Coming up fast…

June 18, 2018

Good news. Summer begins this week.

And with it come great opportunities to engage with our world.

Cambridge: Next month, The Social Reformers Summer School will be held in Cambridge, England, run by our good friends and colleagues from the Jubilee Centre. Designed for recent graduates, young professionals and others in business, public services or the charity sector, the school will be held in Westminster College begins at 12.30 on Thursday 12th July, and ends on Sunday, 15th July.

Are the names Thomas Clarkson, Toyohiko Kagawa and Florence Nightingale familiar? Maybe you recall Clarkson from the film Amazing Grace – the Quaker reformer who goaded William Wilberforce into radical action. Florence Nightingale was the heroine of the Crimean war who nursed suffering soldiers. Once a byword in the English world, I suspect she is a stranger to the younger generation. As for Kagawa – well, go to Cambridge to find out more.

Profiles of social reformers such as these will be part of the course, as participants explore how God uses people to make a lasting impact. Nothing is as inspiring as to realise what God has done through dedicated individuals in the past, and wants to do through us again.

Many of us want to get involved in bring justice into our world issues, but how? What is a specifically biblical approach to changing society? The school will walk participants through the biblical and relational framework for social reform developed by Dr Michael Schluter, one of the speakers, and consider case studies from different sectors of society.

The third day offers a comprehensive workshop to learn how to define the problem, build a team and design a strategy for leading initiatives that make a lasting impact on people’s lives and wider society. The Summer School will include lectures, workshops, films, group discussions and collaboration, along with a Christian heritage walking tour to discover how the Christian faith shaped one of the world’s leading university cities. You can find out more here.

Amsterdam: For student workers, pastors, church planters, professionals, evangelists – actually anybody working in Europe and wanting to understand more about the challenging and needy mission field God has placed us in – the Masterclass in European Studies is the second opportunity we want you to know about.

We have held these masterclasses in Geneva, Brussels as well as in Amsterdam where this year’s course will take place, from Monday August 6 through to Friday August 10.

I don’t know of any other one week course giving the kind of spiritual perspective on this continent that has been most shaped by the Bible and by the rejection of the Bible.

How can we make sense of the rapid changes taking place today and how should we respond to the challenges of secularism, populism, Islam and new spirituality?

Evert Van de Poll, professor at the Evangelical Theological Seminar in Heverlee near Leuven in Belgium, will engage with the class on a range of topics from how the idea of Europe emerged, through to making sense of the contradictory ideas competing to shape tomorrow’s Europe.

I personally have learnt much from Evert and am grateful that he takes time out each year to give this input. We will learn from walking around the inner city of Amsterdam about how to see ‘what lies beneath’ – that despite all the distractions, we can see God at work today in significant and encouraging ways.

We can offer some partial scholarships for non-salaried missionaries, but for further information check out the website page.

Tallinn: With the good news of summer’s arrival comes also the realisation that the days begin to get shorter again – for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

But even when the days become shorter than the nights, there’s still something to look forward to. For two weeks after the equinox – when the days and nights are the same length – the third Hope For Europe Congress will take place, October 8-13.

I passed on chairmanship of HFE almost two years ago now to Thomas Bucher, general secretary of the European Evangelical Alliance, so while there is some continuity, there are also some distinctives. While the first two congresses were held in Budapest in 2002 and 2011, this time Tallinn, Estonia, will be the venue. As with the earlier events, the congress is built around existing pan-European networks:  Arts, Cities, Children’s ministries, Disabilities, Educators, Economics, Evangelism in a New Age, Anti-trafficking, Healthcare, Media, Refugees, Muslims, Roma, Peace and Reconciliation, Prayer and Youth.

Plenary sessions will take a look at the broader issues facing us all in Europe today. Several plenary speakers I know and recommend personally: Steve Hollinghurst, Andrzej Turkanik and Johannes Reimer; while I look forward to learning from and getting to know Meego Remmel and Helen Sworn in Tallinn.

I hope to see you there.

Till next week,

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