15th September, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RESEARCHERS ON DIACONIA DISCUSS THE URGENT CHALLENGES OF CHRISTIAN SOCIAL PRACTICE IN HELSINKI
The 6th biennial conference on research and study of diaconia and Christian social practice officially opened today in Helsinki, attended by nearly 100 participants from more than 15 different countries.
The four-day meeting is being organised by ReDi, International Society for the Research and Study of Diaconia and Christian Social Practise, in collaboration with the Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, Finland, and will focus on urgent current challenges to diaconia and Christian social practice.
This year the core topic is the need for faith communities and churches to re-evaluate practice to operate in multi-faith societies.
In the face of increasing diversity which has a number of causes, there is an urgent need to revisit the basic understanding of diaconia as a field which explicitly involves interdisciplinary dialogue. Changes in politics and culture as well as the impact of mass migration in many areas brings new challenges as does the growing profile of religion in public life. Christian churches and social service providers founded in the Christian faith face the need to respond to growing needs and urgent issues locally, nationally and internationally.
Opening the meeting, Tony Addy, ReDi Chairperson, stated: “Diaconia in Dialogue signals the need for research and innovative practice in the context of increasing diversity as a result of migration, the refugee crisis in different regions and increasing marginalisation. The delegates from Europe and the global south will focus on the issues of community practice and the increasing diversity of faith based actors in the work for social care and social change. The question of new understanding of professionalism is foremost in the discussions as is the need for innovative learning.”
In her welcoming message, Bishop of Helsinki, Irja Askola, said: “This word is a powerful, yet a sensitive word. Diaconia is a welcoming possibility! Full of surprises. Hostility turns into hospitality, when we dare to say: welcome! “
Following the opening session, participants along with high level speakers, will attend plenaries and workshops in order to think through new models of diaconal practice, spirituality and multiculturalism. ReDi will also elect a new board to guide the work of the network in the next two years and a key issue is the engagement of researchers in the global south.
Antonio La Mantia