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Newsletter from Oikosnet Europe Dec 2017

We are now approaching Christmas and a New Year. We can look back at the autumn with gratitude for many things. Among those things is the development of Oikosnet Europe. We have a new organizational structure, a (partly) new board, and a new president. Still, it is important to remember that we are all responsible for the development of our network. Let us all explore further how we can interact and collaborate with our partners in Oikosnet Europe.

The Sigtuna office wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Alf Linderman
Head of the secretariat of Oikosnet Europe and director of the Sigtuna Foundation 

A new board and a new president

By Sofia af Geijerstam

Walter Lüssi, General Secretary of the Reformed Church Canton of Zürich and President of Plusbildung, ökumenische Bildunglandschaft Schweiz, has been elected as the new President of Oikosnet Europe. Walter Lüssi is the successor of Jaap van der Sar who has had the position of President for Oikosnet Europe the last six years, and stepped down according to the statues. Walter Lüssi was elected at the Annual Conference in Flehingen, Germany in the beginning of September.

– Modern societies and the churches themselves are dependent on places of encounter, on expertise and public debates. To this Oikosnet Europe is committed, says Walter Lüssi in a comment to his new role as President.

Walter Lüssi has a long term experience within Oikosnet Europe. Partly as former director of the academy of Boldern, one of Oikosnet Europes member organisations and partly as the former Treasurer of the Board of Oikosnet Europe 2010 – 2014.

In addition to Walter Lüssi, the Annual General Meeting in Flehingen also elected Sören Lenz (Liebfrauenberg, France) as Deputy Chairman and Dr. Julia Gerlach (Academy Meissen) as new members of the Board. Nicola Murray (Corrymeela, Northern Ireland) and Dr. Konstantinos Zormpas (Orthodox Academy of Crete) remained as members of the board according to the election in 2016.

Together, above all together ..

Dear Colleagues, dear Members of Oikosnet Europe
European contexts pose many challenges. Longer-term transformation processes are superimposed by rapid changes in many areas of social life. The list of key words that try to rewrite this situation is long;

secularization, traditional demise and “the end of grand narratives”, digitization and its impact on the workplace, the cult of health, institutional disenchantment, demographic change, gender and diversity, religious and inter-Christian pluralism, terrorism and counter-terrorism efforts, climate change, the tendency to “useful truths”, the changing media landscape, the endangerment of the heritage of the Enlightenment, the growing right-wing populism and increasing nationalism, migratory pressures and the phenomenon of stateless people etc.

Humans and the environment, living together and the cohesion of societies are affected. And we know that people behave differently in the face of their “Fear of Falling”. In a public survey conducted in late 2016 and early 2017 Chatham House researchers identified in collaboration with Kantar Public six ‘tribes’ across Europe that transcend national boundaries and whose members share similar opinions and life experiences:

Everyone is not doing everyting
With all these topics and their social, religious, political and spiritual implications, the members of Oikosnet Europe are working in their own specific ways. Not everyone is doing everything. The expertise is naturally limited to certain fields of research that are related to the history, tradition and strategic orientation of each organization. But what unites us in the Association of Oikosnet Europe is to preserve and promote a common Europe, the tireless remembrance of the dignity of each individual, the careful handling of other lives, care in using the limited resources in God’s creation. In this endeavor, we provide our services to the churches and a broader public and seek cooperation with other civil society actors.

Modern societies and the churches themselves within the European contexts are dependent on places of encounter, on expertise and public debates. To this Oikosnet Europe is committed. I cordially invite you to renew this commitment and share it with others within our association. Together, above all together, we are able to play a significant role and contribute to current discourses.

With best wishes,

Walter Lüssi, president of Oikosnet Europe

The digital revolution and it´s children

Report from the Annual Conference of Oikosnet Europe

Flehingen Germany, September 6 – 10, 2017

By Julia Gerlach

The Annual Conference (AC) of Oikosnet Europe brought together colleagues who work in academies and laity centers from all over Europe. This year, the meeting was scheduled in Flehingen, a cosy place of about 3,600 inhabitants close to Karlsruhe (Germany), not far from the borders to both France and Switzerland. The event was organized by Uta Engelmann and Dr Gernot Meier of the Protestant Academy Baden that in 2017 is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Read more 

Report from the board meeting

Tützingen, Germany, November 23 - 24, 2017

By Sören Lenz

Once upon a time… So starts every fairy tale and the plot is often situated in an enchanted castle. The protestant academy of the Bavarian Lutheran church is situated in a castle, the surroundings are enchanted, and the lake of Starnberg is open to the marvellous scenery of the Bavarian Alps. But that was not the reason why the new board held its first meeting in this place. This strategic meeting allowed us to have a first contact with the new vice-director Judith Stumptner   of the Evangelische Akademie Tutzing and to present our European network.

This meeting showed that the Bavarian Academy is not only situated in a beautiful landscape but is as well an important place for seminaries and conferences concerning Church and society issues. ( It would be a great asset if the academy of Tutzing would joint our network in the near future. Read more 

Pre invitation to the Arab-Europe Citizen´s Dialogue

Sigtuna, Sweden May 1 - 4, 2018 

Gender, Media and Religion: Contemporary Challenges to Society and Democracy 

By Alf Linderman

In recent years, we have seen the rise of many cultural tensions and conflicts, even violent terror and war, in many parts of the world. This has not least been the case in Europe and in the Arab region. Religion has been at the core in many of these contemporary conflicts.

If we wish is to see the development of healthy and well-functioning democracies in Europe and in the Arab region, we need to discuss the relation between religion and society. In doing so, we must, among other things, specifically focus on gender issues.

We hereby invite You to take part in this Arab-Europe Citizens’ Dialogue on religion and society! Whether you have been participating in any of the previous dialogue consultations or not, you are most welcome to take part in the next event. This is a pre-invitation. A more detailed invitation will follow.

Pre invitation

Read more 

Save the date for the Annual Conference 2018

The Orthodox Academy of Crete September 5 – 9, 2018

By Kostas Zormpas 

Book your flights, pack your summer clothes and bring along your enthusiasm and your ideas to the next Annual Conference of Oikosnet Europe. Save the date September 5 until September 9 . The rest will be taken care of by the Orthodox Academy of Crete. Read more 

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