Archive for the ‘Netherlands’ category

Planting, growing & emerging in Europe

December 3, 2010

This post features church plants in two very different European contexts. Oeds Blok is working in Amersfoort as a church planter with the Union of Baptist Churches in the Netherlands. The Incarnate Network is a network of European church planters, based in the UK, that encourages sharing and community learning between church planters. They have a growing collection of video interviews with members of their network and this one features Oeds’s experiences of church planting, the problems he’s encountering, and his plans for the future. See more by following the link.

In Russia, the indigenous mission project (IMP) of the European Baptist Federation is supporting the work of church planters, Stepan and Tamara, in the city of Tula. Stepan leads a planting team with three other members (all female) which currently meets for worship in his home. He comments to the IMP Mission Co-ordinator, Daniel Trusiewicz, that the people of Russia are not as open to the Gospel as they were 10-15 years ago. He says that individual contacts are more likely to lead to growth in the church than are the traditional mass evangelistic meetings.

A similar story is told by Alexy and his team of three co-planters in the Tambov oblast. The church plant currently has 15 members after three years labouring the area and a small building has now been purchased for worship meetings. Despite some opposition to their presence, the small congregation is actively but sensitively involved in mission to the local community.

More information about the IMP programme can be viewed on the website of the EBF.

The old rugged cross: ban or cherish?

September 13, 2010

We’re just working on the October edition of Vista, our quarterly research bulletin. The theme is secularisation and we’ve been researching how the personal or institutional display of a crucifix is increasingly a focus for social policy legislators. It may be too early to predict patterns, but the forthcoming ruling from the European Court of Human Rights may prove important to this whole debate (read more about that below). Our attention to the public displaying of crucifixes follows last quarter’s look at the wearing of Burqas in public. A quick round-up of recent decisions regarding the wearing or displaying of crosses in public  includes:

  • In October 2006 a British Airways check-in worker was banned by her employers from wearing a small crucifix around her neck. Of Egyptian ethnicity, Nadia Eweida, was told by BA that the wearing of all publically visible jewellery was forbidden by the company.
  • In January 2007 Robert Napier School in Gillingham, Kent, ordered a 13 year-old Roman Catholic schoolgirl, Samantha Devine to remove her crucifix at school because it posed a health and safety risk. The school indicated it would be happy with a cross worn in Samantha’s blazer lapel.
  • In December 2008 a Spanish court ruled that it was inappropriate for a state school to display crucifixes in its classrooms. Earlier that year, the Spanish Evangelical Alliance had supported the omission of crucifixes from public ceremonies and a law guaranteeing the religious neutrality of public officials.
  • In November 2009 the European Court of Human Rights, sitting in Strasbourg, ruled that an Italian school’s refusal to remove the crucifix following the request of Finnish-born Italian Soile Lautsi that it be removed from her children’’ classrooms was a ‘violation of parents’ rights’ to educate children in accord with their convictions. The ruling was expected to have repercussions across all 47 Council of Europe member states. Italy appealed the judgement in June 2010 and awaits a final ruling.
  • In April 2010 a British nurse, Shirley Chaplin, lost her appeal to wear a crucifix at work. The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust argued that the cross and necklace she had worn for over 40 years was a health and safety risk. The Trust suggested she wear a lapel pin or cross earrings.
  • In April 2010, a German First Minister, Aygül Őzkan who is of Turkish heritage, , called for a ban on crucifixes in state schools in Lower-Saxony and Germany. She withdrew her suggestions following criticism from members of the ruling CDU to which she belongs.
  • In June 2010 the Spanish Government introduced a draft Law of Freedom of Religion and Conscience which regulates the use of the crucifix, including its removal from public places such as schools, hospitals and council buildings. The Spanish EA interpreted the use of crucifixes in such places as evidence of a ‘confessional state’, something to which they remain opposed.
  • In June 2010 an Amsterdam appeal court ruled that the city’s public transport authority was within its rights to ban an Egyptian-born tram conductor from wearing a crucifix. The judge ruled that the transport authority was correct in imposing a ban on the basis that the crucifix was attached to a necklace, not the fact that it was worn visibly.
  • During August, 2010, in Roman Catholic majority Poland, 80% of respondents in an online poll of 11,000 urged the removal of a cross from the square in front of the Presidential palace commemorating the death of the former President in an air crash.
  • The BBC reported in August 2010 that in Greece, the human-rights NGO, Helsinki Monitor, has urged Greek Courts to remove icons from its chambers and drop the practice of requiring witnesses to swear oaths on the Bible.

We’ll also summarise the reasons for and against displaying crosses in public. If you’d like to receive a copy of Vista by email please contact us at rb@novaresearch.eu or jmemory@redcliffe.org

From the European Parliament

June 8, 2010

Two issues recently brought to our attention by the office of Care for Europe

Elections in the Netherlands and Czech Republic

Voters in the Netherlands go to the polls this Wednesday (9 June) to elect a new Parliament. These elections are being held early because the ruling Christian Democrat/Labour/Christian Union coalition fell apart earlier this year over the stationing of Dutch troops in Afghanistan. According to the polls the right if centre People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) could take as many as half of current Christian Democrat votes and become the largest party, but it will still need coalition partners.

In the Czech Republic, last Sunday’s elections had an unexpected result. Although the Social Democrats did scrape through as the largest party, with only 22.8% of the vote, their position is well below that of the three right of centre parties led by the Civic Democrats (ODS). Both the Christian Democrats and the Greens failed to achieve the 5% threshold necessary for any seats in the parliament.

Prayer: Please pray for wise choices by the Dutch voters, and for both countries an early formation of a coalition government willing to take strong action in the national interest in response to the current financial crisis.

European Parliament Written Declaration on setting up a European early warning system (EWS) for paedophiles and sex offenders

This excellent Written Declaration (No. 29) – the equivalent of a Westminster Early Day Motion – is currently open for signature by MEPs. It is calling for a system to prevent sex offenders escaping surveillance by moving from one European country to another. Please consider contacting you MEP/s to ask them to consider giving this Declaration their support.

Please pray that this declaration will be successful in attracting MEP signatures and achieving concerted European action to protect children.

Source: European Impact Direct (7th June 2010)