The inaugural State of Europe YOUTH FORUM was held in Athens from May 7-11 and included participation in the State of Europe Forum.
The Youth Forum targeted 20 to 30 (something) year-old Europeans interested in engagement in public life through politics, law, journalism, social activism, justice issues, business, economics, the arts, education etc. Participants were formed into teams to process the forum themes together and to produce consensus statements at the forum’s end.
The Youth Forum was partnered by the ECPYN (European Christian Political Youth Network), the Schuman Centre for European Studies/YWAM, 24/7 prayer movement, and the EEA (The European Evangelical Alliance) among others.
A welcome dinner and an orientation evening at the Cosmovision Conference Centre at Koropi (near the airport),was followed the next morning by a trip to the ancient ruins of Corinth. The tour gave time to get to know each other, and time with mentors, as well as offering exceptional backgound understanding to Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.
Returning to the city centre of Athens, participants continued to interact in their groups and after dinner met for the opening public meeting of the State of Europe Forum at the Old Parliament Building. The metro brought us back together to the Cosmovision Conference Centre after the meeting.
Friday, May 9: The next morning, we returned to Athens to join the other forum participants for the Bible study on Acts 17, with Dr George Adam, on the very spot where Paul gave his famous Mars Hill address. This study laid key foundations for the themes of the forum: solidarity, democracy, migration, freedom of conscience and religion, economics and hope.
Back in the Electra Palace Hotel in Plaka,
Back in the Electra Palace Hotel in Plaka, the first plenary session set the context for the forum, as Jeff Fountain explained what Robert Schuman meant by the ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ of Europe, and Dr Vassiliadis continued on spirituality and politics in Europe today.
Working group leaders gave introductions to the following themes:
• Towards a just, sustainable and relational economics
• Migration – whose responsibility?
• Solidarity, patriotism and nationalism
• From Athens to Brussels – how democratic is Europe?
• Safeguarding freedom of religion and conscience
The afternoon working sessions lead to formulation of consensus statements on each theme which were later included in the Athens Affirmation, a summary statement of the forum for ongoing application.
A 45 minute plenary discussion on responding relationally to the Ukraine crisis, facilitated by Jonathan Tame and Philip Powell of the Jubilee Centre in Cambridge led to lively discussion, before the closing address was brought by His Eminence Ignatios, Metropolitan of Demetrias and Almyros, on ‘Christianity and Europe’.
Saturday, May 10, was spent back at the Cosmovision Centre in working sessions, processing the experience of the forum the day before, with mentors from the forum facilitating the discussion groups. Time was spent in writing up conclusions.
Sunday morning, May 11, began with worship and devotions, and a final session to present the group proposals, bringing the Youth Forum to a close.
The Forum Report and separate papers can be downloaded here.
The 2015 Youth Forum is planned for Riga, Latvia, May 7-10.