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Oikosnet Europe Newsletter - Nov 14

Below, you will among other things find a text by Jaap van der Sar in memoriam of our former president Peter Middlemiss who unexpectedly passed away in October. Many of us have met and worked together with Peter, and we will miss him sincerely.

Next newsletter will be distributed in December. If you have any information that you would like to see there, please send this to: office@oikosnet.eu.

Alf Linderman, Executive Director of the Sigtuna Foundation

A year of hands-on work of a refreshed Oikosnet

By Rüdiger Noll, Executive Secretary of Oikosnet Europe

An Annual Conference of Oikosnet Europe, such as the one just held in Villigst (Germany), is always a moment of stock-taking as a basis for looking forward. The Annual Report presented to the Annual Conference gives account of the work of the Board in the years 2013 and 2014. It helped the Annual Conference to look into the future.

Some Board members were newly elected in 2013.  Read more

The Role of Religion for Cultural identity, Democracy and Peace, Sigtuna May 18th - 20th

By Alf Linderman, Executive Director of the Sigtuna Foundation 

How can religion today be recognized as a constructive dimension of cultural identity? How can religion and different religious traditions support democracy, peace and human rights? Where do we find the good examples? What role can civil society institutions, which serve as interfaces between religion and society, play for a progressive development? Such questions are at the core of the “Visions for the Future” dialogue forum that will take place at the Sigtuna Foundation in May 2015. At this point we would just like you to save the date and start thinking about how you can contribute to this European Dialogue Forum. 

We hope to see you in Sigtuna in May 2015!           Read more

German Academies adopt a new Europe Concept

By Rüdiger Noll, Executive Secretary of Oikosnet Europe

At its most recent Assembly at Neudietendorf, the German Academies, under the roof of their umbrella organization EAD, adopted a new concept for making Europe a priority issue for the years to come.

The concept starts by recognizing that Europe is and must be a key reference point for reflection and action in the discourse of today´s issues. On the other hand, though, Europe for many people is far away and offers seemingly very few opportunities for getting engaged. Academies, therefore, are faced with the dilemma that the reflection on genuine European issues is not always met with a lot of interest. Nevertheless, bringing Europe closer to its citizens and finding ways for peoples' participation in the political and decision-making process remains to be a crucial task also for church-related academies. 

Read more

In memoriam of Peter Middlemiss

By Jaap van der Sar,  President Oikosnet Europe

On Sunday 19 October 2014, our former President, Peter Middlemiss, passed away. Hearing this made me aware and thankful about the long history he has had with us, with Oikosnet Europe. And it made clear that we owe many things to him.

Peter was the ‘Warden’ of Holland House, close to Worcester, UK. In that function he considered it good to not ‘just’ receive guests in the house, but also to offer context to them about the world we live in. Enjoying a good meal, being present for guests and exchanging stories about life in all its aspects – it was the Peter’s habit of ‘subliminal learning.’ His presence was inviting, supporting the others in their way of being someone to careful listen to. In the real sense he was a host.

Also in Oikosnet Europe he has had a long lasting presence and contribution. He participated in the so called Course for Leadership in Lay Training’ in Erfurt in 1988, one year before the Wall came down. And he was sensitive about the way people played their roles there. Even a decade later, he was still able to point at incongruences, which he discovered in people who probably played a double-role. He was aware of that, but not angry. His wisdom made him careful to not use too many words. He was elected as an Executive Committee member of Oikosnet Europe in 1993. When he finished that term, in 1999, he was elected as President. In his position as president he served Oikosnet Europe another 6 years until 2005, offering all members more than a glimpse of what is, to us, known as English humour. Obviously he set a standard for that, as was visible in many reactions after we heard about his passing away.

Peter taught me how he used to handle meetings, both in his church as well as in Oikosnet. Most of the time he was rather quiet listening to anyone who wanted to contribute. His own contributions were short, most of the time more regarding process. But when he considered it both required and effective, he would influence the discussions, the opinions by a longer contribution. Doing so, he was decisive on crucial matters about the direction to take. For him, this was about the way the laity would have a realistic and respected place in the church. His passion was more on that than on theology, big studies, and long lectures. Together with that passion, he was also convincing in another passion: Enjoying a good glass of whisky. Single Malt – only that! He was experienced with that – with only very small quantities of it. He was a connoisseur and convinced others to enjoy it as well. And even there, he continued to work more on the relationship with the people than on the content. Relationships went beyond knowledge, beyond books and titles. Relationships were about friendship, which could last long.

That is the impression I take with me from our former president. I recall his name with honour and pride: Peter Middlemiss. May he rest in peace.

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