Receptive Ecumenism

The Sigtuna Foundation, Sweden 22 -25 June 2020 – Save the date!

As a member of Oikosnet Europe, we encourage you to save the date for the upcoming conference Receptive Ecumenism in Sigtuna 2020. This conference will be the fifth academic conference following those held in England (2006 and 2009), in the United States (2014) and in Australia (2017).

A third way ecumenism
Those earlier conferences introduced the basic idea of receptive ecumenism, firstly within the Catholic tradition and then more broadly across a wide range of Christian traditions.
Receptive Ecumenism is a fresh ecumenical methodology emphasizing receptivity, learning, and listening. Since its inception, the concept has taken root in many diverse contexts around the globe. It is described as a third way ecumenism focusing on conversion and renewal in the search for unity among the Churches. This conference will continue the ecclesiological reparative, criticalconstructive task of ecumenical ecclesiology.

Invited speakers
Cardinal Anders Arborelius OCD, Catholic diocese of Stockholm, Sweden
Rev Dr Sofia Camnerin, Stockholm School of Theology, Sweden
Rev Dr Mathew Chandrankunnel, CMI, Ecumenical Christian Center, Bangalore, India
Rev Anthony Currer, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Rome
Rev Dr Susan Durber, United Reformed Church UK, Faith and Order Commission, WCC
Dr Sara Gehlin, Helsinki University, Finland
Rev Peter Halldorf, The Pentecostal Alliance of Independent Churches, Sweden
Most Rev Dr Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
Rt Rev Dr Karin Johannesson, Bishop of the Diocese of Uppsala, Church of Sweden
Prof Paul D. Murray, Durham University, UK
Prof Ivana Noble, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Ms Aikaterini Pekridou, Executive Secretary for Theological Dialogue, CEC
Dr Antonia Pizzey, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane
Prof Cecil M Robeck Jr, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, USA
Prof Risto Saarinen, Helsinki University, Finland

Call for papers
Call for papers will be sent out during the first quarter of 2019.
More information will be distributed later. In the meantime, please contact Olle Kristenson. Director for Ecumenical Theology at the Christian Council of Sweden:

Summer school in Agape

Every summer, the Oikosnet member organisation Agape Centro Ecumenico organize threee international summer camps. They are run in four languages (italian english french spanish) an interpretation and translation are provided. Agape Centro Ecumenico  is an ecumenical centre situated in a mountain area in Northern Italy, a place of encounter and community life. The Centre was built after the Second World War, as a sign of reconciliation among people, it is an important point of reference in Italian Protestantism, but the aim is to fully encounter the different perspectives of faith. It is a place of education and development, theological exploration, political engagement, of acceptance and validation of differences.

Scholarship programme
With the scholarship programme Agape offers a Summer School to encourage people coming from around the world to participate to our International Camps. This scholarships can cover food and accommodation but also travel expenses. The application for the summer school in Agape will be open until April 30.

More information

Welcome to the Oikosnet Annual Conference 2019

Agape Italy 11 to 15 September 2019
On behalf of the Board of Oikosnet Europe and on behalf of Agape Centro Ecemenico in Italy, it is our pleasure to invite you to the next Annual Conference (AC) of Oikosnet Europe (OE).
The AC is scheduled to take place from 11 – 15 September 2019 in the beautiful settings of Torino in Northern Italy. 
“We are looking forward to an exciting Annual Conference,” Walter Lüssi, President of Oikosnet Europe states. “Agape is an exciting learning space. People, especially young people, hardly come back from there unchanged and with new ecumenical inspiration. In 2019, as Oikosnet Europe, we also want to be inspired by the special flair of the place and by the experience of the Agape Center in community building.”

Identities on moving landscapes: an historical view from the Alps
The theme of the 2019 Annual Conference has be chosen accordingly. It deals with identities in a changing world, characterised by migration. The Directors and staff of the Agape Center send their cordial invitation and write: “Waldensian communities are migrating communities – by means of survival, by force and, after civil rights were granted to religious minorities in 1848, by choice. Moving slowly from a clandestine movement, to a Church in a ghetto and ultimately to freedom has brought a change from a closed community to a Church open to everyone. How can identities forged by forced migration change with freedom? Is a crisis needed to form new identities? In the recent migration movements we can see similar processes of forming and changing identities. We will analyse these processes in the light of accessibility and community back then and today, we will give an insight to the political contexts in Italy and it’s position in Europe and we will discover what answers Protestant Churches in Italy and the Italian Civil Society have found to the identitarian challenges of today. ”

Registration and how to get there
Agape lies within the Waldensian Valley in the north of Italy. The closest airport is Turino. And from there it takes some time to drive. For the Oikosnet Annual Conference, Turino will be the starting point of shuttles to Agape. Participants should arrive well before 18h00 on 11 September. More detailed information will be provided to registered participants. For more information on the Agape Center check: 
The registration for the conference is open until August 21. We look forward to see you all there!

