Fear and its Antidotes

Invitation to Oikosnet`s Next Annual Conference in Corrymeela

In his latest book about Europe (Europe-An Unfinished Adventure (2004), Europa – Ein unvollendetes Abenteuer (2015)) the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Baumann identifies fear, justified or artificially produced, as a driving force in worldwide politics as well as in our societies. He speaks, inter alia, of the fear of terrorist attacks, the fear to loose one´s job, the fear of being excluded, the fear of fighting new threats with old methodologies and old equipment.

But it did not need the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 to make fear become the new paradigm. Baumann sees the Mid-70ies of the last century as a turning point when neoliberal economics became dominant and social-welfare states were dismantled. When the institutions, which supported families, societies as well as the state to cope with fears and insecurities, were sidelined, fear determined increasingly many relationships with others, new enemy pictures were established and fear became a resource in the hands of the economically powerful.
Instead of a “war against terror” as a false and dangerous antidote, Baumann advocates for hospital and inclusive societies based on democracy (participation) and justice.

The next Annual Conference in Corrymeela

Fear (“Fear and Remembering in the 21st Century”) is also the main theme of the next Annual Conference of Oikosnet Europe in Corrymeela (Northern Ireland), 9-13 September 2015, to which you are cordially invited. The Corrymeela Community and Center has a lot of hands-on experience in non-violent conflict mediation in Northern Ireland as well as in worldwide conflict situations. And it also serves as a renown center for reflecting on those experiences. Through a study day, an excursion, worship life and encounters during the Annual Conference, we want to profit from this experience and expertise at a moment when Corrymeela celebrates its 50th anniversary.

In addition, many crucial items are on the business agenda of the Annual Conference in order to increase the interaction among Oikosnet members and to engage in common projects and initiatives.
For the invitation letter and your registration for the Annual Conference click here.

Care – theme for the Gender and Justice Network

“Care”, is the theme for the Gender and Justice Network of Oikosnet Europe, meeting just prior to the Annual Conference in Corrymeela. Care, in the sense of caring for each other, is certainly one of the antidotes providing hospital and inclusive societies.
For the programme of the Gender and Justice Network click here.

In order to participate tick the respective box in the online registration for the Annual Conference. The Gender and Justice Network, though looking on issues from a gender perspective, invites women and men alike.

“Dialogue for A Peaceful Change
And finally, making the best use of resources at Corrymeela, Oikosnet Europe and the Corrymeela Center invite together for a DPC-Training in Corrymeela from 5 to 9 September. “DPC” stands for
“Dialogue for A Peaceful Change” and is a methodology for non-violent conflict mediation, which was developed by Oikosnet members, including Corrymeela.
For the DPC invitation and your registration click here
Looking forward to welcoming many of you in Corrymeela in September, the President and the Board of Oikosnet Europe send you their cordial greetings!

Rüdiger Noll


Make a world of difference at Corrymeela

CorrymeelaCan you imagine working for a society whose priorities are justice, mutual respect, the participation of all, concern for the vulnerable and the stranger, stewardship of resources, and care for Creation?

Can you imagine living in one community with people from Northern Ireland, Kenya, the States, the Republic of Ireland, Colombia, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Pakistan, and El Salvador?

Can you imagine offering hospitality to thousands of people by cleaning, cooking, leading activities and listening to stories?

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at our 50-year-old peace and reconciliation centre in Northern Ireland, please visit our website  www.corrymeela.org or contact Aileen aileenfarrell@corrymeela.org and Emily emilygraber@corrymeela.org  for further details.

Reunion for Corrymeela volunteers

Making a World of Difference –  the Gathering

The gathering

We would like to get in touch with everyone who has contributed their time and energy to sustain Corrymeela over the last fifty years. If you have been a Corrymeela volunteer of any kind (long term, short term, kitchen, summer, work camp, housekeeping, reception, etc), please fill out this form and let us know where you are, what you’re up to and whether you’d like information about our celebration and gathering of former Corrymeela volunteers, 3rd -7th April 2015.

