Save the date for the General Assembly

Lux Mundi Ecumenical Centre will be hosting the General Assembly in Malaga, Spain October 5 – 9 2022.

Dear Members and Friends of Oikosnet Europe!
The Lux Mundi Ecumenical Centre is inviting Oikosnet Europe to hold the Oikosnet General Assembly 2022 in Malaga, Spain. Therefore, on behalf of the Board of Oikosnet Europe and on behalf of the The Lux Mundi Ecumenical Centre we ask you kindly to save the date in your calendar. The General Assembly (GA) is planned to begin with an Opening Worship at 17h30 on October 5, followed by dinner and a welcoming evening. The GA will end with breakfast and departures on Sunday October 9.

Lux Mundi is a non-profit Christian foundation based in Fuengirola and Torre del Mar, where Christians from different denominations meet to promote prayer and reflection – work and help to serve others to overcome the barriers that over the centuries have divided us, and to be visible witnesses to the unity of our faith.

The registration will open June 6 and the Agenda of the business session, and the detailed program for the Study day and excursion, will be distributed closer to the October conference. If you have any issues, projects etc. which you want to discuss at the GA, or if you have any special contribution to make, please let us know.

We look forward to see you all in Malaga in October!

More about the GA 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

Welcome aboard!

Dear members of Oikosnet Europe, dear friends!
After two years we dared to invite again to a General Assembly almost like in old times in Sigtuna, Sweden. The physical reunionwas good and important. Only the Business Session was held in hybrid form for the first time. The Vice-President Kristin Gunleiksrud and the Treasurer Karolína Silná were given a warm farewell from the Board and their commitment was thanked.

In their place, Katerina Karkala from Crete, already a member of the Board, was elected as Vice-President and Kjell Riise from Norway as a new Board member. Welcome aboard! Unfortunately, one seat on the Board remained vacant and thus no Treasurer could be elected. The Assembly gave the Executive Board the mandate to invite a delegate running for the Executive Board as a guest to the Board Meetings already before the next General Assembly. The responsibility of a Treasurer will be taken over by me as President on an interim basis for one year.

Okay, people, let’s move it along!
A significant part of the meeting was dedicated to discussing the three strategic priorities set by the Board: Education, Green Deal and Digitalisation. A strong will was expressed, perhaps unlike in previous years, to follow words with action. Three “theme guardians” were appointed for the three priorities: Rüdiger Noll, Executive Secretary of the Board, for Education, Jörg Hübner, Director Academy Bad Boll, for Green Deal, and Alf Linderman, Director Sigtunastiftelsen, for Digitalisation. A working group has been formed for each of the Green Deal and Education, which will meet online for the first time in the coming weeks. The aim is to develop action plans, involve further experts and design a process to which all members of Oikosnet Europe will be invited again for further participation. I also gratefully mention that for “Education” we already had as a guest at the GA in Sigtuna Bianca Kappelhoff, Educational Researcher of the Comenius Institute Münster: “Protestant responsibility in education in Europe”. Alf Linderman, in turn, will invite Oikosnet members to participate in a special topic on ethical aspects of digitalisation.In the coming period, a compilation of study leaders of our members and their activities will also be compiled that deal with one of the three focal points. In this way it should be possible to network thematically across countries and academies.

Now is the time!
Okay, people, let’s move it along! This slogan is not meant superficially and in the sense of mere activism. It is about commitment and also about the realisation that it is high time for some thorough debates and for concrete action in Europe. And as a pastor, I say: “Now is the kairos. Now is the time!” – Just the week after our General Assembly, the Presidial Assembly of the German Protestant Kirchentag decided on the slogan for the 2023 Kirchentag in Nuremberg: “Now is the time”! Exactly! Now is the time to act, but now is also the time to live and celebrate, and now is also the time to change. Be there!

With best wishes,
Rev. Walter Lüssi, President of Oikosnet Europe

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/

General Assembly 2021 of The European Christian Environmental Network


ECEN 31 May – 1 June

The European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) is an independent network of churches, church-related organization and individuals which works in close relationship with the Conference of European Churches (CEC). It aims at promoting sharing, cooperation, action and theological reflection across different countries and traditions in caring for creation.

ECEN will hold its 2021 Assembly under the theme: “Reconciled with Creation: A Call for urgent Action on Climate and Biodiversity” from 31 May to 1 June. On the agenda will be presentations, panels and discussions on issues such as European Green Deal, climate justice, theological reflections and reflections on the role of the churches. The Assembly, which due to the Corona Pandemic will take the form of a digital webinar, is also an excellent opportunity to network with other like-minded church and non-church organisations.

