Nurturing Hope

A Corrymeela summer school 15 – 22 July

Rooted in the Northern Irish reconciliation experience of Corrymeela since 1965, four Corrymeela members have developed an extensive and practical reflective learning resource, “Nurturing Hope”.   In July you have the possibility to take part of their summer school.

Each day participants will work in groups exploring the different approaches and themes within the new Nurturing Hope Materials. Developed from 50 years plus reconciliation practice in Northern Ireland, Korea and North America Summer School participants will explore how:

Together, a ‘more reasoned public voice’ might be built through offering people opportunities to reflect on the reasons they have for acting in various ways and support them reassert their choices or make new ones together. Participants will enhance their facilitation skills in developing group and organisational programmes of encounter that Nurture Hope.


Rooted in the Northern Irish reconciliation experience of Corrymeela since 1965, four Corrymeela members have developed an extensive and practical reflective learning resource, “Nurturing Hope”.

Keynote Contributions:

In addition to the presence of the four authors of Nurturing Hope and some learning partners/ practitioners from the USA and Korea we have as speakers:

Professor Josefina Alvarez, of the Kroc Institute and a lead monitor on the Columbian Peace Process

Baroness May Blood, a cross bench peer in the House of Lords, the Chair of the Integrated Education Fund and a founder member of the NI Women’s Coalition.

Professor Monica McWilliams, a former Human Rights Commissioner, a signatory to the Good Friday Agreement 1998, and a founder member of the Women’s Coalition.

Ade Solanke, a leading British Nigerian Playwright and former Fulbright scholar at Columbia who is now preparing a play on Phylis Wheatley for Boston. Phillis Wheatley was the first African American and second woman (after Anne Bradstreet) to publish a book of poems.

JC Clapsaddle, is a retired United States Air Force Colonel. He served in various positions including a post at the US Embassy in Iraq as a liaison to the Iraqi Government. He was a National Defense Fellow to the US Senate advising on nuclear and defence policy.

More about Nurturing Hope

In memory of Jaap van der Sar

It is with great sadness that we had to say goodbye to our former President, Treasurer and Board Member Jaap van der Sar who passed away after long illness on March 11 at home in Wageningen/The Netherlands. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Tineke and his family and friends.

Jaap was not only an inspirator and driving force of our association, he was for many years the heart and center of it, leading, supporting, enabling our work, enveloping us in his friendship, challenging us when necessary, even preparing us very carefully personally and the association structurally for his passing away. Especially the “Dialogue for a Peaceful Change” was close to his heart. Together with others he developed the project and brought together thousands of participants and trainers from all over the world for trainings in non-violent conflict management.  

We lost  a great friend and a great enabler. RIP.

Jaap van der Sar ( 1952 – 2022 )

Finally together again!

The General Assembly of Oikosnet Europe in Sigtuna Sweden was no doubt affected by the travelling restrictions caused by Covid-19. But nevertheless we had a representation from 11 members on site and four members taking part in the business session digitally. Some additional members were represented by proxy.

It was such a joy to finally see one another again. Work together, learn together, share ideas and simply spend time together in person. 

Digitalization as a humanistic and existential issue 

The theme of the study day this year was Digitalization as a humanistic and existential issue. Speakers on this topic was Lisbeth Gustafsson, journalist and Dr. Honoris Causa in Theology, Amanda Lagerqvist, Professor Media and Communication and Mia Lövheim, Professor Sociology of Religion. Their academic perspectives gave a valuable insight to this field of research and their reflections also fueled a discussion on how digital life affect us, both as individuals and the work that we are engaged in at our academies.

Excursion day in the first town in Sweden

The excursion day is something one always look forward to at the General Assembly. As the venue this year was Sigtuna, Swedens first town, we had the opportunity to explore the Christian roots of Sweden on site. As Karin Sallander at the office of Oikosnet Europe in Sigtuna also has a background as archeologist we were given a guided tour of old town Sigtuna including runic stones, a visit to the local museum and the old Monastery church of St Marys. 

Keep building relations and hang in there…

On the last day of the conference, the General Assembly had Jonas Jonsson, bishop emeritus in the Church of Sweden and former assistant General Secretary at the World Council of Churches, as our special guest. Jonas Jonsson shared some memories from his lifelong experience of ecumenical work. Some words that probably stayed with many of us was “keep building relations and hang in there”. With that said we hope that we will be able to gather again at the General assembly of 2022!

