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. 

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