The 11th Assembly of the European Christian Environmental Network met at the Culture Centre Sofia in Helsinki from 11 to 15 June. More than 80 delegates from 23 countries from all regions of Europe gathered for a time of prayer, discussion, and networking.
The Assembly took place shortly after the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. The theme—“Water in a sustainable future”—was developed around the relationship between climate change, the water cycle, and efforts for sustainable development. The Assembly offered a venue for sharing and strengthening cooperation, and to further encourage the churches’ work in the post-Paris era.
Presentations addressed the theme from scientific, policy, and theological perspectives. An opening presentation from the Rt Rev. Graham Usher, Bishop of Dudley (Church of England) underscored the biblical and sacramental importance of water in the Christian tradition. The conference also gave the experts gathered an opportunity to discuss church action on climate change with church leaders from Finland. Throughout the assembly there was strong cooperation with the churches in Finland, including in keynote presentations from Archbishop Kari Mäkinen (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland) and Bishop Irja Askola, Bishop of Helsinki (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland).
Metropolitan Ambrosius of Helsinki (Orthodox Church of Finland) took a special interest in the group. He offered special greetings to ECEN delegates during the liturgy at Uspenski Cathedral on Sunday, offered morning prayers at Sofia, and participated in the assembly proceedings with a keynote presentation. Helsinki Cathedral (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland) and St. Henry’s Cathedral (Roman Catholic) in Helsinki also warmly received visits from ECEN delegates during their morning worship services.
At the close of the Assembly, the delegates approved a statement emphasising the theological and biblical imperative to work for water justice, and a call to action for individuals and churches. For the full text of the statement, please click here. A number of delegates came from ecumenical youth organisations and ECEN made a commitment to enhance youth participation in the network leading to its next assembly. For a complete programme and list of speakers, please click here.