More information about the conference

Registration for the OE Annual Conference

Consultation on Religion and Civil Society

Plusbildung and Paulusakademie, Zurich April 29 – 30
From 29 to 30 April the Oikosnet member from Switzerland Plusbildung together with the Paulusakademie is inviting to a consultation in Zurich on “Religion and Civil Society”. The consultation is to be seen in the framework of a multi-annual project on “Strengthening Civil Society and People’s Participation in Central Europe”, in which Oikosnet is one of the stakeholders.

“The consultation in Zurich is to sharpen our eyes for the relation between religious and civil society actors. In many countries this is an issues. Often religion is seen as something suspicious in civil society. In many countries churches and religious actors do not see themselves as part of civil society and engage with it,” the organisers of the conference state. Therefore, this conference addresses these issues with Switzerland as the example to be studied. But the Swiss example is supposed to offer opportunities for participants to discuss the situation in Europe as a whole.

Invited are participants from Switzerland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Italy and Sweden, countries which will be involved in the multi-annual project. But others are also welcome! For further information please contact the Oikosnet Executive Secretary Rüdiger Noll. 

Oikosnet Europe welcomes a new member

MonoszloOikosnet Europe welcomed a new member at the Annual Conference in Chania, Crete. The new member is The Reformed Conference Centre of Monoszlo, a property of the Reformed (HB) Congregation of Monoszlo, a parish of the Reformed Church of Hungary.

The centre is commited to the education of the new generations in the spirit of mutual tolerance and understanding among all Abrahamic confessions and beyond, through sincere and open minded discussion. With an interdenominational approach it works on deepening social responsibility towards the values of the created world, with a special focus on environmental questions. In its activity it strives for overcoming obstacles laid down by political divisions.

Oikosnet Europe has today 35 member organizations from different parts of Europe. Please get in contact with the secretariat if you are interested to know more about how to become a member.

Member organisations of Oikosnet Europe

Help us rethink Europe together

By Walter Lüssi, president of Oikosnet Europe

Dear Colleagues, dear Members of Oikosnet Europe

Our Annual Conference took place in the Orthodoxe Academy of Crete which was founded fifty years ago. It was the right place to deal with our theme of the study day: “Europe with different eyes: The case of Greece for example”. Here Oikosnet Europe started to engage with Europe and its current problems in a new way. When I’m writing about this I’m very aware that we shall have to learn a lot in the next years. The social and political developments challenge us to make clear statements. But far beyond this: Given the fact that populism has become a new normal in Europe, we have to link our right to exist as a learning community with the question of whether we are able to find common positions based on our expertise and if we can make our voice heard.

Fifty years ago the Orthodox Academy of Crete played a pioneering role and stood from the very beginning for peace and reconciliation among churches and among people of different denominations and cultures. As a gift for the anniversary I was able to present the director of the Academy a special painting. It is a picture which says with colours and forms and with a few words only: Rethink! Rethink Europe. Help us to rethink Europe together – unlimited, making dreams true for us and for strangers. And let us create, as much as we can according to our faith, let us create not new walls, not a “Fortress Europe”, but a real community for all.

Crete was an important step towards a greater commitment which will not be one-dimensional but a joint European effort to develop a common democratic vision of our continent and to contribute to a Europe which needs again to become more human. Warmest thanks to all who has helped to make this step possible. We express our thanks to our host, the director and his staff of the Academy, to the invited experts, to the staff of Oikosnet Europe and to all participants.

Next year the Annual Conference will be held from September 11 till September 15 in the Agape Centro Ecumenico, Italy. We will have to deal again with “Europe with different eyes”, with the European civil societies and with the European dimension of other important issues like the increasing digitization of all areas of life or the field of artificial intelligence. Welcome to the two new Members of the Board of Okiosnet Europe, Kristin Gunleiksrud Raaum, Norway, as Vice President, and Karolína Silná, Czech Republic, as Treasurer. The renewed Board will involve the members active in the subject area and continue developing and strengthening the network of Oikosnet Europe.

kostas & walter



The Annual Conference in Crete


The Annual Conference of Oikosnet Europe was this year hosted by the Orthodox Academy of Crete, an academy that also celebrated it´s 50 year anniversary. As always, it was a wonderful mix of new acquaintances and reunion with old friends.

During the business meeting, two new members were elected to the board. Kristin Gunleiksrud Raaum from the Church Academies in Norway, replaced Sören Lenz from Liebfrauenberg, France as new vice President, and Karolina Silna from the Ekumenická Akademie Praha in The Czech Republic, replaced Nicola Murray from Corrymeela UK.

Two auditors, were also elected, Sara Marta Rostagno from Agape, Italy and Birgit Weinbrenner from the Evangelische Akademie Villigst. Metropolitan Ioannes Sakellariou from Greece was elected as new memeber of the Nominations Comittee and he will share this responsibility with Aleksei Bodrov, from St Andrews Theological Institute, Russia.

A variety of perspectives during the study day
Learning more about the culture and society are for many one the most appreciated parts of the Annual Conferences of Oikosnet Europe. The theme this year was Europe with different eyes – The case of Greece for example, a theme that was exemplified by lectures and presentations with different aspects on the situation in Crete and Greece. Dr Kostas Filis, Director of Research at the Institute of International Relations of Panteion University ( Athens), gave a presentation on the topic “Challenges and opportunities for the EU and the role of Greece”, followed up by a presentation by Dr Kostas Melas, Professor of Economics at Panteion University in Athens, on the concept of “creative destruction”.

