Meeting of the Polish Ecumenical Council

Michal Karski, translation- Magdalena Ignaciuk- December 2014

The General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan and the ecumenical activity in the regions were two main topics of discussion at the Annual Conference of Branches and the Commission of Polish Ecumenical Council.

The conference was held on 24 November in the Orthodox Culture Center in Warsaw. It was attended by the representatives of the regional offices and the committees of the Polish Ecumenical Council, PEC authorities with its head  Archbishop  Jeremiah, and two participants of last year’s General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in the Korean Busan.

The first part of the conference was devoted to the General Assembly of WCC . The delegates from the Assembly (Marta Całpińska – the Orthodox Church and  Father Piotr Gaś) told about their impressions from Buson. The meeting in Korea had changed horizons and encouraged to take action. I was impressed by how the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches both pay attention to the persecution of Christians in Egypt and Syria – said Marta Całpińska. She pointed out, that young people were often admitted to the General Meeting for discussion, but in most cases they were not  the delegates. She also cited the statement of Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church, which criticized Western civilization for changes in the sphere of family life, and warned against religious fundamentalism, especially radical Islamism.

Father  Peter Gaś presented photos of the Congregation in Busan.  – What captivated me was the atmosphere of the Word and prayer – he said. Lutheran clergyman drew attention to the diversity of the problems which members of churches around the world have to face. Some of the participants talked about the painful consequences of the economic crisis, while others have talked about AIDS and their personal struggles with the disease.

Polish ecumenical initiatives

The second part of the conference in Warsaw was devoted to the national ecumenical life in the past year. Polish Ecumenical Council’s director  Father Ireneusz Lukas said  Reported that recently a Kaliski PRE Regional Branch has been created. He said, that for the first time the central service of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be held outside Warsaw, namely in Opole. In January, the State Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church will sign an appeal about the day of celebration. While speaking about the PEC foreign relations, Father Lukas emphasized the importance of the project “Reconciliation in Europe – the task of the Churches in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and Germany.” – Today, this project is needed even more – said the director of the Council considering the current international situation. When it comes to the contacts of the PEC with the government, the most important themes are new headquarters of the Christian Theological Academy in Warsaw and the issue of teaching religion classes minority churches.

During the next part of the session, the representatives of regional offices and committees of the PEC reported their activities. In the regions not only religious services during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are taken but also various ecumenical initiatives. Father  Joseph Bartos from Krakow was speaking about a Bible Marathon, Father  Andrew Gontarek from Lublin about the ecumenical Way of the Cross through the city, Father  Janusz Olszański from the Pomorsko-Kujawskie Department in Bydgoszcz about Bliny, Father  Marcin Undas from the Department of Lodz about participation in the anniversary celebration of the ghetto and ecumenical broadcast on Radio Lodz. Father Adam Stelmach  from the Silesian branch was speaking about the conference on the different churches, which took place in one of renowned high schools, Father  Janusz Daszuta from Świętokrzyskie  branch about  the international ecumenical organizations within Europeada in Kielce, Father  Henryk Dabrowski from Warsaw branch about the Ecumenical University of the Third Age, and Archbishop Jeremiah from the Lower Silesian about the Department of Mutual Respect in Wroclaw. Father  Kopiński Julian was talking about the creation of the Kaliski Regional Branch, his immediate plans, and the ecumenical choir.

Was also presented the activities of the two Polish Ecumenical Council  committees. Biruta Przewłocka-Pachnik, the head of the committee, spoke about organized training and workshops. She also announced, that they will be continued next year. The chairman of the dialogue Tadeusz J. Zielinski told about ecclesiological conferences organized by the committee. He also suggested that it would be good to organize a conference on violence in the context of a family, society and the Church.