Queen Elizabeth reminded her subjects around the world on Christmas Eve that, while there had been ‘moments of darkness’ over the past year, ‘the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (John 1:5)
Dutch King Willem-Alexander quoted the angel Gabriel in his Christmas speech urging his listeners to ‘Fear Not!’ Fear must not be given the reins of our lives, he urged.
Angela Merkel urged her fellow Germans on New Year’s Eve not to follow ‘those with coldness, or even hate in their hearts, and who claim the right to be called German for themselves alone and seek to marginalize others’.
All of which is advice we can profitably heed. No-one really knows what this new year will bring for us. But at the Schuman Centre, we do have plans for several events to help us understand our fast-changing world and to connect us with others searching for biblical perspectives on Europe today.
May 8 & 9–The State of Europe Forum: this annual event, now being held for the sixth time, brings together believers from various church backgrounds (Orthodox to Pentecostal), disciplines (economics, theology, politics, education, media, science, academics…) and nationalities across Europe to evaluate the state of our continent in light of Robert Schuman’s dream for a ‘community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian values’.
As the Netherlands holds the EU presidency for the next six months, the forum will be held in the capital, Amsterdam, in the historic Zuiderkerk (see photo) in the picturesque old city centre.
All are welcome to join the Sunday afternoon public Celebration of Freedom (May 8, 15.30), to be followed by plenaries and working sessions for registered participants that evening and all the next day. In what has been called the ‘most liberal city in the world’, and in the face of today’s multiple threats, the theme–The paradox of freedom–will be highly relevant as we ask how to sustain Europe’s freedoms.
Registration opens on February 1, and more information will be available shortly on www.stateofeuropeforum.eu.
July 4-17–The Celtic Heritage Tour: once more, we will gather in Dublin to begin our pilgrimage in the footsteps of early saint and scholars who transformed Ireland and the British Isles with their radical new message about the God who loves, forgives and who even died for us. We will follow the traces left behind by the colourful and creative Celts across the Emerald Isle, over to Scotland and down through England into more recent centuries, becoming familiar with the names of Patrick, Bridget, Columba, Aidan, Cuthbert, Chad, Augustine of Canterbury, More, Wycliffe, Tyndale, Wesley, Wilberforce, Booth and others. Registration is now open and places are filling. For further details, see
August 3-7–The Masterclass in European Studies: I know of no other comparable short course available for all that gives an intensive introduction to the paradox of Europe: the continent most shaped both by the gospel and its rejection. My colleague Professor Evert Van de Poll, of the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven, teaches an excellent series on ‘Europe and the Gospel’ . I personally wish every student, pastor and Christian worker in Europe could hear this teaching. Drawing from 35 years of teaching on missions history, I will supplement his lectures with sessions coupled with local field excursions. Location is yet to be finalised. Registration opens February 1 when details will be finalised and posted on: www.schumancentre.eu/courses-events/masterclass
December 6–The Schuman Symposium on spirituality and politics: still eleven months away, yet worth noting in your agenda, at least if you live reasonably close to Brussels. By this date we plan to have opened a Schuman Centre office in Brussels, with Kathia Reynders. We hope to encourage politicians and staff of the European institutions through this annual symposium held just prior to the annual European Prayer Breakfast, to challenge the reigning secular climate which tends to push faith matters to the fringes of society. Further details will be posted closer to the date on www.schumancentre.eu/symposium
Under the name of Schuman Resources, we have started a new publishing brand for resources promoting the aims of the Schuman Centre. These will be available for order online in both hard cover and e-book form.
Titles coming online this month include:
• The House of Squatters, and other essays on Europe; talks and articles I have presented over the past two decades across Europe
• What Jesus said… about the church and the kingdom, a look at Jesus’ central message with possibly surprising conclusions
• Shapers of our modern age, profiles of five men who profoundly influenced nations through their faith: John Wesley (England), William Carey (India), Hans Nielsen Hauge (Norway), Abraham Kuyper (Netherlands), Frank Buchman (Europe and beyond).
• Fear Not! the report of the State of Europe Forum in Riga, May 2015
• Hope in times of crisis, the report of the State of Europe Forum in Athens, May 2014
As these titles become available, details will be posted on www.schumancentre.eu/resources.
We hope some of the above activities and resources will be of help as you seek to see God’s kingdom come in greater measure, his will being done, in Europe as it is in heaven, this year.
Till next week,