Network for Ecumenical Learning in Central and Eastern Europe


How the idea emerged


The idea of such a network emerged during the debates held at the last three conferences organized by WCC / Programme for Ecumenical Theological Education (ETE), CEC and the Volos Academy, the topic of which was The future of Ecumenical Theological Education in Central and Eastern Europe. After the meetings in St. Petersburg (Challenges faced by new Europe and our concepts of theological education in Eastern and Central Europe: interchurch cooperation in education, October 26th-29th, 2003) and in Thessaloniki at Volos Academy for Theological Studies (Ecumenical Theological Education in Central and Eastern Europe, February 9th-11th, 2007), 37 academics specialized in Ecumenical Theology and representatives of ecumenical institutes from various Central and East-European countries (Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine), representing the Greek-Catholic, Hussite, Lutheran, Orthodox, Reformed and Roman-Catholic church traditions, gathered at Sambata de Sus (Romania) between 24th-28th September 2008 to debate upon the future of the ecumenical education.


Project relevance


The debates revealed that acknowledged strategies as well as WCC programmes from other areas regarding the ecumenical matter have not been implemented adequately in Central and Eastern Europe. A differentiated profile of the ecumenical education in this region and in each particular country is still to be elaborated, and we have to stress thereby how necessary the collaboration of the local research institutes with each other and with the European ecumenical fora is.

There is a great necessity to develop new methods of ecumenical learning which should not only involve pure transmission of information, but also a deep understanding and an ecumenical ethos, which should enable learning from each other, foster the friendship and avoid stereotypes and distorted images about the others.

In this respect, both representatives of ecumenical institutions and theological educators emphatically expressed the necessity of a stronger network, where the separate ecumenical endeavours could join. The unique relationship between diversity and commonness can be therefore transmitted through an exchange process, and concrete partnerships for comparative research of the ecumenical profile characteristic to particular regions and countries can also be founded. The propositions expressed during the previous meetings regarding the development and coordination of the network have been given now the form of concrete measures.


Planned activities

At the first stage the platform for this exchange process and network of the ecumenical institutions and academics will be conceived as a website providing relevant information for the members. The working principles and the priorities of the network were specified in detail after consulting all members by means of a questionnaire. In order to strengthen and extend our mutual cooperation, the following activities will be undertaken (listed according to the importance given by the members):

- encouragement and support of common research projects;

- providing an on-line ecumenical library;

- promotion of students and academics exchange in the framework of existing programmes;

- exchange of experience as far as inter-confessional Theology courses are concerned;

- promotion of study programs offered by member institutions (ex. Distance Learning Master’s Program in Lviv);

- extension of the internet activities by providing a forum and a newsletter service;

- preliminary work regarding the issuing of a Resources Book for Ecumenism in Central and Eastern Europe in collaboration with WCC / ETE and CEC;

- support with the preparation of a follow-up meeting;

- extending the network with new members.




The Institute for Ecumenical Research in Sibiu, Romania was appointed – at least for the first stage of the project – as coordinating centre and webmaster. The Institute expressed its willingness to make its infrastructure in Sibiu available for the project. The entire enterprise will be logistically and professionally supported by WCC / ETE and CEC. In addition to that, the project needs a start-up financing support for a part-time position in the next three years.