Invited to participate in the Assembl y are members of ECEN and friends. The full programme as well as the registration form can be found on the ECEN website: ecen.org.

Issues discussed at the ECEN Assembly correspond very much with one of the Oikosnet priorities: the European Green Deal. It would, therefore be most welcome, if many Oikosnet members would participate in the ECEN Assembly.

“systemrelevant“?

Academies during the Covid-19 Crisis

In German-speaking countries „systemrelevant“ is probably the most popular word in political circles during the Covid-19 crisis. It is best translated into English as “relevant for the system” or “indispensable for the system to function”.  Whatever is relevant to the system needs to be kept functioning even during the hardest lockdown. It needs to be sufficiently financed, resourced and supported. But what is with “the rest”? 

And what is meant by “system”? During the 2007-2009 financial and economic crisis, the term was also used. At that time it was clear: “system” meant the financial and prevailing economic system. Some banks were regarded as “too big to fail” and had to be heavily supported by public, tax-payer’s money in order not to get bankrupt. “System” stands for critical infrastructure.

In the Covid-19 pandemic, we discover anew that it is the people in the service-sector which are equally as relevant to the system; people that during the crisis often work beyond their limits and which are thus far not sufficiently honored and usually underpaid in our societies. They cannot  work in homeoffice, while most people are asked to reduce their contacts to a minimum. They keep the infrastructure alive, especially for those effected by the virus and the most vulnerable in our societies. I am thinking of nurses in hospitals or in homes for elderly people, those who provide food, stand at the cashier in the supermarket , teachers, doctors.

It is a difficult balance to strike between fighting the pandemic and keeping the critical infrastructure alive. It is difficult to decide between necessary measurements fighting the pandemic  and in securing the survival of the most vulnerable affected by shutdowns. Should schools and kindergarden be open? How do we secure the survival of restaurants and hairdressers, of people in the cultural and tourist sector?

In this context, it is also discussed whether churches or church-related institutions, as for instance, Christian academies are relevant for the system. For many it is evident that the diaconal work and counselling are indispensable. But what about the churches’ spiritual and educational work? For Wolfgang Huber, the former Chairperson of the Council of the Protestant Churches in Germany, this is not at all the right question. Churches and their institutions are not there to serve the system, their task is to give witness to the liberating message of gospel and thereby responding to the existential questions of humankind.

Therefore, religious freedom is a highly protected good, also in times of a pandemic. Article 9 of the European Human Rights Convention stipulates, the right to exercise one’s religion, alone or together with others, can only be limited by very special circumstances. One of these special circumstances, according to Art 9, is a threat to public health. Again a difficult balance to strike!

In most countries worship services, funerals and individual counselling were permitted, though under strong hygienic rules. And churches and their institutions did abide to the general rule to keep physical distance between people, but they continued to work for social proximity.

Academies offered spiritual events as well as orientation in new and creative forms, in times in which many people feel to be lonely, in stress or in despair. They cared for the people, gave witness and invented new electronic and participatory formats and methodologies in order to keep in touch with people who usually would meet face-to face in conferences. They initiated virtual debates on issues related to the pandemic as well on issues which needed more attention at a time where the pandemic seemed to be the one and only real topic. A key question still is: what will be the future beyond the pandemic. Which are the experience and learning effect during the crisis, to which “the system” needs to be adjusted or changed. In this sense, the Academies are “relevant to the system” and faithful to their calling.

But despite all these efforts, Academies together with the whole of society are looking forward to the time, where encounters and discourses are possible again as real events, where conference halls, dining halls and chapels are filled again with friendly and reflective people from all walks of life. As Martin Buber said: “All real living is meeting”, meeting face-to face, not just in the virtual cloud. Also this is indispensable for human beings.

Rüdiger Noll, Executive Secretary Oikosnet Europe

Oikosnet Europe virtual conference on Education

24 March 2021, 15h00 to 18h00. ( Zoomconference)
Oikosnet Europe invites its members and friends to a Zoomconference on Education. Education is an indispensable prerequisite for all European societies. Without a good education, young people lack skills for their future careers. But education equally promotes habits and responsible citizens. It offers orientation and an important basis for just, participatory and sustainable societies and a just, participatory and sustainable Europe. Therefore, education for skills as well as for responsible citizenship are at the center of programmes by the European Institutions, such as the European Union and the Council of Europe.

In addition, churches offer religious education as a resource for orientation.

What is the role of Christian Academies, which often work at the crossroad between church and society? What is their understanding of education? Debates during the Covid-19 Pandemic made it evident like in a nutshell, that the role of churches and church-related institutions such as Academies is seen different from country to country. Even among Christian academies there are different approaches to education.

