Dear Members and Friends of Societas Oecumenica

With this message we send you our Christmas wishes! A year full of upheaval is ending, and we are going to remind each other that Light has entered the world. May you all be strengthened in certitude, that our hope is never vain!

It is my hope that the upcoming Christmas period may bring you the good company of friends and family, a time to reflect and remember, and renewed energy and passion for the year to come. On behalf of the Standing Committee, I wish all of you a merry Christmas and a blessed new year!

As you know, Societas Oecumenica will not have a Consultation next Summer. But the Standing Committee will gather soon in Leuven. We will look back at our past Consultation in Helsinki and start preparations for our 2018 Consultation. The publication of the proceedings of 2016 are in the good hands of Dagmar Heller and Minna Hietamäki. If you have any questions in this regard, you can contact them.

Our next consultation should – as far as possible – be concerned with the topic “Nationalism, Migration and Ecumenics”. This has been the proposal of the last Membership Meeting in Helsinki 2016. The conference will be organized in cooperation with Prof. Friederike Nüssel in Germany in Ludwigshafen/Heidelberg. Feel free to contact me or the Secretary, Jelle Creemers, with any questions or suggestions. We will keep you updated on developments and look forward to hearing from you.

With kind regards from Oldenburg,

Ulrike Link-Wieczorek

President of SO


Dear members of the Societas Oecumenica, dear colleagues,

Our meeting in Budapest is now behind us, but at this point I would like to thank again all those who were involved in its preparation, especially Peter Szentpétery and his wife Marianne, without whom this conference would not have been such a success. In the meantime, there is also a report (written only in German though), from Christian Henkel and Johanna Rahner, which you find here below and which has been published in the Ökumenische Rundschau (issue 2/2015, p. 255-261). It will soon be available on our website.

The Proceedings of the Budapest conference will be published by Evangelische Verlagsanstalt in Leipzig during the first half of next year.

In the meantime, we have already made the first steps towards our next conference: The Standing Committee met in Helsinki by the end of May in order to start planning the 19th Academic Consultation of the Societas Oecumenica. The dates have already been fixed and were communicated by e-mail in my Christmas letter, but I will repeat them here:

25. – 30. August 2016

at Sofia-Center (Kulttuurikeskus Sofia) in Helsinki.

We formulated the theme in the following way:

Just do it?

Recognition and Reception in Ecumenical Engagement

With this we followed the proposals of the 2014 membership assembly held in Budapest, and we are convinced that it will be another interesting conference. You are all cordially invited to Helsinki! Please note the date and plan for this consultation, in order to make it as interesting as our last consultations. The costs will be – thanks to the generous contribution of our hosts – similar or only slightly more expensive than those in Budapest.

‘Recognition’ and ‘reception’ are basic elements for the reflection on the goals of ecumenism and on the necessary steps, which lead to the goal of unity. In order to read the unity of Christians, it is both necessary that the churches recognize each other as churches, and that Christians of different traditions recognize each other as believing Christians. This includes the mutual recognition of baptism and eucharist, as well as the mutual recognition of ministries. Yet, how are we to understand the term ‘recognition’? What is ‘recognition’ exactly? Does it mean to respect someone’s skills? Or do we think of an official act, by which it is stated, that a person or an institution is legitimate? In the same way we need to question the term ‘reception’: we speak about the reception of ecumenical documents, and complain if they are not received. ‘To receive’ means also ‘to accept’ and ‘to adopt.’ We can adopt an idea, but we can also adopt a child. We can receive and welcome people and for this we sometimes organize receptions. It is not by chance that we have a ‘reception’ in each hotel. To recognize someone as a Christian, does this mean to receive him or her as brother or sister in my home? Is reception more than recognition? Is recognition the first step before reception?

These are only some of the questions on which we will shed some light from different perspectives: from different confessional-theological perspectives, from a philosophical perspective, in light of ethical-moral questions, as well as in a practical perspective from the daily life in a congregation and in churches at the local level. And, finally, we will take up the question of recognition or non-recognition in its ecclesial and social dimension.

As usual, there will be again the opportunity to present one’s own research projects and results in short papers (workshops).

In a certain way, the social highlight of this conference will be an excursion to Tallinn (Estonia), which can be reached easily by boat from Helsinki.

The detailed programme will be published next spring in “Signalia,” where you will also find a “Call for Papers” for the short papers/workshops.

There are few more decisions, which we took at Helsinki and which I would like to inform you about:

  • It seems unnecessary to us to publish in “Signalia” every other year the whole list of members of the Societas Oecumenica with their addresses. We intend to put on the website a list of members (without addresses) instead, which will only be accessible to members. This will enable us to avoid some juridical problems, and make the production and the distribution of “Signalia” easier. We will welcome your feedback on that topic. In case a majority of you does not agree with this, we can return to the old custom.
  • The website (http://www.societasoecumenica.net) has in meantime – after overcoming some difficulties – been moved to Tübingen and is being taken care of by Johanna Rahner and one of her assistants. We decided upon some updates, which you will be able to look at soon.
  • In the meantime, the Societas Oecumenica can also be found on twitter under @SocOecumenica.

I join my voice to that of the Standing Committee to wish you a nice summer!

With best wishes,

Yours

Dagmar Heller, President


 Christmas greetings

Bossey, in Advent 2013

Dear members of the Societas Oecumenica,

This past year has been a time of intensive preparations for the forthcoming 18th Academic Consultation of Societas Oecumenica, which will take place 21-26 August 2014 in Budapest under the theme “Catholicity under Pressure: The Ambiguous Relationship between Diversity and Unity”.

The Standing Committee met twice during the year, once in Budapest, and once at the Ecumenical Institute Bossey/Switzerland. The programme for the consultation is almost ready. You will receive it with the next “Signalia” and you will also find it soon on our website. This gives me the opportunity also to draw your attention to the “Call for Papers” for short presentations during the workshop sessions at the consultation (please consult our website under “News”!).

Together with the whole Standing Committee I hope to see many of you in August in Budapest. This will be an opportunity not only for personal exchange, but also for reflecting together on challenges for ecumenical thoughts and studies in our modern world and how academic ecumenical work can and should be continued.

In this sense I would like to send all the members of Societas Oecumenica best wishes for a peaceful Christmas and a joyful and successful new year!
Rev. Dr Dagmar Heller
President


XVIIIth Academic Consultation

« Catholicity under Pressure : The Ambiguous Relationship between Diversity and Unity »
21-26 August 2014, Budapest

Call for papers/workshops
Workshops are an opportunity for (not only) young ecumenists to share insights of their research projects with other researchers.
We invite participants to present short (20 min.!) papers, related to the overall theme of the consultation or related in general to ecumenical issues.
We welcome proposals for such papers between now and 15 May 2014 with a an abstract of max.500 words (either in English, German or French) sent to the secretary of Societas Oecumenica Dr. Péter Szentpétery (peter.szentpetery@lutheran.hu).

(Please note: After the consultation the short papers may be submitted to the standing committee for consideration to be published in the proceedings of the conference and peer review.)


News from Members

Towards the end of 2012 the Societas Oecumenica lost two longstanding members: On 29 November Ulrich Kühn died in Leipzig at the age of 80, and on 11 December Hans-Dieter Döpmann died in Berlin at the age of 83. Both have, each in their own way, made important contributions to the ecumenical movement and we therefore wish to honour them with these tributes.