From 11 – 14 June 2019 more than 70 participants from over 20 countries met for the annual General Assembly of the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) in Bad Blankenburg/Germany to consider how Evangelical Christians across Europe might reach out more with the message of hope and love to all who live on this continent in times of insecurity.
Dealing with the theme ‘On the road home: How to journey safely’, the General Assembly not only addressed the general human longing for safety but also the current concerns about the Europe in which we are living. The General Secretaries of National Evangelical Alliances, representatives of affiliate members and the chairs of Hope for Europe networks discussed the real or perceived reasons might cause Europeans to feel unsafe in their own countries and continent and wrestled with unmasking these concerns and challenge them in the light of the Bible. The EEA intends to encourage the Church to look at its own fears and concerns, to overcome them with love and to find real refuge and safety in God.
“As we are all aware, the topic security is very high on the agenda in society in general and in legislation more specifically.” says Thomas Bucher, General Secretary of the EEA. “We strongly believe, however, that there are other answers to this challenge than tightening up general security measures and confinements to the Freedom of Religion or Belief – which seem to be typical reactions that legislation often chooses these days.”
Frank Hinkelmann, president of the EEA, looked at the thematic challenge from history’s viewpoint delivering a lecture on “Journeying safely – lessons from history”. Kosta Milkov, the director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Macedonia and founder and director of the Balkan Institute for Faith and Culture took this further by addressing two topics: “Journeying safely – contemporary issues and challenges” and “Journeying safely – into the future”. Additional bible studies and interactive breakout sessions helped the participants to transfer the presented ideas into their own working and living context.
Another part of the weeklong programme was the presentation of the EEA`s annual HOPE Award to Thérèse Swinters on the evening of 12 June 2019. Mrs Swinters is the facilitator of the European Disability Network (EDN). Against the background of her ground-breaking work over the past 15 years, the EEA honoured Ms. Swinters for her “persistent building of the Disability Network and her gracious handling of the able people along the way”.
In addition, the participants witnessed the celebration of the official inauguration of the new General Secretary of the German Evangelical Alliance (GEA), Dr. Reinhardt Schink. Bishop Efraim Tendero, the General Secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, honoured the celebration with his presence and publicly thanked Hartmut Steeb, the prior General Secretary of the GEA, for over 30 years of ministry leading and developing the German Evangelical Alliance.
The next General Assembly will take place in 2020 in Albania.