The event will be full of endless cups of tea and coffee, walks down memory lane and around the site, reflections on where life has taken you and Corrymeela, and an Easter service led by Pádraig ÓTuama, new Community Leader. We’d like as many people as possible to attend who represent a wide range of years and tasks. In light of this, it will be a ‘pay as you please’ event, meaning that donations will be warmly welcomed but not mandatory.

If you aren’t able to come, don’t worry! There will be opportunities to participate from afar. 2015 is the year we will build the Corrymeela diaspora into a vibrant community.



Globethics.net  – A Resource and a Partner for Oikosnet Members

GlobalethicsIf you are planning a conference or a project on an ethical issue and you want to get input and insights from various parts of the world, if you are looking for partners and experts from different regions of the world, or if you even want to join research projects or thematic networks, then the Globethics Network  www.globethics.net could be the right resource and network to connect with. Globethics.net is a global network of persons and institutions interested in various fields of applied ethics. It offers access to a large number of resources on ethics, especially through its leading global digital ethics library and facilitates collaborative web-based research, conferences, online publishing and information sharing.

The center piece of Globethics.net, founded in 2008 by Christoph Stückelberger in Switzerland, is its research library which includes by now 1.497,964 full articles, books and journals reflecting on ethical issues. The library can be searched under various categories and key words. In addition, Globethics offers access to research consortia and networks on a number of issues.

And it also works the other way round: registered participants could also post their articles and reflections and facilitate the establishment of a network. Registration is free of charge!

Under its motto “Dialogue, Reflection and Action for a Responsible Leadership” the very international Board and staff of Globalethics want to promote especially equal access to ethical discourses for interested people and researchers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. But Europeans, for instance, do profit by the same token.

The Globethics headquarters based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva facilitates a huge network on ethical issues from all over the world. At present, it centers its own activities around issues such as business and economic issues, interreligious ethics, responsible leadership. Registered participants profit to a high degree from its services and networks.

Wait a minute ……!

Jaap-van-der-SarViolence as a means – is that allowed? This is not just a question which  can easily be raised to for example Christians, westerners, Muslims, atheists, jihadists only.  Most of the time the evil sides of humanity seems to characterise more ‘others’ than ourselves, our friends. Yet the good arguments for this approach are easy to find: the attack on Charlie Hebdo was not done by us but by fanatic followers of what we consider the false Islam. The same applies to Boko Haram, to IS, to fundamentalists, to people who are different from us.

‘Charlie Hebdo’ as the expression of evil thoughts and deeds doesn’t characterise us. And we condemn it forcefully, as I have seen in many statements from many organisations which are on the correct side of the spectrum. And I heard it in many interviews. Let me be clear: it is awful what has happened in Paris, what has happened in the North-East of Nigeria, what is happening in Syria. We have to fight this as clear and dedicated as possible.

And yet – I also have some feelings of unease, of ‘jumping to a conclusion’. The first information about the attacks in Paris were to a high degree factual. After that, in the second wave, theories and assumptions started to arise – especially about the motives of the attackers. Quite some of them were true – generalisations were not. The third line of article’s, of comments dealt more and more with backgrounds. Much has to be said about that, for instance regarding the role of religion, the role of socio-economic situation, of education. And also about the limitations of values. What is the scope of the freedom of expression? Like any value, also  this value can compete with other values, like respect for the integrity of a person. How to make judgements in such situations?  The philosopher Avashai Margalit defined two concepts in his book ‘The Decent Society”(1996). He defines a ‘decent society’ as ‘one whose institutions do not humiliate people’. In addition to that he defines a ‘civilised society’ as ‘one whose members do not humiliate one another’. These two concepts are real challenges, especially when we want them to be realised. Not just ‘for them’ nor just ‘by them’. Also in the conflict, as was expressed in Paris, we can distinguish a huge group of indirect involved people. Like ourselves. And by determining this, we are at stake too, in our role within this conflict.