A concrete example on how deep crisis could be transformed in to opportunity was presented by Despoina Mathioudaki and Tini Damianaki, two entrepreneurs who succesfully had managed to rediscover old recepies of the traditional Crete cuisine and turn them into good business. Another project that came out of the economical crisis, was presented by Thanos Paraschos, Vasillios Kottas, Sarantis Kyritsis and Heinz Kabutz, students of science at University of Crete, As a learning process in high technology they are trying to send the first Crete astronaut to space. (Not a real one, one might have to add…)
Last but not least, Heinz Kabutz, PhD in computer science, shared his story about starting up a conference business on an island like Crete in the time of crisis. His idea of having conferences without agenda was something that appealed to some of the auditors. So who knows, maybe it will tried out and explored in some upcoming event of Oikosnet Europe.

27 participants, representing 16 member organisations, took part of the conference this year, a most enjoyable stay thanks to the beautiful location and the generous hospitality of director Konstantinor Zormpas and Katerina Karkala Zormpa, head of the Conference Organisations of the OAC. We look forward to meet upp again at the Annual Conference 2019 that will be hosted by the Academy of Agape. More information will be sent out in the newsletters to come.

Minutes from the Business Meeting






Civil Society and Democracy in Central Europe

By Rüdiger Noll, Executive Secretary of Oikosnet Europe
The project on strengthening civil society and deliberative democracy in Central Europe enters into its final planning stage. It is a joint project of Oikosnet Europe, the Association of Protestant Academies in Germany and the Protestant Academy in Rostock and invites academies and church-related stakeholders from Central Europe to participate.

A first stakeholder meeting took place in April 2018 in Berlin with participants from the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Sweden. The meeting reviewed the latest project description and agreed with the aims, the general direction and the set-up of the project. The potential of the project to make a difference was recognised in increasingly difficult times for democracy and peoples´ participation in Europe. Most important, however, was a reality check: which concrete steps can be taken, when civil society is discredited in some countries and the relation between church-related organisations and civil society partners is not evident (from both sides). Therefore, the discussion on target groups and driving forces in the project was crucial. The results of the stakeholder meeting will be captured in a revised project description, which will be available from A first funding request for the project needs to be in place by June.”

Board meeting in Strasbourg

The board of Oikosnet Europe met March 19 in the beautiful city of Strasbourg (see the picture that I took as we were walking through the city for lunch). We were hosted by Union des Eglises protestantes d’Alsace et de Lorraine (UEPAL). One of the most important items on the agenda was of course to discuss various dimensions of the Annual Conference that will take place in the Orthodox Academy of Crete.

The board that was elected in Flehingen, with Walter Lüssi as the new president, is now working on several issues related to how Oikosnet Europe can be significant and fruitful for all its members. How can we inspire more collaboration projects with the community? What themes should be advanced at this point in time? We, as members, are of course of great importance for the development of the association. If you have creative ideas, please prepare to present them at the Annual Conference in Crete!

Alf Linderman, Director of the Sigtuna Foundation

Religious communities should realize their peace potential

Dear Colleagues, dear Members of Oikosnet Europe

In different contexts, our members, academies and educational institutions convince with their expertise. They take position in important social discourses and present their own argumentation. At the same time, they provide a platform for encounters and controversial discussions. That the latter can be important and exciting, we recently learned at an event in Zurich.

Religious communities should realize their peace potential and actively engage in peace as important actors. For this attitude, the podium guests recently voted in a debate on religious peace-keeping in Zurich. Plusbildung, the Swiss association of church educational organizations, had invited for the event.

“Religion can make conflict more difficult – religion is a successful peacemaker.” This ambiguity was presented by Silke Lechner, the deputy head of the working group on Peace Responsibility of Religions at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, in her keynote address with pointed theses. Wars usually have several causes, and little is said about the peace potential of churches, she said. Her team is therefore focusing on the peace policy potential of religious communities worldwide and strives to build a network of suitable religious representatives who actively promote peace. Because these are strongly networked, trustworthy key persons. And especially the participation of internationally networked religious actors is increasingly in demand from the political side, according to the former study director of the German Protestant Kirchentag.

For the first time in Switzerland representatives from politics and religious communities met and discussed on this topic. Among them were Jean-Nicolas Bitter, Senior Advisor to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and Rev. Thomas Wipf, President of the European Interreligious Council of Religious Leaders ECRL. On the one hand, the churches and religious communities have been encouraged to see themselves as “key players” in society, keeping an eye on the international perspective and networking. On the other hand, they were self-critical, since they still have to do their homework, that is, to break away from the ideological-embossing influence of religion and to discover the peace potential of the religions themselves.

I wish our members good luck with their efforts, be it as a “forum” or as a “factor”. And I am looking forward to meeting many delegates at our Annual Conference in September!

Walter Lüssi, President of Oikosnet Europe

Walter Lüssi