Regular Briefing Meetings continue to form the central part of the programme of Faith in Europe (FiE). We usually meet in the Library in Archbishop's House behind St George's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Southwark. We are grateful to Fr Ashley Beck for arranging this facility for us.
The Newsletter Faith in Europe Briefings
Two issues of Faith in Europe Briefings appeared during the year, with summaries of presentations and discussions at Briefing Meetings, reports from events in which FiE members had been involved, reprints of interesting articles and information about recent publications. As usual I would like to remind members of FiE, and indeed anyone who reads Faith in Europe Briefings, that it is a resource for all to use. Please send details to me of news of events and activities in the field of FiE's concern and anything you would like to publicise.
Getting FiE Better Known in Universities
During the year we have been discussing how to get FiE better known to younger people with a concern for Europe, and have decided to target Europe-related departments in universities, and also to identify university chaplains who might help to promote the FiE agenda. Lucian Leustean at the Centre for Europe at Aston University had organised a good conference on the influence and role religion in Europe and the USA which some members of FiE had attended and which had involved students from Aston and elsewhere.
The Faith in Europe Website
The website (http://www.faithineurope.org.uk) has continued to be well visited, but there was no action on the Bulletin Board during the year, and we have decided to close that down. We have also decided to seek professional help in redesigning the website to enhance its use amongst a potential new audience, especially in universities. Meanwhile Robin Blount continues to keep the website up to date. Please send direct to Robin any FiE-related documents or news of your own activities and events which you would like to publicise. The contents of Faith in Europe Briefings are posted there. The website can also carry links to websites of other related organisations, and Robin would welcome any suggestions.
The Faith in Europe Committee
Earlier this year we welcomed Tony Lerman to our Committee as a Jewish representative. From 1979 Tony worked at the Institute of Jewish Affairs (IJA). In 1991 he was appointed its Director, and in 1996 he transformed it into a fully-fledged independent policy think tank, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (IJPR), which devises policy solutions to social, political and cultural problems facing Jews and other minorities in Europe. In December 1999 he left the JPR to become Chief Executive of the Rothschild Foundation (Europe), a grant-making trust supporting Jewish life in Europe. In 2006-09 he returned to the IJPR for a second period as its Director. Tony is a member of many other forums and committees, and founded the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights.
There is a slow attrition of individual members, largely because of age. Some 40 denominations, para-church organisations and ecumenical bodies continue to be members of, or in contact with, FiE; but some corporate members have not renewed their subscriptions, including the Church of Scotland and the Methodist Church: it seems that Europe work is no longer a high priority for them.
Prospects for the Future
The financial situation of FiE continues stable, which means that we can continue with our current programme of Briefing Meetings and continue to circulate Faith in Europe Briefings both in hard copy and, increasingly, in electronic form. The latter will of course save money. An increasing number of members now receive their mailings by email. The 'CAFE Legacy' of just over £1000 is being kept aside in the budget, to be used for specific purposes when appropriate. FiE envisages publishing one-off brochures and special studies, and donations earmarked for publications will be reserved for that purpose. We are always glad to hear suggestions of ways in which the FiE resources could be usefully used. Similarly we are always glad to receive ideas on how the work of FiE can be more widely publicised.
We were sorry to learn of the death in December 2010 of Christopher Cviic, one of the Vice-Presidents of FiE. David Thomas attended a memorial service from him in Westminster Cathedral.
ThanksI would like to thank our Moderator, David Thomas, all members of the Committee and all members of FiE for your continuing support, involvement and enthusiasm.