WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH ‘HOPE FOR EUROPE’? WILL THERE BE ANOTHER HOPE.21 CONGRESS LIKE THE ONE IN BUDAPEST OVER TWO YEARS AGO? I often get asked these sorts of questions as I move around the continent. Recently in Amsterdam at a meeting of the working group of Hope for Europe, we filled up a whiteboard with encouraging reports of events and plans,. So this is a good moment to give you an update.
Let me first explain. Our aim is not for Hope for Europe to become a widely-known name or concept. It develops quietly behind the scenes as a relationally-based network of networks stretching across Europe, to promote cooperation among believers at European, national and local levels. So if you don’t hear much about it, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Frankly, nobody has a full picture of what is happening as – like the Internet – there is no central control or organisation. Networks have their convenors, who do gather annually at a Round Table to deepen relationships and to oversee the movement as a whole. But each network determines its own development.
You may hear more about the networks themselves, or activities in nations and localities that have been prompted or encouraged by Hope for Europe. The movement will have succeeded when a climate of faith, hope and vision has spread across the continent to spawn all manner of decentralised networks and platforms promoting God’s Kingdom and vibrant body life across the whole church.
We believe the task of biblical transformation in our communities is a task for believers in all walks of life, not just church leaders. Hope for Europe aims therefore to envision and enable members of Christ’s body to work together for positive change everywhere and in every sphere of life. If Hope for Europe is new to you, you can read more about this movement on www.hfe.org.
Here are some of the upcoming activities we noted on the whiteboard in Amsterdam. Some of these are not (yet) ‘official’ Hope for Europe events but have similar goals and have relational links with HFE.
March 30-April 2. Three events have chosen these early spring dates:
· Women in Leadership: Under the title, Friendships Without Borders, women engaged in all manner of ministries will come from Eastern and Western Europe, to Hradec Kr√°lov√© in the Czech Republic. For over a decade – in cities like Frankfurt, Budapest & Paris – the Women in Leadership network of Hope for Europe has linked women together at conferences with lively plenary sessions, InterFace sessions sharing experiences, perspectives and gifts, practical workshops on vital issues, informal fellowship and a national rally on the last day for women from all sorts of backgrounds, in this case from across the Czech Republic.
Well-known international and inspirational speaker and author, Jill Briscoe, will address the plenary sessions on ‘keeping your faith fresh’.
Hostessing the conference are: Hannelore Illgen (Germany), Ildiko Kovacs (Hungary), Ksenija Szabo (Serbia), and Romkje Fountain (Holland).
For inquiries, email to: email@example.com
Register now before the late registration fee deadline of March 15: www.hfe.org/newsandevents/events.php
· Worship : Ron Man, Worship Network Convenor, invites all who share a concern ‘for the worship of Almighty God in Europe’ to convene in a conference centre near Warsaw, Poland, March 30 – April 2. Ron writes: “We will have times for worship and prayer, discussion, hearing about one another¬¥s hearts and ministries, exploring how we can resource and encourage one another, and dreaming about we might help to build Christ¬¥s Church and promote God¬¥s glory among the peoples of Europe.”
Costs are expected to be as low as €100. Contact Ron at: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to: www.hfe.org/newsandevents/events.php
· Church Renewal: Kristiansand, Norway. Martin Robinson, chair of Eurochurch.net writes that God is doing a new thing with the reshaping of the church in Europe. Eurochurch.net comes out of European Church Growth Association and continues on where the church renewal consultation held during HOPE.21 left off. This conference may launch a new network to wrestle towards understanding new forms of church. Speakers will be Knud J√∏rgensen (Norway) and Grace Davie (England), author of Europe: the exceptional case. This is an event I personally plan to attend.
See www.eurochurch.net or email to email@example.com
· Research: Limassol, Cyprus. The Fourth International Lausanne Researchers Conference, held under the auspices of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, has “Uncovering Truth: The Impact of Research on Mission and Ministry” as its theme. Participants interested in presenting papers are invited to contact Peter Brierley, firstname.lastname@example.org. Conference details may be found at www.Christian-research.org.uk. Andreas Wolff will represent Hope for Europe at this conference, as one involved in research particularly for the church planting network of DAWN Europe (Discipling A Whole Nation). New parameters need to be found to describe the spiritual landscape of Europe, as traditional methods of measurement like official church membership often only disguise the spiritual realities.
