Ecumenical Bulletin 41 – Summer 2017

Dear Readers,

Bulletin 41 PDF

One might often ask whether the church should be interested in politics. We believe it definitely should. We must not be indifferent to the injustice and wrong we see happening in the world around us and neither should we ignore who is in charge of governing our country, whether these leaders are behaving morally in their positions, and whether their decisions are based on seeking the good of their country and citizens rather than seeking their own benefit.  Dirty politics, people say, but that is not the way we should approach it (even though it is obviously prone to corruption and other issues). Politics is the administration of public affairs and that is something we certainly shouldn’t stay away from – precisely because we are Christians.

The statement of the ECCB’s Synod concerning the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in the Czech Republic, which you will find in this edition of the Bulletin, addresses this very issue. It is a general statement which, however, clearly proclaims that our church cares about the way our country is governed and who is to be in charge for the years to come.

I would also like to draw your attention to an extensive interview with a long-standing worker of the ECCB’s Central Church Office that many of you will know personally. Gerhard Frey-Reininghaus retired in April, but he is definitely not planning to sit idly in the corner.

Many will be interested in hearing about the latest developments at our Diaconia. You will hopefully be amused and pleased to read our slightly unusual statue story from the Diaconia’s centre in Litoměřice – a story with a good ending.

The next edition of the Bulletin will be published during the Advent. Until then, we wish you peace and hope in all you pursue, may your time be filled with meaningful events and activities.

Jana_PliskovaOn behalf of the Editorial Board,

Jana Plíšková

2016 Was a Successful Year for the ECCB’s Diaconia

The Diaconia is growing. Its centres and schools are currently running over 130 facilities all over the Czech Republic. It employs more than 2000 people; its schools and kindergartens are attended by 423 children and students. The Diaconia’s Academy, which offers training courses for social service workers, is also getting on well. The courses are designated not only for employees of the Diaconia, but also for other social service providers. At the moment, the Academy is offering 50 educational topics and is the only provider on the market to offer long-term (6-month) training for social service managers, for workers caring for clients with dementia or for assistants to intellectually disabled and autistic clients. Continue reading 2016 Was a Successful Year for the ECCB’s Diaconia

Working on Ecumenical Activities Broadens Your Horizons. An Interview with Gerhard Frey-Reininghaus

The original intention of spending two years in Prague changed a bit as time passed

DSC_0402Gerhard Frey-Reininghaus (*1951) grew up in a family of four children in the Württemberg region in the South of Germany. After graduating from high school, he spent a year in the United States, obtained a Master’s degree in theology and worked as a pastor in Köngen near Stuttgart for eleven years. In 1990, he arrived in Prague, first for a two-year scholarship at the Protestant Theological Faculty, but he received an offer to work for the ECCB’s Central Church Office. He is retiring after more than twenty years of work as Head of the Ecumenical Department and Head of the External Relations Section. Continue reading Working on Ecumenical Activities Broadens Your Horizons. An Interview with Gerhard Frey-Reininghaus

A Word of the Synod of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren Concerning the Upcoming Elections

We will soon be facing two difficult elections in the Czech Republic. In the autumn, Czechs will be electing Members of the Parliament, and a President is to be elected in early 2018.

We have been living in political freedom for nearly 30 years now, but there is generally very little trust in political parties and politicians. We believe that striving to improve the administration of public affairs and engaging in civic activities is well worth the trouble. We do not want to give up responsibility for public affairs. As citizens, we should do our best to get to know those who are competing for public offices, familiarise ourselves with their political platforms as well as their previous activities, in order to be able to make a wise decision on whom to trust.

DSC_0136Christianity is not a political platform. The following call is not connected with any political party, it is only based on respect for the basic values of human co-existence. In making an electoral decision, we should support candidates from whom we expect that in their position, they will: Continue reading A Word of the Synod of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren Concerning the Upcoming Elections

Theologians from Prague in the Holy Land

On 6 May 2017 Prof. Martin Prudký and Dr. Filip Čapek, together with a group of eight students from the Protestant Theological Faculty in Prague, set off for Jerusalem in the Holy Land, where they stayed till 20 May. The reason for the trip was an invitation from Yuval Gadot, Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, to participate in the “Ancient Jerusalem Excavation project” in Zone E in the City of David, situated to the southeast of what is today the Old City of Jerusalem. Under the supervision of Helena Roth, Gadot’s assistant, and Johann Regev, an expert on radiocarbon dating, the group, together with other archaeology enthusiasts, worked on exposing materials such as ash, bones, olive pits, and ceramic shards, from as many different levels of sediment as possible, in order for them to be analysed later in the laboratory. The academic background to the project was the attempt to draw up a complete chronology of Jerusalem as a basis for dating further historical events and finds. The primary focus, according to Gadot, is on the Iron Age (11th – 7th century BCE), so that the excavations concentrated on the sediment layers from this period. At the end of the two weeks we spent working on the project we had discovered more material than we had expected, and so further excavations will take place on the same site in July in order to secure more material and to construct a complete chronological picture. In addition, Gadot plans to visit Prague next year in order to present the results of the excavations. It will be interesting to see what archaeological discoveries about Jerusalem the work of the delegation from Prague has contributed to. Continue reading Theologians from Prague in the Holy Land

