CEC general secretary Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen expressed deep sadness over the passing away of Rev. Richard Fischer, who served as executive secretary at CEC’s Strasbourg office for over 21 years until 2016, making great contribution in the field of bioethics and education. “We will miss his humour, his expertise, his unfailing ecumenism and his sincere friendship,” said Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen in his letter to the Union of Protestant Churches in Alsace and Lorraine.
Rev. Fischer’s earliest studies were in philosophy and then theology. He undertook theological studies at the state-run faculty for Protestant theology in Strasbourg and completed his master’s studies with research on “Faith and Ecology: The experience of a church group.”
His early career was preoccupied with pastoral work in the Alsace region of France. In these ministries he first encountered issues that would later inform his work with churches at the European level. During this time, he worked in a number of diaconal non-governmental organisations focussing on social rehabilitation, just and sustainable development, environmental and human rights issues, ending extreme poverty and more. These experiences were instrumental in Rev. Fischer’s contributions in the first movement in France on political ecology.
He continued his pastoral ministry through 1995, working as a university chaplain in Strasbourg and dean of a church district in Alsace. He combined this work with ecumenical and interreligious tours throughout Europe and developed his interest in the work of the Council of Europe and other European Institutions. In 1995 Rev. Fischer was seconded to European Ecumenical Commission for Church and Society (EECCS, a predecessor organisation to CEC) by the Union of Protestant Churches in Alsace and Lorraine (UEPAL). Throughout his 21 years as executive secretary he combined this part-time appointment with work for UEPAL, the Conference of Churches along the Rhine, the Untied Protestant Church of France, and the French Protestant Federation.