A bittersweet meeting took place last week in the Baltic city of Tallinn, nestled on the northern coast of Estonia. It was a time of reflection, of encounter, and of looking towards the future.

For their final meeting, the Young Theologians in Communion of the CPCE met for a study conference to produce a message for the General Assembly, provide feedback and advice for the next group of CPCE Young Theologians, and learn more about CPCE’s ecumenical dialogues and the situation of the churches in Estonia. Matthias Burghardt, pastor of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELC) in Tallinn, welcomed us as our host, and the conference took place at the German Congregation’s building.

The schedule in Tallinn was compact, with many presentations and time to work in groups on two different objectives on the agenda. The first objective was to prepare a contribution to the General Assembly, a message to inform the Assembly about the Young Theologians in Communion group and the topics that it feels are most important for the CPCE to focus on in the coming years. The second group was also tasked with looking towards the future and creating a “Young Theologians Handbook”.

The trip to Tallinn gave the group an opportunity to meet with quite a few notable church figures living in Estonia. On Tuesday, the group had the pleasure of visiting the EELC Consistory and meeting with Archbishop Urmas Viilma. He spent 90 minutes with the group talking about church relations within Estonia, the influence of neighbouring churches and countries on the EELC and Estonian life, and talked about his experiences as a “young” bishop. A main area of focus for him and the churches in Estonia is the idea that it is a predominately atheist/agnostic nation, with only around of 20% of people professing to believe in God. Helle Liht, Assistant General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation (EBF), and Thomas-Andreas Põder, study secretary of the CPCE also made appearances and met with the group.

To cap off the conference, the Young Theologians engaged in a shared worship service, organized entirely by members of the group. Sharing in the Lord’s Supper, song, and prayer, the group celebrated the end of their final meeting and the opportunities for lived church communion they had experienced over the past 5 years.

The Young Theologians in Communion group has been meeting since 2020 with individuals from Member Churches across the Communion. The group has previously met in Cambridge, Rome, and Leipzig, and have received a comprehensive overview of what the CPCE does, how it works, and what partnerships and resources it works with. These Young Theologians come from many different academic and professional backgrounds, and this diversity of thought has led to frutiful discussions and impulses that the CPCE as a whole can take note of. The group’s term will come to a close when the General Assembly takes place in Sibiu.

The CPCE is so thankful for the contributions of this group to CPCE work as whole through involvement in consultations, working processes, and regional groups. We look forward to hearing about all the great work these Theologians do in the future and look forward to future encounters across Europe.