Contributor profiles

Contributors to the State of Europe Forum 2022

Gerard Kelly is poet, author and pastor with French and Irish roots and has lived in England, Ireland, Canada, France and the Netherlands. He and his wife Chrissie presently lead The Bless Network ( His books explore themes of theology, mission and spirituality in contemporary culture. Gerard holds a Masters Degree in Evangelism Studies from the University of Sheffield and was research staff member of King’s College, London and taught at Redcliffe College in Gloucester. He was for 4 years the Senior Pastor of Crossroads International Church in Amsterdam. His poetry has been used on BBC Radio and Television.
Ineta Lansdowne recently completed her master studies in Theology and World Religions at the University of Latvia and works at the Occupation Museum. Sheworked in missions and community development in Southeast Asia from 2004-2016 before completing a course in Reconciliation and Justice Studies in England. Her focus is on international and interfaith relations in the global and European context. She has participated in various peace building projects in England, Latvia, Thailand, Myanmar. She also writes a weekly blog in Riga.
Katharina Kunter is professor of church history at the University of Helsinki theology department. She is author of 500 Protestantisme – de geschiedenis of the Reformatie. Her work focuses on the political and cultural formations of European Christianity in the 20th and 21th century. Where was its place between the two world wars and the Cold War on one side, and the pacification of European societies and the unification of Europe on the other side? How was Christianity inventing the 1960s, how were churches acting as humanitarian agencies after 1945 and how did they slowly accept human rights as an independent socio-ethical Christian norm?
Mari Blaj directs the activities of the Schuman Centre in Iasi, Romania. Sheearned her doctorate cum laude on René Girard’s mimetic theory. She also holds a degree in Linguistics from the Faculty of Letters and a masters in Mediterranean Culture and Civilization at the Faculty of History, State Univ. of Iasi. She studied Christian Worldview at the College of Humanities and Intl Studies, Univ. of the Nations, and teaches causes of poverty and introduction to biblical worldview. She served in humanitarian projects in Mali and Tanzania.
Jeff Fountain (NL), director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies. Originally from New Zealand, he has lived with his Dutch wife Romkje sine 1975 in the Netherlands. For the last five years tey have lived in the hart of Amsterdam. A journalist with degrees in history and European studies, Jeff has travelled extensively across Europe, speaking in almost every European nation. He was for 20 years director of Youth With A Mission in Europe, and chairman of the Hope for Europe Round Table forover a decade until 2015.
Caroline Bretonès is pastor of the Temple du Marais. With a German Proestant mother and a Spanish Catholic father, she became an ordained minister at the age of 27. A mother of three, she has been one of the pastors of this church since 2010, describing herself as ‘Lutheran Reformed with evangelical, even charismatic sensibility’. She is responsible for the supervision of worship, ministries of praise and spiritual accompaniment, diakonia (solidarity) and external relations.
Leonardo de Chirico (I) is the Director of the Reformanda Initiative, lecturer in Historical Theology at IFED, and a Pastor in the Evangelical Reformed Baptist Churches of Italy. He holds degrees in history and theology, a post-doctoral diploma in Bioethics, and a PhD in theology from King’s College London. His books include EvangelicalTheological Perspectives on Post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism (Peter Lang), A Christian’s Pocket Guide to the Papacy and A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary (both Christian Focus). He writes regularly for The Gospel Coalition and other outlets.
Julia Doxat-Purser (UK), is the European Evangelical Alliance’s socio-political & religious liberty representative. She co-convenes the European Religious Liberty Forum with Advocates Europe, developing the European Freedom Network, linking agencies working on human trafficking. Julia also works with theWorld Evangelical Alliance on religious liberty, human trafficking and political engagement training. Married to Alistair, and lives in Bournemouth, England.
Clemens van den Berg recently defended his PhD thesis at the University of Utrecht on ‘European Believers. Ecumenical Networks and Their Blueprints as Drivers of Early European Integration, 1933-1954’. He is Educator of Religion and Citizenship (College of Education) at the Christelijke Hogeschool Ede in the Netherlands
Ben Richards has a PhD in Himalayan paleoclimate. He is keen to help Christians understand climate change within wider issues and our Faith. He explores how God’s original design of caring for creation can help people navigate eco-anxiety – especially the young – and proceed with appropriate hope and purpose. Ben co-founded “Climate Intercessors” and while an official UN Observer in the 2021 Glasgow climate talks he coordinated prayer information to thousands around the world. He is co-pioneering YWAM Paisley’s emerging “Creation Care Hub”.
