I am pleased to write to you about the work of the Soul of Europe. We have had the generous support of over a hundred and fifty people who through encouragement, prayer and donations. So thank you.
Here are brief Updates:
The Twelve Cities Project
The twelve Cities project will be launched in Dortmund in February 2013. The network will be launched to interrupt the ugly phenomenon of Islamophobia, part of the landscape of mainstream European politics. Racism is endemic. So, challenging Islamophobia goes well beyond inter-religious dialogue important as that is. From London we hope Young Muslim Voices will be present at Dortmund.
The other cities with which we and our German partners the Soest Forum for Religion and Cultures have contacts are Birmingham, Paris, Vienna, Cologne, Oslo, Copenhagen, Tiblisi, Amsterdam, Malmo, Granada and Marl in Germany’s Ruhr Gebiet.
There will be a preliminary meeting of members of this network in London hosted by City Circle in London on February 3rd. Our intention is to attract Muslims and non Muslims between 18 and 24.
I had an unsatisfactory visit to Kosovo. The British Embassy had gone to much trouble in fixing up a meeting with the Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Kosovo. When I arrived in Pristina I was told the bishop could not meet us. I had spent many weeks in preparation for this meeting. I will spare you the details, except to say that eventually the Ambassador tracked down the bishop who gave us his support for the mediation process we have been invited to establish between the monasteries at Pec and Decani and local Kosovo Albanians. We now wait to hear from the abbot at Decani.
I am in conversation with Mark Owen, Director of the Centre of Religions for Reconciliation and Peace at Winchester University with a view to being offered an honorary Research Fellowship.
This will provide a perch for the Soul of Europe to share its experience of peace-building.
Bach & Peacebuilding
Presentations I have given in Lisbon and Crediton have been well received. ‘Brilliant concept’ said one and from another: ‘I was very moved by your inspiring talk/recital/.’ If there is a Church near you who might be interested to know more please let me know. – I do not charge but invite donations for the Soul of Europe.
Peter Pelz is working on the third of his published books on our work in the Balkans – to be called Dust, and is an account of all our efforts over eleven years in Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo as well as visits across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
I am sometimes asked if the Soul of Europe has been ‘successful’. Difficult to answer. In Doha where for the fourth year running I was a speaker at the Annual Conference of the Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue. I met Mustafa Ceric the Grand Mufti of Bosnia. He said he would invite the Soul of Europe to the opening of the reconstructed Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka next year. I think we can say that without our commitment to this project the mosque would not have been rebuilt, as a sign of Muslim/Christian collaboration.
Sometimes we have felt despondent faced with the demand for concrete outcomes with high impact and all that goes with this way of doing things, yet we have always felt that what we did and do is right. It goes with the grain of the universe. I have been encouraged by the words of the murdered Archbishop Oscar Romero:
“The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realising this. This enables us to do something and to do it very well. It maybe incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We are workers, not master builders, ministers not Messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”
The Soul of Europe runs on a modest budget. Neither of us is paid. The funds goes on office material, phone and travelling. In July I wrote to some hundred people and we received £6070. A very big thank you for that support: from three Trusts and a variety of individuals. Whatever you can give is really appreciated. I enclose a form which suggests the best way to do this: either as a one-off gift or as a standing order.
Thank you for reading this. Please let me know if you want any more information about our work. I now twitter, so maybe you could consider ‘following’ me!
This letter comes from us both. Together we wish you all the very best for 2012, and thank you again for your interest.
Donald Reeves and Peter Pelz