Therefore it takes more than a minute. It takes more than a minute for me as a person. It takes more than a minute for us as members of Oikosnet Europe to actively deal with the questions, arising from the first week of January 2015. It is our task, sometimes included in our profession, to support the open exchange of thoughts and underlying values. This can bring us to both a decent and a civilised society. Challenges enough.

Jaap van der Sar
President Oikosnet Europe

Welcome to Corrymeela

The Cross and the View‘Corrymeela is an ecumenical community of people committed to reconciliation and peace-building through the healing of social, religious and political divisions.’ (Corrymeela strategy 2013-2015)
Corrymeela is an inclusive Christian Community founded in 1965 by Reverend Ray Davey, assisted by a group of students from Queen’s University Belfast. The seeds for the Community grew from Ray’s experience as a prisoner of war during World War II. This, coupled with his witnessing of the Allied bombing of Dresden and its consequent loss of life, made an indelible impression on him.
Twenty years after the war Ray established a residential centre in Ballycastle where people of all faiths and backgrounds could come together and learn to live in community.
Now, Corrymeela hosts over 10,000 people a year in programmes of dialogue, learning, faith and encounter.
2015 is Corrymeela’s 50th year and we are honoured to host the 60th OIKOSNET Conference here in Northern Ireland. We would be delighted to welcome you.
Please put the 9th – 13th of September 2015 in your diary.
We look forward to the learning, the challenges and the fellowship. See you next year.

„Seed Money“ for Oikosnet Projects


By Rüdiger Noll
At its meeting in Corrymeela (November 2014) the Board was for the first time challenged to deal with an application for supporting a project under the newly established “Criteria for Supporting Projects of Oikosnet Members by Oikosnet Europe”, which were adopted at the Annual Conference in Villigst. EPIL, the European Project for Interreligious Learning, in which two Oikosnet members are involved and for which one member launched the application, asked for financial support for a training course in Turkey in 2016.

seed moneyThe Board took ample time to review the application under each of the criteria in Villigst and finally decided to go back with a number of questions to the applicant before finally deciding. This was possible and reasonable as the project is meant to be implemented only in the second but next year. In as much as the process was about screening a project, it was also a learning experience for the Board itself as to how to handle applications for financial support. The challenge is, on the one hand, to apply the criteria which Oikosnet Europe set itself and, on the other hand, to make the application process not too formal and too demanding.

The next Board meeting will take place on 28/29 March 2015, where project applications will be reviewed again. Applications should reach the Executive Secretary (noll@evangelische-akademien.de) well in advance, latest by 20 March 2015.

4th Arab-European Citizens´ Dialogue

ruediger_noll1By Rüdiger Noll

About 40 people from various arab and european countries as well as several guests and speakers participated in the 4th consultation of the Citizens´ Dialogue, which took place in Brussels 16 to 20 November 2014.

As the 3rd dialogue meeting in Cairo earlier this year heavily criticized the “More for More, Less for Less” – Policy (meaning: more aid and support in return for more democracy, the implementation of human rights and the rule of law in Arab countries as well as of other “European” values) of the European Union, the 4th dialogue meeting was deliberately hosted in Brussels in order to discuss with representatives of the European Union Institutions and with Brussels-based NGOs. Elmar Brok, Chairperson of the European Parliament´s External Relations Committee, defended the More for More and Less for Less Policy, which led to a discussion about the contextualization of commonly held values and a patronizing attitude of the European Institutions.

The Dialogue Meeting also met with officials from the EU Directorate for Foreign Aid (Neighbourhood Policy) and NGOs which are engaged in contributing to a European foreign and development policy. “This meeting came at the rights time,” officials said, “as the EU is in the process of re-defining its neighbourhood policy.” Participants were encouraged to make their voice heard in this process.

