Renewal and simplification: what is the Uppsala Report all about?

For the Conference of European Churches (CEC) to be successful in the future, it must renew its vision and strategic goals. The CEC should also simplify its organisation by reducing the size of its General Assembly and dissolving the Commissions as separate organisational entities while safeguarding their activities. These are some of the conclusions that the Revision Working Group will present in its report to the General Assembly in Budapest in 2013. 

The Uppsala Report is an important document for the General Assembly in Budapest. The report is the result of the mandate given at the General Assembly in Lyon in 2009, when a special Revision Working Group (RWG) was established with the task of developing recommendations for the reform and overhaul of the CEC as a whole.   The RWG, comprising 15 people from various churches and denominations started its work in the autumn of 2009 and  finalised its report at its eighth meeting, which took place in Uppsala, Sweden, in November 2012. 

Renewal of vision, mission and strategic goals

It was clear from the outset that it was not possible to start with organisational issues; instead fundamental work on a new strategic framework for the CEC was required. The RWG observed that several good attempts have been made in recent years – above all in light of the developments in Europe following the fall of the Iron Curtain – but that none of them have been completed. The RWG’s assessment of the documents available on the subject is presented at the end of the report and leads to the conclusion that they are insufficient and fragmented, and that cohesive work on the vision, mission and strategic goals must be undertaken at a basic level.

The work on the vision and goals has led to the proposals that are put forward in the first part of the report and contains a statement of faith, a historical narrative, a vision for the CEC and Europe, a description of the mission of the CEC, a proposal for core values and a number of strategic goals for the next few years.

Simplified organisation with integrated commissions
The subsequent task of the RWG was to assess whether the current organisational structure could serve the direction that the RWG proposes. This assessment is presented in the latter part of the report. Above all, the RWG observed that the current organisation does not allow efficient governance and management. In the second part of the report the RWG therefore proposes a simplified organisation with a smaller General Assembly and a Governing Board that is smaller than the Central Committee. The areas of work of the Commissions are to be safeguarded, but the Commissions in the form of separate organisational entities should be dissolved. The new structure   deems to facilitate both governance and management and is better suited to fit a smaller budget framework. The aim is to create a clearer and simpler organisation that is not cost-driven. One part of the proposal is to relocate CEC offices to Brussels.

The RWG’s proposal is supplemented by a proposal for a revised Constitution that reflects the proposals that the group presents in its report. From a formal point of view, the proposed revised Constitution is the main issue on which the General Assembly in Budapest will base its deliberations and make its decision.

Member Churches more active in the work
A basic prerequisite for the entire proposal is that the Member Churches commit themselves to be involved in the CEC’s work not only financially but also in the development of various projects and programmes.

In accordance with the remit from Lyon, a preliminary proposal from the RWG was sent to all Member Churches for consultation during the first half of 2012. In drawing up its final proposal, the RWG has, to the greatest extent possible, taken the responses received into consideration.

Anders Lindberg
Church of Sweden
Member of the RWG