„Builders connecting – Celebrating the Kingdom of God”

  • In NEWS
  • November 15, 2022
„Builders connecting – Celebrating the Kingdom of God”

By the HOPE 2022 team



On 4-8 October 2022, the HOPE FOR EUROPE 2022 Experience took place in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The special gathering, hosted by the European Evangelical Alliance takes place every three years and convened more than 280 evangelical leaders from across Europe to share strategies, best practices and valuable insights. The motto of HOPE 2022 was „Builders connecting – Celebrating the Kingdom of God”.


In the opening plenary of HOPE 2022, Jeff Fountain (Director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies), shared a message called Is there still ‘hope for Europe’? Jeff spoke on the history of Hope For Europe and the goals of the movement. The message was both encouraging and bold, as Jeff challenged believers to remain hopeful in uncertain times.


Jeff Fountain was presented with the 2022 Hope Award for his work in Europe embodying the message of biblical hope and values of partnership, networking, transformation, and integrity. EEA General Secretary, Connie Main Duarte praised him for his work: “Jeff is a pioneer in championing the importance of European Christian networks to create synergy as well as networks within nations. Networks of specialists. Networks crossing the boundaries of denomination or type of organization. Networks who are a great support for churches and National Evangelical Alliances.” EEA General Secretary, Jan Wessels, added: “Jeff has been the one within our European Evangelical family who has championed hope the loudest and the longest. He has constantly reminded us that, if Jesus asked us to pray ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’, then it is indeed His will that it will be done.”


Networks connected in good deeds


At the heart of HOPE 2022 were 17 thematic networks of the European Evangelical Alliance, covering topics ranging from “Collaborating for Shalom in our Cities/Developing a Missional City Vision” (EEA Cities Network) and “Helping churches to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of war and occupation” (Refugee Highway Partnership) to “Women and men partnering for God’s work” (Women in Leadership Network). Each network got the chance to present their work and had prepared a White paper outlining the vision and mission of their ministry.


Attendees then had the option to be part of sessions in smaller groups (community groups and builder groups) where the networks could elaborate on their work and facilitate discussions. This special time for networking an interaction was a highlight for many attendees, who found the groups challenging and encouraging, an excellent platform for the discussion of specific issues, and a forum for new partnerships to be formed.



Memorable conversations and new friendships


HOPE 2022 was postponed a year due to the covid pandemic. After times of lockdown and digital gathering, it was refreshing and delightful to meet in-person. HOPE 2022 was a chance to catch up and share stories and life, to encourage one another. The evening dinners in the restaurant, coffees in the hotel lounge, and trips to the city of Sarajevo all provided opportunities to socialise, reconnect with old friends, and to form new friendships. Lasting contacts and partnerships have come out of the time spent together in Sarajevo.


A diverse alliance reflecting “the face of Europe”


On the second night of HOPE 2022, we celebrated the outgoing General Secretary Thomas Bucher. At the handover ceremony, EEA President Frank Hinkelmann gave the ceremonial address for Thomas Bucher and thanked him for his commitment to the EEA and the Evangelical Movement in Europe. Thomas handed over leadership of the EEA to the new General Secretaries, Connie Main Duarte (Portugal) and Jan Wessels (Netherlands). Connie and Jan wish to build on the vision and mission of EEA and work to include more diverse voices in the Evangelical Alliance, in particular the younger generation, people with disabilities, and migrants so “the face of Europe” is represented in EEA gatherings.


One of the ‘new voices’ who shared his perspective at HOPE 2022 was Pastor Dele Olowu, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, one of the largest migrant churches in Europe. Pastor Olowu spoke about the ‘silent’ churches of Europe. We need to bring back the noise, the singing and the dancing in the churches, as these are signs of life. “God has great plans for this continent” Pastor Olowu said, and challenged everyone to pray and believe for revival in Europe.



Unity in the body of Christ

In the closing plenary, WEA Secretary General, Dr. Thomas Paul Schirrmacher, shared a message titled The call for the unity of the body of Christ is a call for cooperation of very different parts of the body!’ Thomas encouraged Christians in Europe to serve in unity for the sake of the gospel, for as we stand united there is strength in the body of Christ. This message resonated with the spirit of unity and love that was tangible throughout HOPE 2022. One attendee noted: “I praise God for the Alliance and Networks within Europe and to witness what can be accomplished when we unite.” We believe that HOPE 2022 was a great step in the right direction for the evangelical community in Europe and we are excited to reap the fruits in the coming years.


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