The 20th Academic Consultation of the Societas Oecumenica will take place near Mannheim, Germany, 23-28 August 2018.
The theme of this year’s consultation is “On Nations and the Churches: Ecumenical Responses to Nationalisms and Migration.”
Churches in Europe have a specific history of experiences with regard to relationships to their respective nations. While churches agree that the Christian faith has a transnational character, the question to what extent this character should also be realized in a collective and national sense of interpreting and shaping community life is always present. In 20th century Europe, related theological debates took place against the backdrop of political realities such as colonialism, the world wars, fascist regimes, and Communism. After World War II, the establishment of the WCC demonstrated a growing critical attitude, particularly in Western European churches, towards various forms of nationalism. The transformation movements in Europe after 1989 and the renewed convergence of East and West, however, revived theological discussions on the legitimacy of a strong link between Church and nation. These questions also came to relate directly to experiences of mass migration, the suffering of violence in war, and state oppression, as well as with current uncertainties due to felt threats of the dissolution of supposed cultural homogeneity. Can “nation” be understood, on the background of these different experiences, as part of the theology of creation – as a space of life given and to be shaped in a Christian manner? Is there a way for nationalism and current migration experiences to converge? Do churches have something specific to say on this situation in an ecumenical perspective? These questions are at the heart of our consultation.
Organizing committee (Standing Committee of SO):
Ulrike Link-Wieczorek (University of Oldenburg), President
Jelle Creemers (Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven), Secretary
Stefan Höschele (Theologische Hochschule Friedensau), Treasurer
Ștefan Barbu (Rector Orthodox Parish, Leuven)
John Berry (University of Malta)
Minna Hietamäki (University of Helsinki)