The Conference of European Churches believes that the example of Nelson Mandela, who was buried in his home area yesterday, can encourage people of goodwill across Europe to work for change.
"Nelson Mandela inspired all people with his selfless generosity, humanity, sacrifice, leadership and wisdom," said the Rev Dr Guy Liagre, CEC General Secretary, in a recent statement of condolence.
European churches which supported South Africa's oppressed minority during the sad days of apartheid were overjoyed when Nelson Mandela was released from prison on 11 February 1990 in the first step of reconciliation and justice in his country.
When he was South Africa's president, Mandela addressed the 8th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1998.
There he praised churches' efforts against apartheid in South Africa, as well as missionaries for bringing high standards of education to Africa from which Mandela said he benefited as a child.
Mandela had said, "You have to have been in an apartheid prison in South Africa to appreciate the further importance of the Church."
"European churches thank God that that their efforts against the apartheid regime played some part in ending its vile racism. More importantly they are grateful for his inspiration and example in reconciliation and the healing of divisions that can be applied in present day Europe," said Liagre.
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a communion of 115 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all European countries, and 40 organisations in partnership. It was founded in 1959 and the CEC has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.
* CEC: http://www.ceceurope.org/