· Education: Christian educationalists plan to meet at the Le Rimlishof Centre in its beautiful setting near Mulhouse in France for the next EurECA Conference, to look together at the topic of love in action in the classroom in the light of the Bible¬¥s teaching on the different kinds of love. Speaker is Dr Rudolf Westerheide of the German Evangelical Alliance. For further details, contact John Shortt, email@example.com
· Artists: Basel, Switzerland. At the first meeting of this network in Budapest in 2002 convened by Beat Rink, it was decided to meet regularly as leaders of various Christian Art Ministries as an informal network. In Basel, participants will share about their work and ministries, and will discuss future exchange and cooperation, and how to encourage national networks and local artists’ groups. For further info, contact Beat Rink, firstname.lastname@example.org
· Cities: P.L.A.C.E stands for Partners Learning and Acting in Cities of Europe, a very active network with initiatives in Budapest, Paris and Barcelona last year. Convenors Robert Calvert and Steve Thrall are this year organising urban mission ‘consultations’ in Birmingham and Iasi, and ‘trails’ around London, Glasgow and Moscow. Robert is also undertaking networking trips to Cologne, Lisbon and Cluj.
The Birmingham (England) consultation, June 6-8, will address the effects of Islam in England, Netherlands and France, with Dr. Toby Howarth of the Church Missionary Society as host. A consultation in the fall (October 31-November 4) will be held in Iasi (Romania), hosted by Dr. Danut Manastireanu of the Filocalia foundation, with the topic: Vision and ministry strategies for a city.
City consultations are also being discussed for Manchester (about youth), Cologne (about migration), Rome (about Pentecostalism) as well as with colleagues in Scandinavia and the Netherlands. Besides consultations in one city, this network will offer urban ‘trails’ in 2005 to discover City Missions, Leslie Newbigin, migrant urban missionaries (mums) and the Orthodox world. Places are limited and any enquiries or applications should be made initially to Robert Calvert, email@example.com.
· New Europe Forum, Timisoara, Romania. This ann
ual event initiated by the < i>Culture, Values and Politics network aims to seek biblical directions on social, economic and political issues facing Europeans today. The theme of this year’s event is: Doing Politics from a Christian Perspective. It offers three intensive days of interactive training to help us learn to think and act as Christians in politics. Most of the time will be spent in discussions and workshops, facilitated by a resource team including:
– Tadeusz Zielinski – former Polish parliamentarian. Lawyer & Theologian
– Gordon Showell-Rogers – EEA General Secretary
– David Fieldsend – CARE for Europe Manager, Brussels.
– David Hallam – former Member of the European Parliament. Public relations & Affairs Consultant, Lay Preacher.
– Silviu Rogobete – President of the Areopagus Centre, Senior Lecturer at West University, Timisoara
– Julia Doxat-Purser – EEA Socio-Political Representative & Religious Liberty Coordinator
The Forum will have no party political bias and is open to all European Christians who are actively involved in politics or wish to be.
Online registration is possible at www.areopagus.ro. For further information, contact network convenor, Julia Doxat-Purser: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Apologetics: Sopron, Hungary. Under the name of the European Leadership Forum, a ‘cluster conference’ will be held for the third time in Sopron, on Hungary’s Austrian border. Sponsored by the European Apologetic Network and affiliated with Hope for Europe, the Forum is a Europe-wide meeting of evangelical leaders for training, discussions and relationship building. In addition to a specialised apologetics track, eight other tracks are offered on applied apologetics in the fields of theology, counselling, evangelism, science, bioethics, society and for leaders of organisations. These networks are described online at www.EuroLeadership.org.
Plenary speakers include Jerram Barrs (Francis Schaeffer Institute), Dr Henri Blocher (Paris), Dr William Edgar (Westminster Seminary), Dr Peter Jensen (Archbishop of Sydney) and Dr John Lennox (Oxford).
Participation in the forum is by invitation only. You can apply using the Application and Recommendation forms on the above website. But hurry – space is limited.
And that’s just until the summer! So the momentum is beginning to grow and networks spread as we reach out across national boundaries to link hands to face the missionary challenge of a largely post-Christian Europe.
This isn’t the full Hope for Europe story – the rest can wait for another time. But the answer to that other question-will there be another HOPE.21 congress?-is: ‘perhaps one day’. For now we are concentrating on building these networks across Europe, and eventually to see them develop at national and local levels. That all requires good relational foundations. As that Maasai saying from East Africa quoted at HOPE.21 reminds us:
If you want to travel fast, travel alone; If you want to travel far, travel together.
Many of us have set off to travel far… together. Why not join us?
Till next week,