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Conference 2003, Budapest, Hungary    
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Building bridges in Europe


Budapest, a European city between east and west, dominated by its many bridges crossing the Danube and connecting Buda and Pest, has been the place of ICCS triennial conference in 2003.

Building Bridges

The theme Building Bridges In Europe - The Role Of Education and Religious Education For Religious and Cultural Uunderstanding emphasized the importance of bridges as a symbol also for educational activities. Existing cultural and religious plurality in Europe needs constructive approaches to education, without trying to harmonize differences and experiences.Education and Religious Education play a significant role because their contribution to a European knowledge society is always oriented on a holistic understanding of education and critical against any dominance of political and economic interests in educational aims.The programme was structured around three main themes:

1. Building Bridges between East and West in Europe
2. Building Bridges between Confessions and religions in Europe
3. Building Bridges between different pedagogical approaches

Encounter, encouraging dialogue and working together on these themes happened among the 75 participants from 20 different European countries. Papers were delivered about the current religious and political culture in Hungary (Prof. Miklos Tomka[Hun]),

Prof. Tomka

the started dialogue of the Council of Europe about a new approach to intercultural education which includes the religious dimension (John Keast[UK])

John Keast

and an information about dispositions of the Conference of European Churches concerning future activities in education (Dr. Sturla Sagberg[Nor]).

Dr. Sturla Sagberg


Simon Oxley, WCC officer for Education and Ecumenical Formation

Simon Oxley

argued in his contribution strongly that the view on Europe shall not be too narrow. Ecumenical co-operation is always crossing boundaries and therefore a global perspective is needed as a complementary view. He encouraged also a critical, sometimes prophetic contribution when it comes to dialogue with political bodies. Educational activities of the churches should facilitate a faith based perspective which can contribute to any kind of education where dealing with differences, healing and reconciliation is at stake.

During the conference projects from different countries were presented e.g. in teaching material promoting a new relationship between science & religion, pastoral care in schools, church lobby activities towards national parliaments and governments or co-operation between Protestant schools in Germany (Bavaria) and Hungary.

Discussion Group

Round tables dealt with a more intense dialogue between confessions and religions as well as between different approaches to religious education. The conference encouraged ICCS to strengthen the co-operation especially with partners in east and south of Europe and with catholic and orthodox constituencies.

It was not all hard work and outing to the countryside around Budapest and a fine meal at a local resturant made the conference fun as well as work and gave the conference an opportunity to let its hair down.

Finnish Singing

The president of ICCS and also a long term partner of WCC, Hans Spinder from the Netherlands ended his work for ICCS with this conference. Hans, who represented also WCC at various meetings, will start to work as a theological staff member at the Ecumenical theological Centre in Matanzas/Cuba in 2004.

Hans with shirt




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