4th NELCEE Conference,
Vilnius October, 15-16, 2014
On 15-16 of October 2014, the 4th international conference, organized by the Network for Ecumenical Learning in Central and Eastern Europe (NELCEE) in cooperation with European Humanities University (EHU) and the Issa Institute and the support of ETE/WCC project, and Kerk in Actie/ICCO, was successfully held in Vilnius, Lithuania. The general theme of the conference was “Christian theology in a new key: Practical examples, Innovative models and modern challenges of the ecumenical learning and theology in Central and Eastern Europe. The case of the ‘Orthodox Handbook on Ecumenism’ as a case study.”
During the first day of the conference the members of the network presented the recent results of their research on the theological learning and education from their respective contexts. The opening lecture was given by the guest speaker, Prof. Christo Lombaard (University of South Africa), an expert on theological education who, on the occasion of his presence due to his lecture series in the University of Vilnius, spoke on the topic “Theological Education in Africa: current issues and non-issues for cross-contextual comparison”. Laima Geikina (University of Riga, Latvia) spoke then on “The place of practice in the studies of Theology. Ecumenical aspects”, while Alexei Bodrov (St. Andrew’s Orthodox Biblical Institute, Moscow, Russia), presented a paper on the “Problems and challenges of theological education in Russia”. Stefan Constantinescu (Institute for Ecumenical Studies, University of Fribourg, Switzerland) spoke on the “Evolutions in confessional, ecumenical and religious education in the primary and secondary school level. The Swiss model”, and Stefan Tobler (Institute of Ecumenical Research, IERS, Sibiu, Romania) presented a paper on the “Ecumenism needs spirituality”. Péter Balla (Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church, Hungary), spoke on the topic “Ecumenical Aspects in the Exegesis of the New Testament”, while Stephen Garrett (Issa Institute, Vilnius Lithuania), presented a paper on the “True Friendship: Learning from the Ecumenical Conversations between Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar”. Finally, Olga Breskaya (European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania) spoke on the “Deconstructing the Debates Rift: Sociological and Theological Argumentation on Human Rights in Eastern Europe”.
The second day of the conference, after the two remaining presentations by Natallia Vasilevich (Centre “Ecumena” Minsk, Belarus), who spoke on the “Public discourse on religious education in Belarus: confessional, ecumenical, patriotic?,” and Oleg Bresky (European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania), who presented a paper on “The positive doctrine about the Church status in the contemporary world according the canonical law of Russian Orthodox Church”, was dedicated to the presentation of the recent publication of the Orthodox Handbook on Ecumenism. Resources for Theological Education (Volos Academy Publications in cooperation with WCC Publications and Regnum Books International, Oxford, Volos, 2014). After a brief presentation of the Handbook by the coordinator of the network and co-editor of the Handbook, Nikolaos Asproulis (Volos Academy), a fruitful and creative discussion and reflection took place on the usefulness of the Handbook as a means of promoting theological learning and education in Central and Eastern Europe. The conference concluded with a city-tour in the Vilnius old town and the plenary session of the members of the NELCEE network on the future perspectives of the network, where a decision was taken among others for a future publication on an inter-Christian approach of the theological education in the Central and Eastern Europe.
The 4th Nelcee Conference
NELCEE is planning to organize in collaboration with European Humanities University in Vilnius Lithuania, its third international conference, next October (2014). Thus, following its basic working principles and priorities, and the chain of the previous successful consultations, the NELCEE network will continue to organize events dealing with the problems and challenges of the ecumenical learning and undertake important initials of communicating the ecumenical ethos in the Central and Eastern Europe.
Topic: “Christian theology in a new key: Practical Examples and Innovative Models of the ecumenical learning and theology in Central and Eastern Europe. The ‘Orthodox Handbook on Ecumenism’ as a case study”.
A two - day conference, in Vilnius Lithuania, 14-17 of October 2014.
New coordination (2014-)
After the last consultation of NELCEE network in Tallinn (entitled “The Challenges of Teaching Ecumenical Theology in Central and Eastern Europe”, October, 11-14, 2012), and during the first semester of 2013, a substantial change was decided as regards the coordination of the network. After many years of a very successful and fruitful coordination by the Centrul de Cercetare Ecumenică Sibiu (CCES) in Romania (under the former and the current Director Dr. Ioan Ovidiu and Dr. Stefan Tobler, respectively), the coordination has now decided by the members to be undertaken by Volos Academy for Theological Studies which was initially one of the co-founders of this network, since 2007. The working person in this task will be the member of the academic team of Volos Academy, Nikolaos Asproulis, (MTh., ABD.).
2nd NELCEE Consultation
The Challenges of Teaching Ecumenical Theology
in Central and Eastern Europe
Tallinn 11th – 14th of October 2012
Social phenomena like migration and globalisation accelerate the formation of multicultural and multi-religious societies, with its chances of cultural exchange on the one hand, with a tendency toward ‘closed identities’ on the other. On this background, the Central and Eastern Europe constitutes a peculiar space with a specific mixture of ethnical and religious groups. Therefore, any ecumenical endeavour in this region requires previous thorough analysis of the particular conditions in each country on the one hand, and in the whole region on the other hand.
The Network for Ecumenical Learning in Central and Eastern Europe was formed as a group of experts involved in ecumenical activities and research, attempting to tackle ecumenical issues in this double-dimension method of research and to act like a partner for several international institutions focused on ecumenical activities.
The development of an ecumenical ethos in this region, which is NELCEE’s long-term objective, is strongly linked to learning and teaching processes in the involved countries. NELCEE intends to undertake a thorough research and put these processes under the microscope.
What are the main challenges of teaching Ecumenical Theology in this specific region? (The particular situation in each involved country is to be examined.) Where do the diversities and similarities between these challenges in the different countries/regions lie? How can we bring synergy between our activities and resources? How can we improve our knowledge and the impact of our ecumenical endeavours? Are there new trends in dealing with Ecumenical learning and teaching in this region?
All these questions and several others will be dealt with during the second NELCEE consultation.
The programme of the consultation will be soon available.
First NELCEE Consultation
Religious Education in school – confessional or ecumenical ?
Prague 14-17 October 2010
Between 14th and 17th of October 2010 the first NELCEE (Network for Ecumenical Learning in Central and Eastern Europe) consultation took place in Prague. The topic of the debates was „Religious education in school – confessional or ecumenical?” The conference programme can be downloaded here.
The 12 member institutes have decided to consolidate their collaboration in the field of religious education, setting as immediate objectives membership enlargement, facilitation of student and professor exchange programmes between member institutes, encouragement of a tight cooperation with the national ministries of education, development of common research projects. The first common research project will be focused on “Formal and Informal Methods for Ecumenical Formation in Central and Eastern Europe”. The final report can be downloaded here.