We are not ashamed of the gospel

European communicators met in Strasbourg, France, this year for the second time. Photo: LWF/Arni Danielsson
European communicators met in Strasbourg, France, this year for the second time. Photo: LWF/Arni Danielsson

European Communicators gather in Strasbourg

(LWI) – It is valuable to listen to communicators from churches in other countries sharing the story about what it means to be church in their societies and how this is communciated, participants of the Meeting of European Communicators at which people involved in the church communication of the three European regions of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) agreed.

The meeting took place in Strasbourg, France, from 8 to 11 October. It was hosted by the Union of Protestant Churches in Alsace and Lorraine (UEPAL). Under the theme “We are not ashamed of the gospel – the church in the public space” the communicators discussed the situation and context of the churches and how communication contributes to the mission of the church.

Many innovative projects that connect people through communication were presented, highlighting the value and vitality of communication in the churches. These ranged from using Instagram to draw a younger generation to church in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia, the Camino Latvia pilgrimage path of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, a project on communication as mission that aims at building communications capacity of parish staff in the Church of Sweden, a campaign of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland for a forgiveness emoji, and the new website of the UEPAL which provides space for congregations’ websites.

Among other issues discussed were relation between churches and governments, ecumenical relations, what it means to be church in a secularized society, Lutheran identity and the historic roots of the churches.

In his keynote address Edwin Ruigrok, policy advisor at PAX voor Vrede (PAX for peace) encouraged churches to engage in peace building through open, inclusive processes and not to shy away from strong political statements.

The program in Strasbourg also included a visit to the Directorate for Human Rights at the Council of Europe and a reception at the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg.

LWF Head of Communication, Rev. Arni Svanur Danielsson, presented the LWF’s global communications work. He introduced plans for connecting existing regional communication networks in a global network of communicators. “We have a lot to learn from each other and are regularly reminded through our exchanges that there is no church so small that it doesn’t have something to give – and no church large that it doesn’t have something to receive, as former LWF president Josiah Kibira once put it.” 

The European Communicators Meeting was preceded by a meeting of the KALME network, which brings together Lutheran minority churches from Eastern Europe, France, Netherlands, Italy and the United Kingdom. 

This was the second meeting of European communication officers, with the first one having taken place in Riga, Latvia, last year. It was led by KALME President, Dr h.c. Praxedis Bouwman, on behalf of the LWF Europe desk. A third meeting is planned next year.