Community Diakonia as Response to Economic Insecurity
GENEVA, 6 December 2011 (LWI) – A group of Lutherans from different parts of Europe is converging on Helsinki for a three-day workshop on re-forming community diakonia in the region.
The 7 to 10 December workshop in Järvenpää, near the capital city, will launch “Seeking Conviviality,” a three-year process that aims to develop holistic diaconal responses by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches to growing poverty and marginalization in Europe.
Rev. Dr Eva-Sibylle Vogel-Mfato, area secretary for Europe in the LWF’s Department for Mission and Development (DMD), said the insecurity in which Europeans from both Western and Eastern Europe are living forms the backdrop for the workshop.
“This crisis calls for another vision of Europe: of growing into solidarity in a broader community that could enhance sustainability for all,” she remarked, referring to the need for the LWF communion to identify with the poor as a part of itself and address marginalization together.
The workshop, organized jointly with the International Academy for Diakonia and Social Action (Interdiac) in Český Těšín, Czech Republic, will look at ways of strengthening diaconal actors in their work, relationships and communities, and explore the theological and spiritual resources from which they draw.
The participants will come from 14 countries in Central Eastern and Central Western Europe and the Nordic region. They will form a core group for the duration of the consultative program.
Vogel-Mfato said the breakdown of communism resulted in great economic hardship for people in Central Eastern Europe, with the collapse of social security structures. Though the region had slowly recovered, the recent economic crisis has endangered the basic income of many.
“And the basic concerns raised over the past decade continue to concern us, and have spread to all regions of Europe. There is existential insecurity and fear during the ongoing economic crisis, with unemployment and rising numbers of families living at the edges of poverty,” she commented.
She cited her own country Germany, one of the economic powerhouses of Europe, with more than one million children at the edge of poverty, and also pointed to a growing phenomenon of burnout and minimum wage concerns.
“Seeking Conviviality,” slated to run until 2013, is intended to strengthen the churches’ commitment to transform these daily realities of poverty and marginalization, and to contribute to dialogue within the LWF on diaconal practice, noted Vogel-Mfato. (404 words)