Wanted: Diverse but Unified Builders: European Evangelical Alliance Holds Online General Assembly 2021

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Under the title “Builders Wanted – Talent for the Kingdom of God,” the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) held its annual General Assembly from June 7-10, 2021. Due to the ongoing pandemic situation and related travel restrictions, the 2021 event was held online, as in the previous year. With over 100 registered participants from 27 countries, the EEA was once again able to live up to its character as a continental network of the evangelical movement in Europe with this inspiring event. 

During the four-day conference, different perspectives were taken on the building of the Kingdom of God in Europe – always with a focus on how to find builders who share in the great task. Different perspectives of diverse groups of people were discussed, among them young, old, highly educated and materially underprivileged people. Furthermore, the opportunities and challenges of building the Kingdom of God within and together with the diverse cultures and diaspora groups in Europe were highlighted in several sessions. 

Group picture of the participants of the General Assembly 2021 of the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) © 2021, EEA Office

“This was definitely the most diverse conference in terms of numerous dimensions that we have ever hosted.” said Thomas Bucher, General Secretary of the European Evangelical Alliance, after the conference. “The diversity of voices and perspectives from all generations, spheres of society, ethnic backgrounds and cultures was a fitting reflection of the big picture of the Body of Christ in Europe. We do well to finally embrace and promote the full range of this diversity as a characteristic of the Kingdom of God in Europe.”

During the General Assembly, Yassir Eric, Director of the European Institute for Migration, Integration and Islam (EIMI) was awarded this year’s HOPE Award. The inscription on the award statue states: “For his courageous journey to Europe and tirelessly promoting hope while sacrificially serving migrant communities in Europe.” The HOPE Award is presented annually by EEA´s Hope for Europe Networks Roundtable to a person, group or project in Europe embodying both the message of biblical hope and values such as partnership, networking, transformation, and integrity. With the presentation of the award, the Network aims to give appropriate honour to such people and efforts, and to increase awareness especially across national borders of initiatives which in turn can inspire further ‘actions of hope’.

Video recordings of each program segment will be available for viewing on the EEA conference website. Slide sets from some of the sessions during the digital General Assembly will also be available for download there.

The thematic orientation of this year’s General Assembly is related to the major, Europe-wide Hope for Europe IV Conference of the European Evangelical Alliance titled “Builders connected – Celebrating the Kingdom of God”, which will take place from October 5-9, 2022. The current plan is to hold the conference in Sarajevo/ Bosnia and Herzegovina, but with numerous hybrid event formats, so that participants from all over Europe can take part in the conference in a cost-effective and uncomplicated way.

The content of this year’s General Assembly was framed by two keynote speeches at the beginning and end of the digital event.  On the first day, Gavin Calver, CEO of the Evangelical Alliance in the UK, reminded that God is all powerful. He gave participants the challenge to stand up both with bravery and with kindness when sharing faith in Europe’s diverse societies. He also reminded everyone that Christianity cannot be swept away, and that this fact is part of what should make believers brave even in times of change and societal challenges.

The closing keynote address was held by Bishop Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General & CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), und Dr. Peirong Lin, WEA Deputy Secretary General for Operations.  Both emphasised the different and amazing ways in which God involves different people in the building of his kingdom in Europe. They further encouraged participants not to wait for the perfect conditions or to lament inadequacies, but to advance the building of the Kingdom of God with joy and commitment in the midst of the present times.

This was a very fitting ending to the conference and an encouragement to be involved in looking for builders, equipping them and supporting them in their task to employ their God given talent in the building of his kingdom.

The EEA, originally created in 1852, is a pan-European movement representing more than 50 national and international evangelical Protestant organizations in Europe, and 15 million citizens in the EU.