Sofia af Geijerstam, Sigtunastiftelsen

Kjell Riise new member of the board

Kjell Riise, representing the Norweigian Church Academies, was elected as a new member of the board at the General Assembly of Oikosnet Europe. Kjell is a parish priest in the cathedral of Tromsø in Norway and also a board member of the Norwegian Church Academies. 

3rd Ecumenical Kircchentag „schaut hin“

Frankfurt am Main May 13 -16

The motto „schaut hin“ (take a look) (Mark 6:38) is at the centre of the 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag. In terms of content, it is the common thread running through the programme of the major digital event in Frankfurt am Main.

The 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag will be digital and decentralised. The programme will thus be focussed, but as usual a colourful mix of topics, culture and spiritual content. The Ecumenical Kirchentag offers some events with English subtitles or in English for the international friends. See: https://www.oekt.de/en/

Education as an Issue for Oikosnet Europe

Education emerged as one of the three priority issues for Oikosnet Europe after a poll among Oikosnet members. As a start of a longer process, Oikosnet Europe organized a first Zoomconference  on 24 March 2021. About 40 participants from many European, from Armenia to Spain, from Norway to Greece discussed different understandings of education. We are grateful for partners such as the Comeniusinstitute in Münster/Germany and the Strasbourg office of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), who stimulated the discussion through their presentations. The meeting also learnt about CONTOC (contoc.org) a research project on digital practices in the Protestant and Catholic churches in Germany, Switzerland, further European countries during Corona times.

The results of the meeting listing different understandings of education as well as different challenges for Christian Academies will be issued soon for further discussion in the Oikosnet Board and its General Assembly.

The Zoomconference in May was meant as a starting point for further discussion among Oikosnet members and friends about which sectors of education need further promotion and support on a European level and what understanding of education helps Christian Academies to even improve their efforts.

Long awaited – Now to get started:

The EU Conference on the Future of Europe

By Rüdiger Noll, Executive Secretary Oikosnet Europe

On 10 March, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Europe signed a Joint Declaration on the parameters for the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), which is to be launched on Europe Day in Strasbourg (9 May).

What sounds like yet another conference, is indeed a one year process, in which the citizens and the people of Europe are to have their say on issues such as health, climate change, an economy for the people, social fairness, intergenerational solidarity, digitalization, European rights and values, migration, security, the EU in the world, strengthening democracy. These are just the topics selected by the European Institutions, on which they want the opinion of the people and of civil society. Other topics can be added.

“Today marks a new start for the European Union and for all European citizens”, the President of the European Union, David Sassoli, said, when the Joint Declaration was signed. “The Conference on the Future of Europe will be unique opportunity for all European citizens and our civil society to shape Europe’s future, a common project for a functioning European democracy.” Now, whether the CoFoE will be indeed such a participatory process and such a genuine voice of the people, and whether it will finally impact European policy, remains to be seen. It depends on how people can be activated and motivated to participate and on which methodologies are used. In any case, until spring 2022 many countries and regions will see a multitude of events, which are to contribute from a people’s perspective as to how the European Union is to be shaped in the future. What are the priority issues and how are they to be addressed?

Oikosnet Europe has a long-standing  commitment to observe Europe as its framework for reflection and action and to contribute to a vivid civil society and making the people’s voice heard in church and society. Just recently, Oikosnet Europe selected three priority issues for the near future: the “Green Deal”, digitalisation and education. The EU Conference on the Future of Europe is certainly one vehicle of making our voice heard to network with other civil society organisations. Therefore, Oikosnet Europe and its members should participate very actively in the process.

It will be the task of the Oikosnet Board and its General Assembly to inform its members on the different stages of the development and to pave the way for an easy access for Oikosnet members. There are many possibilities for members to get involved, e.g. to participate in national, regional and local events, to organize own events, to put resources together in order organize transnational events, to offer truly participatory methodologies …

The Oikosnet Board will have the CoFoE on the agenda of its next meeting in June. It  will inform members and friends afterwards about the next steps. In the meantime, we would appreciate any information on national and regional events and about the involvement of Oikosnet members in the process. Please send your information to the Oikosnet Executive Secretary:  rudiger@rudigernoll.eu.

