Two new members of the board

At the General Assembly of 2022 in Malaga two new board members were elected; Lucia Leonardi and Heinz Joachim Lohmann. Lucia is the director of Agape Centro Ecumenico in Italy and Heinz Joachim Lohmann is director of studies for democratic culture and church in rural regions at the Protestant Academy of Berlin.

Lucia and Heinz Joachim are replacing Jörg Hübner, director at the Academy of Bad boll and Karolina Silna, director at the academy in Prague.

Photo: Alexei Bodrov ( election committee) Lucia Leonardi, Heinz Joachim Lohmann and Gernot Meier, ( election committee).

Thank you all for a great General Assembly 2022!

It was a great joy to see so many members at the General Assembly of 2022 in Malaga October 5 – 9. After several years affected by the Corona virus we could finally meet one another face to face again.

Our host Gloria Uribe Cifuentes from the Lux Mundi Ecumenical Centre did a wonderful in making us all feel so much at home at the beautiful Casa Diocesana de Espiritualidad in Malaga.

The theme of the conference was The Green Deal from a European Perspective and local perspective. Antonis Kalogerakis from the Orthodox Academy in Crete gave a presentation on the European perspective followed up by a lecture by Dr Felix Lopez Figueroa sharing his inspiring work at the University of Malaga.

Presentation Dr Felix Lopez Figueroa

To those who would like to follow up the speach given by Antonis Kalogerakis he recommends a report from a recent conference given by CEC.
Every part of the creation matters

Due to the situation in Ukraine there was also a session about Peace and Reconciliation, where Colin Craig from Corrymeela and Ruth Harvey from Iona shared some thoughts from their many years of work in this field. It was also very valuable to have the possibility to listen to some voices over zoom giving witness on the situation they live with every day.

We had the pleasure to welcome a new member, the community of Iona. We are really happy to have you with us and look forward to see what this will bring for the future.

Where next years conference will take place has not yet been decided but we look forward to see you all where ever it might be.

Welcome to the Arab-Europe Citizens Dialogue on Religion and Society

Cairo 14 – 17 June 2023
As a member of Oikosnet Europe you are most welcome to participate in the upcoming Arab-Europe Citizens’ Dialogue in Cairo, Egypt 14 – 17 June 2023. The Arab-European Citizens’ Dialogue was established in 2010 at the Orthodox Academy of Crete (OAC) as an expansion of a previous Egyptian-German dialogue. The main counterparts are the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS) in Cairo, Egypt, and Oikosnet Europe. From 2010, there has been a series of consultations in Europe and in the Arab region and the focus this year will be the relation between religion and civil society. A more detailed program will be distributed closer to the conference.

Conference Organizers
The Arab-Europe Citizens’ Dialogue Conference on Religion and Society is organized jointly by the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS), Oikosnet Europe and the Sigtuna Foundation. On both the Arab side and the European side, there are some possibilities for financial support. This is handled separately by the two regions. Feel free to contact any of the following persons if you have general questions about the conference and/or about the conference organizers:

Arab region: Samira Luka
European region: Alf Linderman

Dialogue for Peaceful Change Training

Corrymeela, Ballycastle Monday 20th – Friday 24th March 2023

Our member organisation Corrymeela will be hosting a Dialogue for Peaceful Change Training in March 2023 at Ballycastle Centre on the north coast of Ireland. Colin Craig, previously the Executive Director of Corrymeela will facilitate the training and as a member of Oikosnet Europe you are most welcome to join.

Cost and Accomodation ( Ensuite bedrooms)
Single bedroom £ 680.00 pp
Shared bedroom £ 600.00 pp

Financial support from Oikosnet Europe
Oikosnet Europe will provide financial support for two participants to join the training. ( You are expected to cover your cost of travel.) Participants with financial support should give a written report about their impressions, and if possible present it at the next General Assembly of Oikosnet Europe. If you are interested to apply for financial support from Oikosnet Europe please contact our treasurer Alf Linderman. alf.linderman@sigtunastiftelsen

You can read more about Dialogue for Peaceful Change at the website

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen

Hebrew 11.1

Dear members of Oikosnet Europe, dear friends!

A few weeks ago, as President of Plusbildung, I was invited to a conference in Paris. During a visit to the “Institut Protestant de Théologie” I discovered a cartoon by Bernard Stehr (“Theology of hope”). It accompanies me through this Advent. People long for liberation. Also in Europe. In a way undreamed of until recently. What gives them the strength to build on their skills and resources? What makes them trust in their resilience? What encourages them to exercise patience with great confidence?

The path to freedom can only be found together

In recent years, Escape Rooms or Escape Games have become well-known and popular. A team of players searches for clues and solves tricky tasks in order to be able to leave a room in which they are locked in. The challenge is to share knowledge and imagination, experience and intuition, expertise and daring to experiment by all, to combine approaches and agree on a common course of action. The more complex the puzzles and questions to be solved, the more the joint effort and the contribution of all resources is required. Finally, patience and confidence are needed, hope that together we will succeed in what is too much for me as an individual. The path to freedom can only be found together … and yet remains unavailable.

Education contributes to liberation

When I take up the idea of “Escape Rooms”, it seems to me that many aspects come up that I associate with what I understand as good educational work.

Education finds ways out. Education contributes to liberation. Education is a collaborative enterprise. Education encourages collective action, leads to concrete deeds. Education does not deny complexity. But church-based education also reckons with the unavailable, with that which cannot be calculated. It therefore remains patient and at the same time alert for the kairos, the right moment.

I wish that in this way we will remain committed together in Oikosnet Europe and beyond. We feel the responsibility. We feel the necessities of our time. We know the obligation of solidarity. Let us not give up the faith that together and with God’s help we can make a difference for a better Europe and for the many people who live in fear and need.

With the best wishes for a Merry Christmas,

Rev. Walter Lüssi, President of Oikosnet Europe

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

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.