EBWU consultation in Crikvenica, Croatia
30th October – 2nd November 2014
Article written by Speranca Tomin, Croatia
As announced in the 2014 summer edition of News & Views, a consultation was held in Crikvenica, Croatia, from 30th October to 2nd November. The consultation gathered around 40 women from around 20 countries of Europe. The agenda for the gathering was to re-assess the role of EBWU and determine the future work of the European Baptist women.
After the greetings of the EBWU president Aniko Ujvari, and the president of Croatian Baptist Women Melanija Ruzicka, the first lecture/reflection was given by Aniko Ujvari about Lydia – the first European Christian. Aniko pointed out how Lydia was an unconventional woman for that time but a very close woman to us today – she was a business woman, she was talented and strong, she traveled. Lydia was a woman who opened her mind, her heart and her home to God, and in that she is a good example for us and for our ministry today. After the session, sisters Margaret Brown and Wies Dijkstra, in a creative way showed us how we are all connected and important in God's work.
Friday's morning session started with a reflection on cultural intelligence (CQ). In a short and on-the-point presentation, Aniko explained cultural intelligence and why it is important for us as women in ministry in today's globalized world. She emphasized the importance of understanding the backgrounds of the women, and people in general, around us, to be able to serve better.
During the second reflection of Friday morning, Ksenija Magda talked about the suffering of women in the world and the need to re-assess traditions concerning women and re-read the Scriptures for better understanding. During this lecture, we got a chance of short group discussions, to raise some questions about the suffering of women in the Church and in the society, and to think about what we can do to ease women’s suffering, both in our own setting and in Europe.
Friday afternoon was a time given to the treasure of EBWU. In five reports we heard personal stories and different needs from different parts of Europe (the statues of single people in France by Fabienne Seguin, the ever growing number of refugees and unrests in Lebanon by Saada Attwi Malky, the devastating effects of the economic crisis in Moldova by Eugenia Podoleanu, the problems of selfsufficiency, decrease of Baptist Chruch membership, and the issue of gender in Germany by Elisabeth Kapsreiter, and the specific needs of women who are in full time ministry to the church, by Dimitrina Oprenova). Participants got a chance to discuss some of the issues (at some points of the consultation, time seemed to be in short supply). We felt a spirit of unity as we recognised how the different issues affected countries regardless of where they are – East or West – and how the same issue created crises and opportunities.
On Saturday morning, in the closing session of the official part of the consultation, we talked about creating a resolution for the future work of EBWU. A group of three women were chosen – Margaret Brown for Western Europe, Lidija Dobutović for Central Europe, and Saada Attwi Malky for Eastern Europe. The presentation of the resolution was followed by a discussion until the text of the Resolution was formed. Afterwards the women had a time to pray for the needs of the continents for the Day of Prayer 2014. Saturday morning sessions ended with a reflection on Deborah by Dimitrina Oprenova. We got to hear about an amazing woman of God, a judge and a prophetess who, even though an authority figure, worked with others in great partnership for the glory of God.
At the end of the consultation these were our conclusions and our challenges for the future:
- There is a need for leaders who are open to minister to Europe (and the world) and not just self-sufficiently concentrate on their own Churches or countries. The challenge is to create and equip international leaders for the unity of Europe.
- Due to the economic crises and wars, there is a huge migration problem around the European continent – these are followed by more problems like human trafficking and other criminal acts. The challenge and opportunity here is to share the Gospel in word and deed, sometimes in the face of the fact that some refugees overextend their welcome.
- There is a need to overcome traditions that are causing suffering to women by re-reading the Scriptures. The challenge is to have courage to challenge traditions and wrong teachings.
- Facing new trends in ethics and facing them head on – such as the issues of gender, the statement that all religions lead equally to God.
- We need to seek unity with each other in both suffering and joy – we need to understand each other, join in prayer together, seek partnership in ministry together with our Christian brothers. We need to stand together in needs and trying times, and fear. We need to strive for Christian unity in situations of conflict and war, and always affirm that our first allegiance is to Christ.
For the very end of the consultation, Croatian women organized a tour of the island of Krk and the city of Rijeka. The tour ended with a traditional Croatian dinner during which we heard a traditional female vocal ansambl Klapa Ucka, a few songs of worship by Rahela Grozdanov from Rijeka, and through the presentation by Sonja Rozner we heard a little bit about Croatia and the work of Baptist women there.