Council of WCRC Europe comes together in Warsaw
Are the effects of Communism still burdening our present in Europe; in terms of political relations, sociological findings and church fellowship? Does “post-communism” mean anything or is it just an idea? Is there still a gap between East and West, two decades after the fall of the iron curtain? In short – is the past of Communism still a challenge to the European community? How are we, as churches, involved in this conversation?
These questions were discussed during the meeting of the Council of the European Area of the World Communion of Reformed Churches in Warsaw (27th and 28th March 2014). Leaders of European Churches came together for two days in Warsaw to think about the question of how we, as churches in Europe, can work together to form and maintain a strong community. Because the meeting was convened in an Eastern European country, it was obvious to reflect together on both the past and the current position of the churches in Eastern Europe, and about the impact of the past on individual churches and on the relationships between them. The sociological developments of secularization and changes of the position of the church in society were also discussed.
Of course, a conclusion couldn’t be drawn, but more than once it was clear how important it is that churches should be open to each other's vasty different experiences. We were reminded that only if we, as churches, are willing to understand each other's past, will is be possible to build good relationships and work together on the mission of the Church in this time.
The representatives of European Churches also visited the monument in the former Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, and remembered the incomprehensible cruelty that prevailed there during the Second World War.
Warsaw is a place with horrible memories. During World War Two, it was the scene of two uprisings; both were brutally crushed by the German occupiers, who killed many thousands and set out to wipe Warsaw off the map of Europe as punishment. The first uprising was in the Jewish ghetto in 1943, followed by the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. After the crushing of the uprising, the entire ghetto was destroyed. Right in the middle of the former ghetto now stands the monument in memory of the many victims.
The council had to elect the leadership of WCRC Europe for the next three years. The following were elected to serve on the Steering Committee:
President: Rev. Jan-Gerd Heetderks
Vice-president: Martina Wasserloos-Strunk
Vice-president: Rev. Balázs Odor
Secretary: Rev. Sandy Horsburgh
The other members of the Steering Committee are Kerstin Koch, who serves as Treasurer, and Rev. Bas Plaisier, the Vice-president of WCRC global.