European evangelical leaders addressed their roles as transforming agents in an increasingly secularized Europe at the conclusion of their annual assembly in Tavira, Portugal on Saturday.
Over 200 Christian leaders representing 35 countries gathered for the joint four-day assembly held by the European Evangelical Alliance, the European Evangelical Missionary Alliance and Hope for Europe, building stronger ties and renewing their faith around the theme "Gospel Relevance in Europe Today."
"As a group of evangelical Christian leaders, we have benefited greatly from being together and thinking about our respective responsibilities in Europe," said Gordon Showell-Rogers, general secretary of the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA), according to report released Sunday by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). "Our hope is that what's happened this week might become strategic for the welfare of European society."
Networking opportunities sealed new and closer partnerships among the hundreds of European evangelicals for a solidified alliance. After a unanimous vote, EEA members welcomed the United Christian Council in Israel and the Protestant Evangelical Alliance in Bosnia and Hercegovina as their member alliances, now numbering 35. Membership requests from the European Evangelical Accrediting Alliance and JANZ team international were also accepted during the assembly.
With an expanded member network, participating leaders addressed their identities as evangelicals in Europe in the 21st century.
"Who are we?" was a question posed during the assembly.
The evangelical leaders newly assumed a broader role beyond the local church and into the political sphere of Europe. New developments in the EEA Brussels office have led politicians to take notice of the alliance's united evangelical voice.
Newly appointed Brussels Representative Tove Videbaek said, "We will do everything we can to further Christian values.
"In Brussels, we can have an impact on the politics of all of Europe because it goes from here to 25 countries."
As the European Evangelicals formed new relationships and stepped into new territories as catalysts for God, old and existing ties were also solidified.
The EEA adopted a statement recognizing a close partnership with the EEMA, whose collaboration dates back to 1984. Representatives from the two evangelical groups sealed their partnership with signatures at the close of the ceremony. The two alliances are also developing a memorandum of understanding with Hope for Europe.
Taking on several new changes and developments, the European evangelical leaders came to the conclusion of their identities as "Christian nobodies," according to Showell-Rogers.
"God has, in His grace, touched our lives and chooses to take our lives and make them count for something," he explained. "To make a difference in 21st century Europe, we do not need something that God has not already given.
"Europe needs us to be who we are, where we are at this stage in history," he said. "Europe desperately needs God to visit us and for God's people to live as God's people."