As the equinox approaches, the days are getting shorter, darker and cooler here in the northern hemisphere. Summer vacations are over. The new academic and political years have begun. What then is on the calendar for the Schuman Centre?
• The Marriage Course: This week Romkje and I hosted the first of seven evening sessions of this course in the Upper Room salon (Prins Hendrikkade 50A), in partnership with the Noorderkerk, a leading Reformed church in Amsterdam. Five other couples joined us around our kitchen table for the opening meal, before moving to the salon for the video presentations.
• The Caleb Forum: this coming week, Romkje and I will be in Ireland for an annual retreat of senior YWAMers for prayer and mutual encouragement towards ‘finishing strongly’. We start in Dublin with a mini-heritage tour of Celtic monastic sites, our first on-site tour since COVID.
• Schuman Centre Learning Communities: Over two weeks, we launch the first of three six-part ‘learning communities’ to be held fortnightly on Thursday evenings, exploring themes on faith and society. The fall series focuses on the relevance of the Dutch theologian/educationalist/politican/journalist Abraham Kuyper for today’s society, following Michael Wagenman’s excellent little book, Engaging the world with Abraham Kuyper.
In recent years several books have appeared in both Dutch and English with fresh insight into how Kuyper’s writings from over a century ago have become crucially relevant for our polarised societies. When the temptation for Christians is to ‘take back our nations for God’, Kuyper’s emphasis on justice for all, not just believers, and on a pluralistic society where all can exercise their right of freedom of conscience and belief, offers an alternative to the increasing polarisation we are witnessing.
These ‘learning communities’ will be hybrid events, with core participants gathered in the Upper Room, and others joining online from anywhere around the world. Topics to be covered are: 1. Who was Abraham Kuyper? (29 Sept); 2. Kuyper & life systems (13 Oct); 3. Kuyper & religion (27 Oct); 4. Kuyper & politics (10 nov); 5. Kuyper & science (24 Nov); 6. Kuyper & art (8 dec). (Details next weekly word).
A winter series will follow beginning in January, based on the insightful Nancy Pearcy book, Love thy body. Can today’s over-emphasis on the body and sexuality represent the unpaid bills of a church lacking a theology of the body? What has created our blind spots on these topics, making us reluctant to engage? The dates of this series are yet to be confirmed.
Spring will see a new series, on the Lost Code, the forgotten role of the Bible in shaping western society and even our contemporary lives. We will trace its influence on art and music, architecture and design, agriculture and gardening, business and economics, education and scholarship, ethics and values, family and marriage, time and history, and much, much more. These dates are also yet to be finalised.
• European Studies Days have been a staple diet of the Schuman Centre. Three are planned in the Upper Room on Saturdays for the coming year:
- ‘What made Europe ‘Europe’? Oct 22, 10.00-15.00; why we can say that the story of Jesus is the single greatest factor shaping Europe’s past;
- ‘the Robert Schuman story’, Jan 28, 10.00-15.00; the remarkable post-war process of forgiveness and reconciliation that made European integration possible;
- ‘a spiritual uprising’, April 22, 10.00-15.00; the spiritual forces behind the fall of communism – a largely untold story.
• The Masters degree programme in Missional Leadership & European Studies: we help facilitate this 3-year part-time with ForMission College and Newman University in Birmingham, UK, now being held in hybrid mode. That means the course can be followed from anywhere in the world without needing to come to Amsterdam for study days. Entry points are September, January and May of each year. The January module consists of a virtual European Heritage Tour. Starting in Ireland, the virtual tour proceeds through Scotland, England, Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and France, tracing the story of creative minorities who shaped Europe through their faith. These sessions will be held each Monday evening for 9 weeks from Jan 16 to March 13., 19:30- 21:30 CET. They can be audited for a fee.
• Next year’s State of Europe Forum is planned for Stockholm, May 5&6. This annual event held in the capital of the nation holding the presidency of the EU convenes Christians from a wide spectrum of disciplines and church backgrounds together to evaluate Europe today in the light of Schuman’s vision for a community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian values.
• The 2023 Summer School of European Studies will possibly be in Brussels – dates and location yet to be confirmed. This five-day event, taught primarily by Professor Evert van de Poll and myself, offers biblical perspectives on Europe’s past, present and future through excursions, films and discussion. Special focus will be learning about the EU institutions.
Romkje has planned some book discussions for women on books by women authors.
So watch this space for further details, or write me directly with any questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Till next week,