Altogether, however, the European Institutions showed themselves much less receptive to the invitation of the citizens´ dialogue than hoped. That might also be due to the fact that the new European Commission took office just prior to the dialogue meeting and many civil servants found themselves in the process of changing offices and responsibilities.

The more time Arab and European participants had to discuss among themselves. Quite some “elephants in the room”, big issues which require further investment and mutual understanding were identified. These issues include: How to deal with the Israel-Palestine conflict? How to deal with radical (terrorist) groups that use violence in the name of religion? How to define European support for the Arab region versus intervention? How to dialogue on an equal footing?

At the edge of the meeting, the organisers also caucused about the future organization of the Dialogue. Three European Academies (members of Oikosnet) together with the Oikosnet Executive Secretary are testing the possibility of taking the lead in the process from the European side. Equally, CEOSS, the anchor organization from the Arab side is exploring a broader leadership from their side. The next step will be a joint workshop with all potential anchor organisations in spring 2015, in which further steps in the process will be planned.


Walter Lussi leaves as our treasurer!

Walter lüssiThe treasurer has gone – long live the treasurer. That is how it goes and should go. So since Walter Lussi has left the Board in September, we have had elections and we elected Kostas Zorpas from the Orthodox Academy of Crete. The work continues and that is good!

At the Annual Conference it was impossible to have a farewell moment with Walter since he was too much in the ‘recovery-mode’ after a heavy car accident in August. So Walter participated also in a part of the Board meeting in Corrymeela at the end of November. There we had the opportunity to meet him again and to thank him for the work he has done for us.

That was a lot! He entered the Board in 2010. From that year on, it became more and more clear that a restructuring of the work was required, especially for financial reasons. In April 2012 the decision was taken that we had to end the labour contract with our former General Secretary, Wolfgang Lenz. After that the restructuring continued. We had to develop new ways to work as an association. As we did and do.

All these years Walter has been a rather quiet and very dedicated treasurer. And more: a person you could fully rely on when things got hot. When there was a need to be present and clear, he was present and clear. And beyond these moments he was and is a pleasant person, not heavily looking for serious matters of life but always looking for a fruitful combination of dedication and joy. Be it in language, be it in going for a coffee or another drink – I felt it a pleasure and a blessing to work with such a person in the Board. The deep understanding of being dependant on others in many aspects of our work is a characteristic which is nurtured by Walter. It attracts people to his style and attitude.

That is what is also required in his new job, which formally starts in January next year but already has started for more than 90%: ‘Kirchenratsschreiber’ of the Reformed Church of Zurich, in English something like a chancellor. In a company it would be the CEO. This is challenging, also since budget cuts are on the agenda. It seems to a certain extend that Walter goes where the challenges are.

From our side we said ‘thank you and farewell’ to Walter in Corrymeela. He has done a lot for us with a high quality in a difficult situation. And we hope to meet him on some occasions in the future, for instance at an Annual Conference. And even when that will not happen, we will not forget him!

Jaap van der Sar

President of Oikosnet Europe


DPC training in Corrymeela before the next Annual Conference starts

Tensions between people, within groups and organisations – they are a normal part of life. Most of the time we deal with them rather well on a day to day basis. Sometimes however, things get more complicated. What to do? What to avoid? How to make tensions and conflicts effective.
This type of challenges are a perfect reason to participate in the upcoming DPC-training, just before the next Annual Conference starts. Going there becomes even more attractive and effective.

Dialogue for Peaceful Change (DPC): it was on the agenda of Oikosnet Europe for years. We talked about it. Now there is a good opportunity to follow the five-day training yourself. In No. Ireland, where roots of the training can be found. Arrival day Friday 4 September, training from Saturday 5 – Wednesday 9 September, 16.30 hrs, just before the Annual Conference starts. More information will follow.

Shona Bell, Jaap van der Sar, DPC trainers

The Cross and the View