Dr. Marietta van der Tol joined the Blavatnik school of government in 2020, where she leads the international networking collaboration ‘Religion, ethnicity and politics in German, Dutch and Anglo-American contexts: nationalism and the future of democracy’ as well as the Oxbridge project ‘Protestant political thought: religion, state, nation’. Her research interests include the relationship between religion, politics and society, and the role that political imaginaries play in the formation of law and public policy with regard to religious minorities in Europe.
Rev. Dr Gary Wilton was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the EU and Canon of the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity, Brussels, and now resides in Sheffield where he is head of training for the Church Army. He also was vicar of an Anglican parish in Brittany, and has been Visiting Programme Director of Wilton Park. He has contributed chapters to ‘God and the EU’ and “After-Brexit – European Unity and the unity of European Churches.
Evert Van de Poll is retiring professor of religious studies and missiology at the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven (Belgium) and senior researcher with the Schuman Centre, regularly teaching in the Summer School of European Studies. Originally from the Netherlands, he and his wife Janna live in Nîmes (France) where they pastor a congeregation of the French Baptist Federation. He has written numerous books, including Christian Faith and the making of Europe. He is also ‘organiste titulaire du Grand Temple à Nîmes’.
Christel Ngnambi is a political consultant in strategic communication and political communication who served for 12 years as the Brussels Representative of the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA). A Belgian of Cameroonian origin, he studied political science and international relations (Saint-Louis University, Brussels and the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL)). Engaging in issues including human rights, poverty, migration and the environment, he continues to cross the themes of ideas and convictions, social issues, political issues and existential questions. Christel creates podcasts and videos for Imago Dei.
Arie de Pater is the Brussels representative of the EEA. He has worked as an advocate for Freedom of Religion and Belief, both at national and international level, for 12 years as Advocacy Director with Open Doors International. While with Open Doors International, he worked with the UN team of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and served the WEA as a member of its Religious Liberty Commission
Henry Vyner-Brooks started his career as a Landscape Architect and property developer but, after recovering from cancer, he is now a novelist, historian, filmmaker, songwriter, and pastor. Centered on the lives of Schuman and Columbanus, Henry’s latest book SAVING EUROPEexplores the impact of Christian social networks and leaders, who helped save the Europe of their day. There now also a travel documentary film series, which was initially inspired by the things Henry learnt at the 2012 State of Europe forum. (More at Current projects: The Renaissance Trilogy: 2022 release of two prequels to his acclaimed 2014 novel of ideas: THE HERETIC
Michael Schluter has a PhD in agricultural economics from Cornell and worked for the International Food Policy Research Institute and the World Bank while based in East Africa. He has spent many years developing a framework for public policy distinct from both Western liberalism and Socialist collectivism. His previous peacebuilding work was in South Africa (1986-1994), Rwanda after the genocide (1994-1999), Sudan (1999-2004/5) and Ukraine (2015-2017). He has worked on Korean peace issues since 2017.
Roger Mitchell is a postdoctoral honorary research fellow at Lancaster University and jointly coordinates the Lancaster University Social Action Research Group in the Centre for Alternatives to Social and Economic Inequalities. A political theologian with the Westminster Theological Centre, he convenes the module Peace, Reconciliation and the Politics of Jesus, exploring the political implications of kenotic theology. Kenarchy actively seeks out and collaborates with others who desire to enact similarly loving, inclusive politics of peace within the various spheres of society, whatever their faith standpoints.
Philip Powell was born and raised in India and moved to the UK in 1998. He has also lived and worked in The Netherlands and South Africa. He holds a Masters degree in Politics and International Relations and has advocacy experience at the United Nations and the UK Parliament. He is presently the co-director of the Justice Conference, UK and the Theology and Network Engagement Manager (UK) with Tearfund, having previously worked for eight years at the Cambridge-based Christian think tank Jubilee Centre. Philip has a passion for serving as an ecumenical bridge-builder across cultural differences and theological streams.
Trineke Palm is Assistant Professor International Security Studies at Netherlands Defence Academy. She was postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University (2016-2020). In the interdisciplinary research project “Blueprints of Hope: designing post-War Europe” she researched the emergence of the EU as an emotional (security) community from the 1930s-1950s. Her PhD dissertation deals with the question whether the EU’s use of military means since 2003 has changed the EU’s presence in international affairs. Has the EU become a more realist great power like the US, or has it used military means in support of its normative ideals?