CEC elects new leadership

19 June, 2023

New CEC President H.E. Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain. Photo: Albin Hillert/CEC
New CEC President H.E. Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain. Photo: Albin Hillert/CEC

Press Release No: 22/23
19 June 2023

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) General Assembly elected new leaders on 19 June.

H.E. Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was elected as president; and Rt Rev. Dr Dagmar Winter and Rev. Frank Kopania as vice presidents.

Archbishop Nikitas is coordinator of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Task Force on Human Trafficking and Modern-day Slavery, and has served as chairman of the Patriarchate’s Committee on Youth as well as co-chair and steering committee member of the Elijah Inter-faith Foundation. He is currently co-president of the European Catholic-Orthodox Forum.

The Archbishop said he has always believed that being a Christian means entering into dialogue with other people and other Christian communities.

“Yes, of course we have our differences but we have so much in common: Jesus Christ,” he said. “We need to know each other; we need to work together.”

For the Archbishop becoming CEC president, means becoming a shepherd of a flock. “To be president of an organisation, one deals with facts and figures but the president of CEC also has to work with people’s souls—and that gives me an opportunity to know about CEC in a different way,” he said. “Most important, I want to build bridges and relationships.”

He added that, many times, there is fear of the other. “I want my relationships to be ones of Christian love, ones of truth and honesty,” he said. “I want to help build stability in CEC’s offices, economic structure, and relationship-wise.”

A big priority is hearing more youth voices and bringing them into CEC to let them know what is really happening. “We need to know what young people think and feel, he said. “We hear from so many people that churches and congregations are shrinking.”

The Archbishop wants to rejuvenate those churches and give them hope. “We can’t say young people are the future of the church — they’re the reality now,” he said.

Rt Rev. Dr Dagmar Winter is Bishop of Huntingdon, Church of England.

“Europe is literally in my blood,” she said. “I have a British-Swiss-German heritage, and I rejoice that the Church of England is serious about its relationship with other countries in Europe, recognizing the importance, especially post-Brexit.”

She is a member of the Meissen Commission, working to further and deepen the relationship between the Church of England and the Protestant Church in Germany.

In her previous post as a rural affairs officer, she chaired a European rural development programme for her region which benefitted the wider community.

“Ecumenism easily gets pushed to the side when so many of our churches are struggling with diminishing numbers and shoring up their own institutions,” she said. “This is not what I hear Jesus calling us to do.”

She is passionate about helping to lead CEC’s work in carving pathways to peace in Europe, and also named climate change and migration as issues important to her.

“I’m inspired by the call of Christ to be one—and it is worth noting in these days that the one who calls us to be one is also called the Prince of Peace,” she said.

Rev. Frank Kopania is executive director for Global Ministries at the Protestant Church in Germany, and is also a member of the CEC governing board.

“Hearing the call of Christ, and living and witnessing as churches together in committed fellowship is the foundation and motivation of us as the Conference of European Churches and of course of myself,” he said. “Under God’s blessing we are called today and in God’s future to shape just and peaceful European societies, respecting the dignity of all humankind and the flourishing of all creation.”

He added that European societies are very varied now. “And so there are great opportunities out there for churches to show the world that we are ready, throughout Europe, to contribute to a common future together with all people of good will,” he said. “As those who live in Christ, through the grace of God, we are moved to build bridges and to create relationships of faith, hope and love.”

His vision is for more specialised bridge -building efforts. “CEC is building and maintaining bridges for churches and faith-based organisations so that they might share with European decision -makers their concerns and commitments,” he said.

Full list of CEC Governing Board Members

For more information or an interview, please contact:

Naveen Qayyum
Communication Officer
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Brussels
Tel. +32 486 75 82 36
E-mail: naveen@cec-kek.be
Website: www.ceceurope.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ceceurope
Twitter: @ceceurope
YouTube: Conference of European Churches
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