.

Delegates wrestled with Article 5 of the proposed new constitution, which deals with the status of so-called ‘Organisations in Partnership’ (specialist Church-based agencies and organisations, such as Eurodiakonia and the Ecumenical Youth Council of Europe) and National Councils of Churches.

There were two directions which the Assembly considered: The first would be for CEC to be a focused association of Churches, promoting communion between established and traditional ecclesiological structures.

The second would be for a future CEC to be more accommodating for a wider range of ecumenical organisations involved in mission in its widest sense.  Controversially, the Assembly voted to move into a Closed Session (again by a vote of a very small margin) in order to discuss Article 5.

The mood amongst delegates in the afternoon improved, with more work completed and the atmosphere in the plenary hall much better, including jokes and several interventions of applause.

Moderator Archbishop Michael thanked delegates for changing from octopuses to goldfish.

One important debate and agreement was to include in the constitution a statement about values, including trust and respect.

This positive outcome followed an incident earlier in the day when one delegate expressed his belief that, if a vote did not go the way he wished, his church could leave CEC.

With only a few hours of plenary time remaining until Monday lunchtime and the close of the Assembly, the delegates will now have to work against the clock to get through all the work on the Constitution.

They will also have to consider the reports from the Policy Reference Committee, Message Committee, Public Issues Committee, Finance Report, Election to the Central Committee and a report from the Youth Delegates and Stewards.

The midnight oil will continue to burn in Budapest as this marathon Assembly continues.

Churches should not judge, but seek harmony, says Panama bishop

David Bradwell
Co-opted Staff, Writer (Church of Scotland)

Rt rev. Julio Murray

Rt Rev. Julio E. Murray, former President of the Latin American Council of Churches
Photo: CEC/Peter Kenny

Churches can offer practical as well as spiritual support when there is conflict, the Episcopal Bishop of Panama, the Rt Rev. Julio Murray has told journalists.

Speaking on Friday at a press conference during the 14th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches, Murray set out his belief that churches can offer practical as well as spiritual support when there is conflict.

“Churches are contributing a space for dialogue, where peoples can come together to answer questions, and even to raise other questions,” said Murray.

“One of the most important things the churches can do is to be present at the table and to raise the issues of peace.”

Bishop Julio, who was until recently President of the Latin American Council of Churches, gave Thursday’s keynote address to the CEC Assembly.

He stressed the need for co-operation of churches from different traditions and regions of the world.

During the Budapest Assembly delegates are being asked to approve a proposed new constitution for the future CEC.

“Sharing in solidarity means that you do not have to walk along in making these decisions,” Bishop Julio said.  “I want to reinforce how important the ecumenical movement is, based on prayer, partnership, in creating safe space, to be concerned of one another, to be supportive of one another.”

He reiterated a call for the Church to use a prophetic voice to denounce what is wrong in the world, and to promote the concept of good living rather than living well.

When asked about the current international incident between Bolivia and several EU countries, widely reported in the international media today, the bishop was diplomatic in his response.

“Churches should not blame or judge but try to find the solution which can try to find a harmony in our relationship for peace.”  He stressed the important role that churches can have in seeking better communication and better opportunities for identifying new avenues to build peace.

Behind the Faces – Clarissa

David Bradwell
Co-opted Staff, Writer (Church of Scotland)

Assembly co-ordinator Clarissa Balan. Always in motion! Photo: CEC/Peter Kenny

Assembly co-ordinator Clarissa Balan. Always in motion!
Photo: CEC/Peter Kenny

You may not have seen much of Clarissa Balan at the Assembly.
But she is always there behind the scenes.
Clarissa is the Assembly Coordinator and in many ways she has more responsibility for the smooth running of the Assembly than the Moderators, Presidents or the General Secretary.

The challenges of putting on such a big event cannot be understated. Finance, accommodation, conference venue, translation, interpretation, communication, timetable, travel, participant registration, printing and documentation…it’s all been taken care of by Clarissa and her wonderful team.

Friendly, modest and always helpful, she is the behind-the-scenes key to the practical success of the Assembly. She’s inspired loyalty and respect amongst the CEC staff team since she joined the Secretariat in January.

Clarissa paid tribute to all the work of her colleagues, including the volunteers, stewards and co-opted staff who have been in Budapest serving the Assembly; when I asked her about what she thought her greatest achievement was, and she replied “For me I see myself as part of a team, and that we have achieved so much together.”

Clarissa is hoping her work will enable delegates to come away from the Assembly with a good sense of achievement “in doing their part for a complete revision of CEC. It has been a privilege to support the process from behind the scenes.”

The journey to where we are today hasn’t always been easy, and as participants may be aware, each Assembly is a stand alone event.

Although there are some people around that have been at previous Assemblies, the long time between meetings, and change of personnel, mean there is always a lot to learn. The last few days before the Assembly began, and the first day or so was very stressful, but Clarissa is now thinking that things are beginning to settle down. The first couple of plenary sessions were “a bit chaotic, for example endless amounts of amendments and a lack of clarity of procedure which has really affected the work of [the] documentation [team].”
But Clarissa thinks things are going more smoothly thanks to the measures undertaken by the Assembly Moderators to deal with amendments to the proposals in a simpler and more efficient way.

Clarissa is especially grateful for the good team that she has worked with.
She has had a lot of previous experience in organising conferences, and has worked for many years with YWCA and WCSF-Europe. She felt very much that for this Assembly there was a team which: “when meeting for the first time as a group has a life to it. It is not automatic that there is a gelling of the group, but here there has been a coming to terms with the difficulties. We have been open, it’s been a space for dialogue as well, really addressing those things.”

And finally, I asked Clarissa about the proposed new constitution for CEC and what this might mean for the running of future Assemblies. She said that each event would be unique. “There are going to be decisions taken and changes made, but when it comes to Assembly arrangements, more depends on people’s vision and leadership.”