ICCS news:

“Working together in this Thematic Group has been very important to us all. It allowed for dialogue with colleagues from all parts of Europe, from Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican and ecumenical backgrounds. In our world today characterised by so much divisiveness and so much violent opposition, it is especially welcome to find a safe space to hear and listen to one another. We cherish this dialogue very much.” This is how the members of the Thematic Group on Education, democracy and diversity summarise their experience. For almost three years, the members of the group by the Conference of European Churches worked together. Among them was also Bianca Kappelhoff, who was mandated into the group by ICCS, which holds the status of an organisation in partnership in CEC. In a video statement the members emphasize what they valued most about their common work: building a safe space for meaningful discussions, gaining new perspectives, building a network of Christian professionals across Europe to only name a few. Content wise, their work covered areas from populism, peace education to (inter)religious learning and learning in diversity.

The common work was particularly challenging because due to Covid-19 during the first two years meetings could only take place online until the group met for the first time face to face this spring. Nevertheless, all group members draw positive conclusions. One development though, that casts a cloud over this encouraging summary, is that CEC decided to end the group’s mandate half a year earlier than planned due to its restructuration process. This restructuration process foresees the closure of the Strasburg office by the end of 2022, the one responsible for the TG and its topic until now. Therefore, the members of the Thematic group are worried about the future consideration of education in CEC work. As final outcome, the group will communicate recommendations on this matter to the Governing Board and the General Assembly of CEC. “I very much hope that our experiences as Thematic Group will be taken into account”, underlines Bianca Kappelhoff. “Education is at the heart of our Churches and has an important part to play ecumenical work.” ICCS values very much the possibilities of mutual encounter and enrichment in CEC and hopes to continue contributing to this work in the future.

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