25 April, 2023
A webinar organised by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and Inclusive Peace on 24 April explored “The role of faith-based actors in political processes – comparative experiences and implications regarding Ukraine and Russia.”
CEC General Secretary Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen opened the webinar by asking participants to recall where they were the day Russia invaded Ukraine: 24 February 2022.
By coincidence, CEC had planned a large virtual meeting, so a few days after the invasion more than 100 people met virtually to talk about what had happened, to pray together, to share thoughts, and even to cry together.
More than a year later, the webinar is now part of CEC’s Pathways to Peace initiative, which focuses on Ukraine, promoting justice, reconciliation and peace. Through this initiative, the European church-fellowship engages in dialogue with European institutions, addressing crucial political concerns.
Alex Shoebridge, Head of Peace Process Support for Inclusive Peace, said that the webinar was part of a conversation his organisation—which he described as a “think-and-do tank supporting peace and political reform processes through evidence-based advice”—has been having with CEC.
Shoebridge then helped participants unpack the key factors behind a sustainable peace process.
A lasting peace, Shoebridge explained, doesn’t just involve churches. “It involves political actors of varying stripes,” he said. “It involves civil society actors.”
Webinar participants voiced their candid opinions on both the causes of the war and possible paths toward peace.
Participants from CEC Member Churches and partner organisations explored the role of faith-based actors in achieving peace and reconciliation, especially in their diverse social contexts.
They discussed the churches’ role in conflict and mediation, especially related to the Russian Orthodox Church and points of entry for CEC and the World Council of Churches, as well the issue of disunity among the Orthodox churches in Ukraine.
Rev. Alan Donaldson, General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation, described “the efforts of Baptist churches to have raised over $1.2 million, which will be invested in rebuilding churches in Ukraine after the war.”
He also reflected that “the ecumenical cooperation with the Orthodox churches in the Ukraine has improved after the outbreak of war especially in the ministry of common humanitarian work.”
The webinar brought to light the importance of European churches, as well as informal prayer groups, youth, women and professional communicators engaging in peace processes.
The webinar highlighted the need for the protection of religious sites and places of worship, emphasising that a common concept of security in European civil society should be developed.
Learn more: Church Response to Ukraine
Post expires on June 26th, 2023