We have gathered here in Serbia, grateful for the hospitality of the host churches and blessed by them, but at the same time we are also aware of the challenges they face. We have come together at a time of insecurity and uncertainty in Europe, in which many are experiencing the loss of their dignity and exploitation, enduring poverty and misery, and suffering from the abuse of power.
On the banks of the Danube in Novi Sad, where bridges were destroyed in times of conflict and rebuilt in times of peace, we have gathered here in prayer. We have brought with us our thirst for justice and our serious concern for people, our continent and our world. We have come to bear witness to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought healing and peace.
We affirm that we have heard Christ’s commandment to bear witness to him, and we wish to live with hope. Following Christ’s example, we pledge to be bridge builders through the transforming power of our faith. As a living testimony to our faith, we respond to Christ’s call and declare:
We shall be witnesses of Christ,
- by witnessing to Christ’s invitation of saving love and grace to the world.
- by coming together to enjoy our ecumenical community, their diversity and abundance as a gift of God for us to accept.
- by affirming that every person is created in the image and likeness of God and therefore possesses innate dignity.
- by creating an inclusive community that is committed to the well-being of women and men, welcomes people, and protects the human dignity of all.
- by being a multi-generational community that values the voices of the youth and young people, because they are not only our future but also our present.
- by showing solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Christ in Europe and beyond.
We will seek Christ and practice justice
- by pressuring individuals, institutions, and churches to undertake efforts to end violence, persecution and discrimination, and to support freedom of religion and belief.
- by striving for reconciliation and the peaceful settlement of conflicts.
- by supporting, encouraging, and listening to those who have been silenced or marginalized in our churches, communities and world.
- by treating God’s creation with care and by undertaking efforts for environmental and climate justice and for a sustainable future for our planet.
We will serve Christ by offering and rendering hospitality
- by generously and open-heartedly welcoming refugees and foreigners of all religions and world-views.
- by engaging in dialogue, speaking about our Christian faith and learning from each other.
- by raising our voice to overcome division, exclusion and marginalization and by undertaking efforts for human rights and socio-economic justice for all.
- by understanding and appreciating the hospitality that God has shown us through the creation of the world, and through commitment to the preservation of creation.
We call on member churches and all people to mold and shape Europe together with us, a Europe where we can build bridges for the benefit of everyone on our continent and throughout our world.
Together let us proclaim: “we shall be your witnesses”.
1 Choosing hope at the crossroads of Europe – Conference of European Churches in 2018