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Ecumenical Signatures In Belgium

On Thursday 23 January 2014, the annual Célébration oecuménique organised by the Comité Interecclésial de Bruxelles (the regional ecumenical body, currently chaired by Canon Jack McDonald) took place. Last year, the venue was Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral; this year it was the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St Michael and St Gabriel. Our host was the newly-elected Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium, and the service took the form of Orthodox Vespers, with many ecumenical interventions: there were readings and prayers from Roman Catholic, Protestant and Anglican clergy and laity.

The liturgical high-point was a common Kyrie eleison sung by the entire, packed cathedral. The ecumenical high-point was the Signing of the Constitution of the Concertation d'Eglises Chrétiennes en Belgique (the national ecumenical body, currently chaired by Canon Robert Innes). The Concertation celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and Canon Innes had arranged for sumptuously-bound copies of its constitution to be signed during the service, to volleys of applause from the congregation.

In addition to several recent joint pronouncements on issues of Belgian public life (most notably the proposed law authorising the euthanasia of children, which all the Churches strenuously oppose), the Concertation and the Comité work closely together in the area of religious education in schools, which is supported by the State in Belgium.
For more information on this service, including some excellent photos, see here: www.c-i-b.be
For more information about RE in Belgium, including information on Anglicanism in Belgium, see here: www.anglicaneducation.org

Information provided by Canon McDonald
 
Our photo shows Metropolitan Athenagoras on his throne, flanked by his clergy. Then, left to right, Canon Jack McDonald, Dr Geert Lorein (president of the Evangelical Churches in Belgium), Pasteur Steven Fuite (president of the Eglise Protestante Unie de Belgique), Canon Robert Innes and Mgr André-Joseph Léonard (Archevêque de Malines-Bruxelles).