FSPC founds interdisciplinary expert panel in cooperation with Protestant theology faculties of Switzerland

On November 14, 2014, the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches founded an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional expert panel. It is called Institute for Theology and Ethics (ITE). The 17 members will apply themselves to highlighting aspects of Protestant theological reflection that are relevant for the issues of today’s society.

The new ITE expert panel of the FSPC *

The panel is headed by Peter Schmid, Founding President of the ITE and Vice President of the FSPC Council, and coordinated by Otto Schäfer, the FSPC Senior Officer for Theology and Ethics. The Protestant theology faculties of Switzerland support the ITE expert panel as partners and have delegated one faculty member each to join the committee.

Due to its interdisciplinary character, the ITE also includes seven external members from various academic fields, such as criminal law expert Martin Killias, astrophysicist Arnold Benz or professor of education Andrea Bertschi-Kaufmann. They are joined by four internal members from the ranks of the FSPC Senior Officers.

The first general topic the expert panel will address deals with reading as an indispensable social competence today, but also as a cultural effect of the Reformation. As the founding president explained at the constitutive meeting, this topic was selected by the FSPC Council in anticipation of the 500 years Reformation Jubilee in 2017. Its relevance is also reflected in the topic of the most recent Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) in Dresden: “Communicating the Gospel in a Digital Society.” The participating panel members discussed a number of possible ways to flesh out this general topic, e.g. by focusing on the relationship between reading, education and social integration, on reading the Bible via other cultural media, and on how the world is perceived in the mode of reading.

ITE members delegated by the theological faculties:

- Simon Butticaz, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Lausanne
- François Dermange, Faculty of Theology, University of Geneva
- Torsten Meireis, Faculty of Theology, University of Berne
- Martin Wallraff, Faculty of Theology, University of Basel
- Samuel Vollenweider, Faculty of Theology, University of Zürich

Other external members:

- Béatrice Acklin, Catholic Theologian, Director of Studies at Paulus-Akademie Zurich
- Arnold Benz, Professor emeritus of Astrophysics at ETH Zurich
- Andea Bertschi-Kaufmann, Director of the Institute for Research and Development at Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz
- Martin George, Professor emeritus of Church History, Berne
- Brigitte Hilmer, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Basel
- Martin Killias, Professor of Criminal Law at the University of St. Gallen
- Pascal Moeschler, Zoologist, Conservator at the Geneva Natural History Museum

Founding President:

- Peter Schmid, Vice President of the FSPC Council

Internal members:
- Otto Schäfer, Senior Officer for Theology and Ethics and ITE coordinator
- Martin Hirzel, Senior Officer for Ecumenism and Religious Communities
- Simon Hofstetter, Senior Officer for Law and Society
- Frank Mathwig, Senior Officer for Theology and Ethics

The expert panel will meet three times a year for plenary meetings and will form additional teams to work on specific issues. At least every two years, a plenary meeting will be expanded to include a consultation with experts from the member churches.

*left to right: Frank Mathwig, François Dermange, Béatrice Acklin, Samuel Vollenweider, Martin George, Otto Schäfer, Simon Butticaz, Peter Schmid, Arnold Benz, Pascal Moeschler, Martin Killias, Martin Wallraff and Martin Hirzel.
Not pictured: Torsten Meireis, Andrea Bertschi-Kaufmann, Brigitte Hilmer, Simon Hofstetter