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Newsletter from Oikosnet Europe – November 2016

In Sweden, where the secretariat of Oikosnet Europe is located, we have already had the first snow for the season. Darkness during most of the hours is also what we in the north must accept this time of the year. This does not, however, overshadow the fact that we are close to Advent and Christmas – holidays filled with light and expectation.

Before Christmas, there will be an OE board meeting in Budapest. Please write to the office mail,, or directly to board members, if you have anything you would the board to take into consideration.

After the board meeting, and before the upcoming holidays, there will be another OE newsletter.

Alf Linderman, Executive Director of the Sigtuna Foundation

What is next?

By Jaap van der Sar, president of Oikosnet Europe

A new president in the USA. What will happen there and how will the outcome of the election affect us? 

Definitely it is clear that the surprise of the result makes us think about developments in our own continent. How are we dealing with polls? Do we ‘just’ consider the votes and far less the reasons why people have made their choice? Do ‘we’ listen enough to sentiments and arguments of people who seem to loose far more than to gain from globalisation?

Polarisation is not new in our continent. It is already with us as I noticed when I recently listened to some colleagues in the Eastern part of Germany. They told about the careful and intense work they are doing when dealing with political views which remind too much to the period before World War II. What can academies and laity centres do? What are the options in a divided society to work on? I heard that our colleagues carefully support people from all walks of life in this region when they are looking for a society where people want to live well together. It is not so clear, obviously, what everyone is considering ‘living well’. How is this connected with the construct of an ‘identity’? What to do with the sometimes very rude way people behave towards each other? It appeared that each of the colleagues has to find a balance about the tensions they are able to deal with – and where they will withdraw. At which moments is it wise to step back, to not talk anymore, to vote against anything. read more

Oikosnet mourns the death of Roman Juriga

By Rüdiger Noll, Executive Secretary of  Oikonet Europe

Oikosnet Europe together with the worldwide environmental and ecumenical movement mourns the death of Roman Juriga who died suddenly and unexpectedly on 6. October 2016.

Most Oikosnet members met with Roman at the occasion of the most recent Annual Assembly in Prague in September. He looked tired, perhaps stressed, but full of new plans. The Annual Assembly celebrated that he just managed to acquire a new building for the academy in Jarvornik. A new start was in sight.

Oikosnet Europe recognizes his contributions to the ecological and ecumenical movement as well as to the dialogue between church and society. “Roman was, what I would call, a diesel-engine: it takes a while before it gets warm and strong, but then it is very powerful and long lasting. We loose a good colleague and dedicated member of our association,” Jaap van der Sar, President of Oikosnet Europe, said. “We were friends since many years and we planned several initiatives together,” Rüdiger Noll, Secretary of Oikosnet Europe added. “I still cannot believe that Roman is no longer with us. I admired his courage and trust in God’ guidance in often difficult times. Roman would not let loose even if the circumstances were not brilliant.” Read more

Cooperation continued...

Jaap van der Sar, president Oikosnet Europe

As we are fully aware of, the contributions of Rüdiger Noll are very important for Oikosnet Europe. Less known is the fact that his work is enabled by the EAD (Evangelische Akademien Deutschland – Protestant Academies Germany). Since beginning 2014 Rüdiger can dedicate 30% of his time to support activities and work of Oikosnet Europe.

During the meeting of the EAD in Güstrow, Germany, from 14 – 16 November, a short evaluation of the last three years took place. The general line of the exchange of thoughts: we are on a good track with each other. Many things have been done – and more to come. The decision: we will continue the cooperation for the years to come. I was present at this meeting and I expressed my thanks for the work so far as well as for the continuation of the cooperation. 

New staff at the secretariat

We are happy to welcome Karin Sallander to the secretariat of Oikosnet Europe. Karin has a long experience as project manager within tourism and cultural events and is replacing Lovisa Degref Beselin as adminstrative assistent for the sectretariat of Oikosnet Europe. 

Exchange between members of Oikosnet Europe

At the Annual Assembly in Prague, members of Oikosnet Europe were invited to indicate their priority themes and their wishes for staff exchanges. The list can now be found on the Oikosnet website. Follow link

This is an initiative to foster cooperation in-between members. The hope is that this way thematic working or discussion groups will be established across Europe and mutually enrich perspectives and programmes. It is also hoped, that staff exchanges will contribute to further sharing each other’s richness, experience and expertise.

The Oikosnet Board is fully aware that further steps need to be taken in order to make this process of sharing more timely, interactive and inviting. Ideas are welcome before Board will resume for its next meeting in Mid-December.

Next Board Meeting Budapest 8 - 9 December

The next Board meeting of Oikosnet Europe is scheduled to take place in Budapest 8/9 December. Part of the meeting will be devoted to meeting present, former and future members of the network. The Board will also evaluate the Annual Conference in Prague and start the planning for the 2017 Annual Conference in Beugen/Germany. Those Oikosnet members who want to submit a project proposal and apply for seed funding are invited to send their proposal in time with the respective form sheet to the Oikosnet Secretary at

Wartburgfest Thüringen 21 – 26 August 2016

The Evangelical Academy of Thüringen (Neudietendorf) is part of organizing an encounter and a conference for about 120 young people and young adults, mainly from Poland, Germany and France, at the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the so-called “Wartburgfest”. The Wartburg is not only symbol of the reformation, where Luther had to hide and translated the bible. It is also the symbol for one of the first big first student´s gathering 300 years later. Despite its national connotation, this Wartburgfest can also be seen, and should be celebrated, as a first step in the direction of a democratic society. The organisers of the anniversary event in 2017 want to discuss democracy from a European perspective. On the agenda are themes such as: refugee policies, and rising right-wing populism. Oikosnet members who are interested in participating or sending participants are invited to contact Michael Haspel at:

European Christian Convention – European Kirchentag

Efforts to organize a European Christian Convention (ECC) or European Kirchentag have made progress. The initiative is at the brick to be registered as an association according to Belgium law. Members of Oikosnet Europe are invited to consider as to whether they want to become founding members. In case of interest, please contact: Founding members from among the Oikosnet family are already Oikosnet Europe, the Sigtuna Foundation, the Orthodox Academy of Crete and St. Andrews Theological Institute. Oikosnet Europe is at present represented on the Board of the ECC by Rüdiger Noll, Katerina Karkala-Zorbas and Alexei Bodrov.

Is your organization prepared for Europe?

A new online tools www.europeanisation.euis available for organisations and institutes in the area of adult education to assess their readiness to think and act European. The tool was developed by a consortium of organisations, including the EU Fundraising Association. Some Christian Academies have contributed with their input to developing this tool. (cf. earlier Oikosnet Newsletters)

The tool offers a self-analysis in three areas:

  • Which issues are relevant to the organization in the process of becoming more European
  • Where does the organization stand in the process of Europeanisation
  • Recommendations for further development.

 Read more

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