Professor Petr Pokorný from the Prague Theology Faculty receives prestigious award Donatio Universitatis Carolinae

In October 2016 the Rector of Charles University announced a prestigious new award, the Donatio Universitatis Carolinæ, to be awarded to leading researchers who have made an exceptional contribution to the international specialist prestige of the University. The award is accompanied by a grant of one million Czech crowns to support the research interests of the prize-winner.

KarolinumIn 2017 five researchers were chosen by an international advisory council to receive the award from among candidates submitted by the 17 faculties of Charles University. One of these initial five recipients, who received the award from the Rector at a solemn assembly on 6 April 2017 to mark the anniversary of the founding of Charles University, was Professor Petr Pokorný from the Protestant Theology Faculty.

Prof Petr PokornyPokorný has been an internationally recognised scholar in the field of New Testament studies for several decades. He is a member of a number of leading Czech and international scholarly associations. As long ago as the 1970s he was a member of the translation team responsible for the Czech Ecumenical Translation of the Bible, chairing the New Testament group. The award of the Donatio is recognition of his specialist research in fields such as Coptic Gnostic literature, the history of the Synoptic Gospel materials and the deutero-Pauline epistles, and the hermeneutics of the Bible. The financial support will help further his current research projects, in particular the series of publications entitled The Czech Ecumenical Commentary on the New Testament and historical research into Jesus of Nazareth.

UK in the UK: Charles University (Univerzita Karlova) visits the United Kingdom

Charles University is one of the oldest universities in the world. It has survived because it has been able to adapt, and this is what it continues to try to do today. One important element of this is international cooperation, and the university is making huge efforts to form partnerships across the world.

With this aim in mind, a group of 25 people from various faculties of the university, led by the Rector and his team, travelled in April to the United Kingdom. The theological faculties were well represented, with three members of the Protestant Theological Faculty, the Vice-Dean for International Relations, Dr Jan Roskovec, along with Associate Professor Pavel Hošek and Associate Professor Tim Noble, and two colleagues from the Catholic Theological Faculty, Dr Martin Kočí and Dr František Štěch. Continue reading UK in the UK: Charles University (Univerzita Karlova) visits the United Kingdom

The Tireless Seventy-Year-Old Standing at His Watch. The PRO ECCLESIA Decoration Awarded to Jaroslav Kalousek

The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren maintains long-term relationships with communities of compatriots who have managed to keep their protestant faith as well as the Czech language (at least to a certain extent) alive despite the distance and the years they have spent abroad.  It would be impossible to name all the key personalities of the local congregations, but to mention at least some of the people I am grateful for: the late Mr and Mrs Hájek from Veliko Središte in Serbia and the deceased brother Josef Jančík from Bohemka in Ukraine, who passed on his responsibility for the congregation to Ludmila Sverdlová in his elderly years; Marie Provazníková from Veselynivka in Ukraine, Zdenka Pagáčová from Bjeliševec in Croatia, Karel Pospíšil and Věra Pospíšilová from Zelów in Poland – all these people have been absolutely essential in keeping their congregations alive and running. Continue reading The Tireless Seventy-Year-Old Standing at His Watch. The PRO ECCLESIA Decoration Awarded to Jaroslav Kalousek

It is Definitely Worth It! On Diaconal and Development Projects with Vladimír Zikmund

úvodníFor several centuries, churches were dependent on the state budget by decision of the government. The situation lasted even after the fall of the communist regime in 1989. No major change occurred until a few years ago: in 2012, the Church Restitution Act (the Act on Property Settlement with Churches and Religious Societies) was passed and churches entered a new period of gradually gaining financial independence – state contributions decrease every year and will cease altogether in 2030.

The process is outweighed by compensations from the state: the ECCB is to receive a sum of CZK 2.26 billion by 2043 to compensate for the property that the socialist regime took away from the church. Starting in  2017,some  of these funds will  be distributed to development  projects of the Diaconia , based on a grant system. In the following interview, the Synodal Curator, Vladimír Zikmund, describes how things are going at the moment.   Continue reading It is Definitely Worth It! On Diaconal and Development Projects with Vladimír Zikmund