Striving for unity and reconciliation
Since the beginning of the ecumenical movement, many people in Switzerland have been moved by Christ’s love to commit their lives to unity and reconciliation within the Church and throughout the world. The “Swiss Disciples” exhibition features 13 portraits of these women and men. These witnesses to their faith stand for the ecumenical commitment of the Protestant Church in Switzerland (PCS) both historically and today.
The witness of the Protestant Church in Switzerland (PCS) today
Swiss society is pluralistic, open and secular. Together, the country’s churches account for roughly two thirds of the population. In addition to providing spiritual services, whether through traditional or more modern forms of expression, the PCS witnesses its commitment to unity and reconciliation in a variety of ways. The Reformed tradition empowers individual believers and local congregations to take on greater responsibility. The longstanding roots of Christianity in the country’s culture and political structures, moreover, allow the churches to reach out to the broader community as well.
Here are just a few examples:
- One out of seven people in Switzerland live at around or below the poverty line. Social care, aid services, and legal advice are provided by the churches at all levels.
- The PCS raises its voice to protect the most vulnerable. It defends the primacy of the common good and supports fair economic rules over private interests.
- The Swiss citizenry is invited to vote on diverse issues several times a year. The PCS regularly offers background information and ethical guidelines to all voters, and addresses the Swiss parliament and government directly. It has, for example, recently called for more corporate responsibility concerning human rights issues on the part of multinational companies.
- The PCS is committed to fight discrimination against minorities, immigrants, and people with different sexual orientations. It respects gender balance and aims at being an inclusive church.
- The PCS promotes “the Season of Creation” with liturgical materials. It actively supports congregations in their transition towards a more ecological use of resources.
- The PCS enjoys a guest status in the National Commission against Racism, the Commission for Human Rights, and the Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics.
- The PCS runs chaplaincies in centers for asylum seekers, advocates for a more welcoming migration policy, and supports the integration of migrant congregations.
- The PCS dedicates considerable resources to fund the work of its aid agency, Swiss Church Aid (HEKS/EPER, 1945), which is active in Switzerland and 30 other countries. Swiss Church Aid, together with the mission organizations DM and mission 21 maintain and develop church partnerships on four continents.
- It is customary for the PCS and the Roman Catholic Church to work together at the congregational and cantonal levels, including joint chaplaincies in hospitals and prisons.
- The PCS and the Roman Catholic Church are strongly committed to working within the framework of the National Council of Churches to speak with a common voice on societal issues.
- The PCS is very active within the Communion of Protestant Churches in Europe (CEPE – Leuenberg Fellowship), and has held the organization’s chair three times over the past 25 years.
- The Swiss Council of Religions (SCR) was established in 2006 upon the initiative of the PCS to foster trust and personal relations among the leaders of the Abrahamic religions and to act as a common partner in discussions with the Swiss government.