After four years as CEC general secretary, Dr. Jørgen Skov Sørensen's exciting ecumenical journey continues. 

After four years as CEC general secretary, Dr. Jørgen Skov Sørensen's exciting ecumenical journey continues. 


In his new capacity as international business developer at ChurchDesk, a private company specializing in software solutions for churches, Sørensen returns to a more congregational outlook. 
“A challenging task, but not that different. I will continue to focus on how to assist churches, just like in CEC, but from a different angle,” he says. 
Curious and always eager to explore unchartered territory, it is not the first time Sørensen switches perspectives. More than 30 years of service at all levels of ecumenism in different countries has taught him that the local level remains the foundation of the ecumenical movement. 
“Sharing local concerns with local people forms the base of something larger, something we all share as Christians, in spite of differences in how we express our faith,” he explains. 
Seeds were sown in China
The diversity of Christianity first caught his attention during a six-month backpacking adventure along the east coast of China, in the mid-1980s. Encountering a substantial church life in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, young Jørgen’s mindset opened up to the vast diversity in cultural expressions of Christianity. Attending worship services in China had a profound impact on him and ignited a lifelong ecumenical engagement. 
“One day, an elderly lady in a local congregation came up to me and said Shangdi hao, a, meaning ‘God is good,’ which in a nutshell is what we share, regardless of where we come from,” he recalls. 
Unforgettable moments like that, along with his first experience in interfaith dialogue at the renowned Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre in Hong Kong, became decisive for his future commitment to the ecumenical movement. Once back in Denmark, he completed a Master of Philosophy degree in Ecumenical Theology at the University of Aarhus, to which he later added a PhD in Missiology, Ecumenics, and Systematic Theology from the University of Birmingham, UK. Inspired by the expressions of faith in China, his CV also includes courses in Mandarin Chinese. Coincidentally, it was a visit in 1993 at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva, organized by the National Council of Churches in Denmark, that led to Sørensen’s first job in the ecumenical movement. The Danish Missionary Society (now Danmission) needed a mission secretary for Asia and the Middle East—a job for which he applied for and got. Since then, he has held several high-level positions and board assignments in academic institutions and faith-based organizations, where ecumenism has been the common denominator. Eventually, in 2016, he was appointed general secretary of Danmission.

Working-class heritage an asset
Having grown up in a working-class environment in rural Jutland, where “nothing impresses anybody,” as he puts it, Sørensen has a relaxed approach to his own accomplishments.
“Pursuing a higher education was uncommon in my family and I became the first one to make it to high school. And although I was brought up in a home with traditional Christian values, there were no clerical traditions in my family. But hymns were often sung and confirmation class made an impression on me, so somehow, I must have been called by the Holy Spirit,” he explains. 
Deviating from the norm, both by pursuing an education and by his choice of profession, hasn’t always been easy. But although his parents sometimes struggled to understand him, they always supported him wholeheartedly. 
“Nowadays, I see my heritage as an advantage, an asset that I can step in and out of,” he says. 
That ability, to see things through different lenses, has served him well over the years and comes in handy in his new position, where analysing and understanding the needs of churches in different contexts is crucial.

Who we are as Christians
Sørensen’s fascination about cultural differences in expressions of Christianity remains intact. His many encounters with different Christian expressions, particularly in China, India, and other Asian countries, have not only raised new questions, but also made him more aware of who he is as a Christian. 
“Paradoxically, I had to go out into the wider world in order to find my own European Christian identity. But what is then the European expression of Christianity today?” he asks. 
That question is subject to constant contemplation, because Europe has changed, and that raises new questions and poses new challenges.

Enhancing the ecumenical vision 
During his CEC-tenure, Sørensen’s focus has been to maintain a position in society where churches are taken seriously, and to secure a space for dialogue with the highest decision-making bodies in Europe. A concrete example of such dialogue is the Pathways to Peace initiative, which is a coordinated response of the European church fellowship to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Through various events and projects, Pathways to Peace is designed to enhance the ecumenical vision of just peace, facilitating exchange among European churches, and promoting the voices of Ukrainian churches in the ecumenical debate.
In legal terms, an open, transparent, and regular dialogue between European Union (EU) institutions and churches is explicitly mentioned in article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty, which governs the EU. CEC’s main task, according to Sørensen, is to secure future confirmation and development of article 17. 
Another important step in strengthening CECs – and thus the member churches’ – influence during his tenure has been to sharpen its organizational profile towards a more advocacy-oriented Christian fellowship, a fellowship with clear priorities that works together and speaks with common voice. 
“Just as Paul encourages us to do in 1 Corinthians 12, where he uses the human body as a metaphor to show how Christians, each with their individual spiritual gifts, are intended by God to work together,” Sørensen explains. 
At 59, after four very busy and eventful years at CEC headquarters in Brussels, he now embarks on yet another leg of his ecumenical journey. With Copenhagen as a base and his local congregation at heart, he continues his search for a European Christian identity, and exploring new ways to support churches in their daily mission. 
However, in spite of a professional life characterised by vast cultural and geographical changes, one thing is a constant in Sørensen's life journey: a small, wooden crucifix his mother passed on to him from his grandmother when he was young. 
"It keeps me on track,” he concludes.