Further information about the CoFoE you will find on the respective EU websites. The Conference of European Churches, of which Oikosnet Europe is an organization in partnership, has also launched its own process. As start, it has issued a fact sheet, which can be found here.

We shall see us in Sigtuna!

Dear members of Oikosnet Europe, dear friends!

As I write this editorial, I have just had my first appointment for the Covid19 vaccination. In Switzerland, it is now the turn of people over 65 (and sometimes age does have its advantages). I sincerely hope that we in Europe will soon succeed in allowing more freedoms, restoring proven fundamental rights and allowing cultural and social life again with manageable restrictions. I hope and am convinced that we will – finally – succeed in this in the coming months!

We shall see us in Sigtuna! In October. We will gather there for this year’s General Assembly. I am convinced of it. You will find more information in this newsletter and also how to register. Please do not hesitate. We shall see us in Sigtuna – and if it is still not possible then, we will inform again.

And before that, there are opportunities to meet us in different places and on important issues and debates. This newsletter also informs about such virtual opportunities and thus invites us not to lose sight of the bigger picture, what must occupy us in Europe and what we can only bear together in terms of responsibility in our time.

We will certainly see each other in Sigtuna. Until then, weeks and months will pass. In some places, hard work is called for, it is also necessary to fight against despair, impatience and existential fears. Perhaps there will still be a little time for other, very personal things, and hopefully always for a change of perspective, as the Swiss theologian and writer Jacqueline Keune has captured in a poem:

Cancelled

Haydn, Mozart and Schubert

conducted by Marek Janowski

Not canceled

the cello on the 3rd floor

the song of the blackbird

Cancelled

the reading of the literary man

Not canceled

the reading

of the evening poem

story for children

Cancelled

the meeting for the 40th anniversary

of the assassination of Bishop Oscar Romero

Not canceled

the memory

the resistance

Cancelled

the dream of the Maldives

Not canceled

the dreaming of

the new earth

the new heaven

Cancelled

the worship

Not canceled

the whispering

with God

Cancelled

the bouquet of flowers

on the kitchen table

Not canceled

the blossoming and bursting

the germination and budding

Canceled

the wedding

Not canceled

the love

Cancelled

abdication

Not canceled

Resurrection

Once again: Please, don’t forget: We shall see us in Sigtuna!

Best wishes,

Rev. Walter Lüssi, President of Oikosnet Europe

Glimpses from the Annual Conference in Agape

In September, many of or members had some most enjoyable days at the Agape Centro Ecumenico in Italy. Our hosts, Malte Dahme and Sara Marta Rostagno had prepared an excellent program on the theme Identities moving landscapes: an historical view from the Alps where the Waldensian valley and it´s history became an inspiring resource for reflection on the question of migration in general.

Welcoming of new members
During the Business Meeting we had the pleasure of welcoming a new member of Oikosnet Europe, The The Orthodox Grodno Laity Center in Belarus. We all look forward to hear more about their centre and their work in the future.
Jörg Hübner, director at the Academy of Bad Boll, Germany, was elected as a new member of the board. Many of you have probably met him at earlier Annual conferences and you will definetely have the possibility to make the acquaintance at the Annual Conference next year, as it will take place at Bad Boll.

Ideas become projects
One of the most aprreciated part of the Annual Conferences are the exchange of ideas. On the last day of the conference Malte Dahme facilitated a most fruitful workshop where members could partner up around common projects. It was very inspiring to see how many ideas became more concrete during the session and the board are already working on how to develop them further.
A more detailed information from the Business meeting is presented in the minutes and we yet again want to thank Sara Marta Rostagno and Malte Dahme and all their staff for their wonderful hospitality.

Minutes from the Business Meeting

Oikosnet Europe present at the EAD Member Assembly

The president of Oikosnet Europe Walter Lüssi attended to EAD Member Assembly earlier this year. At the meeting he gave a presentation of the work of Oikosnet Europe with an emphasis on the relevance of the European Dimension and the significance of civil society. The EAD have the tradition of inviting the president of Oikosnet Europe to their yearly Member Assembly. The meeting this year took place in Baden.