Epistle of the 2014 Central European Gathering in Vienna
After 4 years in other countries we returned this year to Vienna, Austria for
our 18th Central European Gathering of Friends. We were blessed with the
presence of Friends from Belgium, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Hungary,
Poland, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine, England and Austria.
We are grateful for the financial and spiritual support given by German YM,
Swiss YM, the JRCT, Hampshire & the Islands Area Meeting and EMES as
well as the organizational preparations and hospitality by Jalka and
Johanna Steindl of Vienna.
We really appreciated the freedom afforded by having a program made up
of a large variety of topics with the proximity to Vienna attractions and
simultaneous space to retreat and share among ourselves in small groups.
There were sessions on our considerations on what it means to be a yearly
meeting, we learned and shared first-hand about the crisis in Ukraine which
intertwined meaningfully with what we heard from Alexandra Bosbeer from
QCEA about Quakers and our engagement in European affairs. We are
thankful for her presence as well as that of Julian Wood from EMEYF and
hope that this kind of visitation support can continue. Jalka led a group of
us on the newly established peace trail in Vienna, part of the Discover
Peace in Europe project (www.discoverpeace.eu) which she conceived and
saw through over the past few years. We had a discussion about hospitality
and were enriched by Brian Phillip’s visit and his research about the ethical
struggles of Hans von Dohnanyi and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in their resistance
to Hitler. Zsuzsa Eastland shared with a group her concern to work for
reconciliation in the Carpathian Basin through a children’s summer camp
and felt supported.
As has become a tradition over the past years we enjoyed singing, dancing
(including a tango evening in memoriam for Ivars Abelis of Latvia meeting);
and also - as a first - our self-prepared evening meals. Daily meetings for
worship and an Experiment with Light session deepened our spiritual
fellowship and we are looking forward to our unfolding development over
the coming years.
Signed: Cathy and Arne