“Seeking Conviviality,” a 2011-2013 Department for Mission and Development program, looks to develop holistic diaconal responses to poverty in Europe. Meet Rev. Avo Üprus, a member of the core group.
Name | Rev. Avo Üprus
Country | Estonia
LWF Member Church | Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
How are you involved in diakonia?
I am the director of the Department for Diaconal Work and Social Action of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELC), serving vulnerable groups in society.
Our projects include:
- training and reinsertion program for the unemployed
- work with disadvantaged young people and their families
- confirmation camps
- roundtables with local governments and congregations in cooperation with the Estonian Council of Churches
- Diaconal Days in cooperation with the EELC Institute of Theology
- chaplaincy service (military, prison, school)
- pastoral care in hospitals
What challenges you in your work? What motivates you?
I have a small parish in Tallinn, [where] we have developed a “social church” model: we have a children’s home in the church building, we work with more than 70 very poor families in our community and we actively take part in crime prevention. It is amazing to start new activities to build trust and cooperation in civil society.
My motivation is a strong faith in my calling and sense of responsibility. I would like to build up a more honest, value-based and safe society, where the church and parishes have an integrative role. I have a special interest for work with the homeless and poor people, young [offenders] and prisoners with life sentences. I would like to see the abolition of life sentencing in Europe.
How does your faith link to your diaconal engagement?
All my life is based on faith and I prefer to preach with actions, not words.