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