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Newsletter December 2020

We are now approaching the Holiday Season – but for most of us everything is very different this year. Programs are cancelled at our institutions, Christmas worships that both represent and constitute what Christmas is all about are prohibited, and many of us will not have a chance to meet family and friends the way we are used to. But even now, the Christmas message stays the same. A child is born to give us hope. Let us remember this, even in times like these.

The Office of Oikosnet Europe wishes you the best possible Christmas and a New Year full of Hope for the Future!

Alf Linderman
Head of the Oikosnet Europe Office
Executive Director of the Sigtuna Foundation

"Like the virgin get the child!"

Dear members of Oikosnet Europe, dear friends!

Do you understand the figure of speech in the above title? It is an idiom in the German language that means that something actually impossible has happened to someone. In English maybe: "It just fell into someone's lap". But that is not the same, because so the reference to the Christmas story is completely lost.

I'll come back to that. But first I will write what everyone is writing these days: We are at the end of a very special year. I don't remember since I can think and observe that an experience like the pandemic of Covid-19 has ever moved the whole world, kept everyone on their toes and confronted humanity with problems that have not yet been solved. At the same time, we know that this one experience could distract us from so much that has also taken place - in our personal lives, in our institution, in Belarus, in the USA, in ... We still see the many young people who have taken action against climate change under the name "Fridays for Future". We still see the masses who have let themselves be called onto the streets by the "Black Live Matters" movement. 

How may this be …?

Educational events have become difficult. A lot of things, if we didn't want to cancel everything, had to be converted into virtual formats, at least temporarily. Yet education needs encounters. And when it becomes essential, we have to be able to look each other in the eyes. This year, too, it became clear how fake news and conspiracy theories can proliferate virtually and on social media to an unprecedented extent. What does this mean for our educational efforts? And how do we have to shape our commitment to peace, justice and the integrity of creation, to solidarity and well-being for all in the future? How may this be, that something changes for the better?

In Luke's Christmas story, Mary asks the angel who comes to her this very question: "And Mary said tot he angel, How may this be, because I have had no knowledge of a man?" (Luke 1,34).

"And the Angel in answer said to her, The Holy Spirit will come on you …" (Luke 1,35).

The Holy Spirit will come on you …

The changes to the better will not come "like the virgin get the child". But just our own efforts will not be enough either. We cannot all always do more. Cooperation, consistent cooperation across borders will be necessary. Confidence in our own abilities and experience certainly too. And then still this hope that a good spirit will come to our aid. "The Holy Spirit will come on you …"

I wish this Christmas hope for all of us. Now. In the everyday of our lives. And when we start our projects again in the coming year with renewed energy. 

In this senseand on behalf of the Board of Oikosnet Europe: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Rev. Walter Lüssi, President of Oikosnet Europe

A short report from the board meeting November 30

November 30 the board of Oikosnet Europe had yet another virtual meeting, the way of seeing one another we all have got so used to this very special year. This specific situation also had a strong impact on the agenda. 

The zoom conference on Belarus October 8 was evaluated and the general impression on this initiative, taken by Rüdiger Noll, was very positive. To be able to hear direct reports on the difficult situation in Belarus, and to be able to reflect together on how we can show support, really underlined the possible strength and capacity of our network.  

Katerina Karkala Zorba also gave a report from the Arab Europe Citizens' dialogue, arranged October 22 by OAC, CEOSS and Oikosnet Europe. The conference was arranged as a zoom-meeting, but given the limitations of not seeing one another in flesh and blood, the dialogue on how we all try to cope with the corona situation was valuable.

The General Assembly of 2021

The planning process of the General Assembly 2021 was also a topic on the agenda, and we all hope that we will have the possibility to have a physical conference this time. The venue is still to be decided, but you can already save the dates, October 6 - 10, in your calendar.

Present board members at the meeting were Walter Lüssi, president, Kristin Gunleiksrud Raum, vice president, Jörg Hübner, Karolina Silna, treasurer and Katerina Karkala Zorba. Others present were Executive Secretary Rüdiger Noll, Karin Sallander and Sofia af Geijerstam from the office in Sigtuna.

Next Board Meeting is envisaged for January 13. Please contact our Executive Secretary Rüdiger Noll, or President Walter Lüssi if you have a question or topic that you would like the Board to discuss.  

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