It is easy to think that Diaconia has been around for a long time – and indeed, we can trace the origins of our work back to the early days of the Church. However, for some of our members, it has not been possible to carry out diaconal work on an uninterrupted basis due to political restrictions. Our members in Central and Eastern Europe have had that experience and since the early 90s have been rebuilding diaconal work. And what a job they have done! Many of our CEE members are among the leaders in quality, accessible, affordable social care in their countries and are often leading the way with innovative and integrated services. This week the Diaconia of the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren celebrated their 30 anniversary and next week our member in Latvia will celebrate their 25th anniversary. We know that there are more anniversaries to come that deserve celebration.

And celebrate we should do. What has been achieved in a relatively short time has been the result of hard work, partnership with other members around Europe and spiritual inspiration. Yet there are still challenges.  Sustainable financing, recruiting and retaining staff to work in care services, dealing with output focused contracts rather than outcomes and being able to communicate the mission and vision of the organization. Together we are bringing these issues to the attention of policy makers at EU level so that there can be cross EU work on supporting social services in Eastern Europe.

But even with challenges, the development of Diaconia in Central and Eastern Europe is to be celebrated. Thank you to all our members in this region who have struggled yet built organisations that are engaged in advocacy and services, contributing to a Europe that ensures the transformation, empowerment, and reconciliation of people’s lives.

Have a good weekend,