Therefore, the Zoomconference on 24 March will offer an opportunity to share among Academies and partners on their respective concepts of education. It will ask as to how Christian Academies and their partners can join forces in order to offer orientation for responsible citizens. It will inform as to how EU and Council of Europe programmes can be useful as well as a challenge for Christian Academies.

The Zoomconference will be organized in plenaries and smaller workshops. It will be conducted in English. Its results will be considered by the Board and at future General Assemblies of Oikosnet Europe for further action.

Individual invitations and Registration Forms will be issued soon. If you are interested to participate, you may want to contact the Oikosnet office already now: office@oikosnet.eu

Oikosnet Europe General Assembly

The Sigtuna Foundation , Sweden 6 – 10 October

The General Assembly will this year take place at the Sigtuna Foundation in Sweden. Sigtuna is a very small and picturesque city just north of Stockholm and only 17 minutes by car from the Stockholm Arlanda International Airport. As you know, the Sigtuna Foundation is also the home of the office of our association. We really look forward to welcome all of you to our beautiful academy and to the Oikosnet Europe Office!

The theme of this year’s conference will be Digitalization. We will however primarily deal with digitalization as a humanistic and existential issue – not so much a technical one. Digital communication has altered the social context in which human beings develop their understanding of themselves. It has altered the context for the development of identity and the structures for human interaction. Digital “places” and “groups” become significant “spaces and arenas” where human life today is lived, and this has various implications on all social levels. What does all this mean for us as individuals, and what does it mean for our academies and the work that we engage in? Such broad questions will be the focus of the Study Day.

Arab Europe Citizen´s Dialogue – October 2021

The Arab-Europe Citizens’ Dialogue on religion and society was initiated owing to a conference at the Orthodox Academy of Crete in 2010. Last year, we were planning to celebrate the centennial at the same beautiful place. This however was not possible due to corona-related restrictions, and we rescheduled for the spring of this year. Some time ago, we realized that the ongoing pandemic made also this impossible.

Now, we are planning for having the next dialogue symposium at the Orthodox Academy of Crete in October this year, in the week beginning with Oct. 25. Given the present emphasis on vaccinations, we sincerely hope that this will be possible. Make a note on this in your calendar, and we will then come back with more information later in the spring.

Re-discovering diversity in Europe: Housing, Identities and Believes.”

Project idea: Agape Centro Ecumenico Summer 2021

The Agape Centro Ecumenico in Italy are happy to invite the Academies of Oikosnet Europe to their new Erasmus plus Project Proposal. Deadlines are not out yet, so take your time to read through and get in touch if you are interested or if you have any questions or proposals!

“Re-discovering diversity in Europe: Housing, Identities and Believes”
We live in complex communities and common places, houses where we have to find the best strategies for shared living and co-existence, where we want to feel free to express and experiment who we are and where we want and need to find the space to meet the spiritual dimension of life. The three elements of economy, gender and spirituality are strictly correlated and create a path of reflection, self- discovery, discussion and debate. This is a chance of growth and learning on how to live with awareness in a responsible and respectful way through various kind of activities.

We are currently finalising a KA1 project draft proposing a Training for Youth Workers to boost European encounters during this challenging time and to disseminate the outcomes within the participating organisations in order to start a virtuous process leading to more activities and joint projects in the next years. Project partners are European Networks that involve a wide range of participants from many different backgrounds and contexts.

LOGISTIC ASPECTS (TBC):

Activity: Training for Youth Workers
Date: 30/07 – 14/08 2021
Venue: Agape Centro Ecumenico, Prali, Italy.

PARTNERS: WSCF Europe, Phiren Amenca, Oikosnet, Dare Network.

PARTICIPANTS: People of all ages are welcome, possibly Youth Workers or people  interested in reporting the contents and activities of the project to groups of young people within the sending organisation. The number of participants will be 25/30. Participants can come from any country in Europe.

PARTNER’S TASKS:

  • Every partner involves 5/6 participants. It is useful to know, if possible, from which countries they are more likely to come from, in order to indicate these countries in the project form.
  • Select some participants that could/should be involved in taking an active part in the organization of the programme by:
    – organising training activities to provide tools and methods to report one or more of the topic of the project to young people
    – getting involved in the general practical organisation of the whole program (welcoming activities, daily evaluation, evenings, ice-breaking games) together with other 3 or 4 people from Agape Centro Ecumenico that will compose the Hosting Committee for the Training.
    – getting involved in the planning of the activities referring to one of the 3 specific topics (spiritual/theological, economies of care or gender), which would mean be part of a staff group with other 3 people from Agape Centro Ecumenico.
    Contact: Sara Marta Rostagno vicedirezione@agapecentroecumenico.org