Photo Credit: Anna-Julia Pekkanen / CEC
[ACNS] The Conference of European Churches – a European-wide ecumenical body which includes the Church of England, Church in Wales, Church of Ireland and the Iglesia Española Reformada Episcopal (the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain) – has appointed a priest from the Orthodox Church of Finland – Father Heikki Huttunen – as their new General Secretary.
Fr Huttunen has a wealth of ecumenical experience and is known for his lifelong commitment to youth in the Church.
He served the Finnish Ecumenical Council as General Secretary from 2006 to 2015; and the director of youth at the World Council of Churches from 1985 to 1989. Following his work with the WCC, he served as a parish priest in a new, multicultural community in Espoo near Helsinki. He was a member of the WCC Central Committee 2006-2013 and has represented his church at the last four WCC General Assemblies. He has also worked with Syndesmos, the international youth organisation of the Orthodox Church.
The President of the Conference of European Churches, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, the former Bishop of Guildford in the C of E, said: “I am delighted at Fr Heikki Huttunen’s appointment. He will come to CEC at a time when all Europe—not just the EU—is on a political and social balance of greatest delicacy and some danger.
“He will play an important part in helping CEC be a bridge-builder in this continent, the traditional role of the Conference of European Churches. It is very good to have a General Secretary from the Nordic region and from the Orthodox tradition.”
In welcoming Fr Heikki Bishop Hill also expressed his gratitude to current CEC General Secretary the Revd Dr Guy Liagre for his transitional ministry and especially his achievement in moving CEC to Brussels successfully.
“The task of the Conference of European Churches is to continue its service to the churches as a privileged tool of the Ecumenical movement. CEC's task is to assist and inspire churches in their mission and service amidst changing realities, and help to express the Christian viewpoint in new demanding situations." said Fr Heikki.
Fr Huttunen holds a master of theology from the University of Helsinki, and has also studied Orthodox canon law, Finnish church legislation, and systematic theology. He is married with two children and speaks a number of European languages including Finnish, English, Swedish, French, and Russian.