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Churches and diaconia in Utrecht to reaffirm the benefits of hospitality in Europe

09-06-2016

The 2016 Eurodiaconia Annual General Meeting officially opened today in Utrecht, the Netherlands, attended by nearly 90 participants representing churches and social service providers from 47 different countries.

The core topic of this three-day meeting is the current nature and experience of hospitality in Europe. This is about how we relate to each other in our local communities, not only to refugees and migrants but also to people facing any sort of social, racial, or economical exclusion.

Opening the meeting, Carla van der Vlist, Eurodiaconia Chairperson, stated: ‘’Diaconal organisations and churches are strong and relevant partners within society when it comes  to people in need, for example, people with debts or migrants struggling to build up a new future in a foreign country.  We are a positive force, willing to share with the less fortunate in Europe. We have gathered together with those people in mind, sharing promising examples of hope, and pushing forward a stimulating agenda for a European society based on human dignity and solidarity.” 

In a welcoming message presented by Christien Bronda, Director for Participation at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, Jetta Klijnsma, Dutch State Secretary, said: “Everyone may need shelter sometimes. At those times, it is nice when someone opens the door for you, and helps you get back on your feet and regain a self-sufficient life.”

Following the opening session, participants will take part in five study visits to social projects run by Kerk in Actie across the Netherlands, in order to deepen their knowledge on the current social situation in the country. The final two days of the meeting will see Eurodiaconia members along with high level speakers, including

Dennis de Jong MEP, attending workshops and plenaries in order to decide the strategy and work plan of the social sector for the coming years, as well as discussing the most pressing social emergencies Europe is facing, and the response of the social sector in a context of blind austerity.  

An official declaration is expected to be issued by Eurodiaconia at the closing session on 10 June, the final day of the Annual General Meeting.

Eurodiaconia is a Europe-wide network of organisations committed to a Europe of solidarity, equality and justice. We currently have 47 members in 32 countries who are churches and NGOs rooted in the Christian faith and working in the tradition of Diaconia.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact me at antonio.lamantia@eurodiaconia.org or Kerk in Actie Press Officer Maurits van Stuijvenberg at M.van.Stuijvenberg@kerkinactie.nl.