Last week, I was in Riga for a conference on ‘strengthening social protection in the Baltic states’, which Eurodiaconia organised in close cooperation with the Diaconia Centre of the Lutheran Church in Latvia. For two days, we discussed the situation of persons experiencing poverty and social exclusion in the Baltic area, and the methods which Christian-based organisations have at their disposal for making a positive difference.
With poverty rates which are significantly above the EU average, the starting point of the discussions was rather bleak – but the outcomes of the meeting were actually uplifting.
It was inspiring to see a colourful mix of persons from different organisations and denominations committed to overcoming differences and working together. Representatives from catholic and protestant organisations were sitting at the same table as those from orthodox churches and ordained officers from the Salvation Army, united by a common goal to promote social justice on the basis of the Gospel message.
But the event did not only bring together various denominations. It also united actors from the local, national and European level. It sought to demonstrate the complementarity of small-scale projects launched at the local level and overarching policy frameworks initiated by the EU – and why they should both matter to us in our fight against poverty.
At a time where Europe seems to be experiencing increasing fragmentation, last week’s event in Riga reminded me that dialogue and a search for common ground remain pertinent as ever. Regardless of the path which political leaders will choose to follow in the next years, I hope that, within Eurodiaconia, we can continue building bridges in the future.
Have a good weekend,