Protestant Churches reaffirm their resolve to help refugees

The refugee crisis in Europe was the main issue debated at the Assembly of Delegates of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) on November 2 and 3, 2015, at Bern City Hall. State Secretary for Migration Mario Gattiker and FSPC Council President Gottfried Locher spoke on the topic of the refugees’ situation. Gattiker stressed the importance of close cooperation between authorities and civil society to deal with the high number of refugees.
Mario Gattiker, State Secretary for Migration; Photo: Thomas Flügge, FSPC

The world is experiencing the worst refugee catastrophe in decades. For this crisis, there are no quick solutions. Much perseverance is needed for the coming years, FSPC President Gottfried Locher stressed in his Council President’s Remarks.  The Bible reminds us that God created women and men in His image, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. “This is a basic tenet of our faith. This is what we stand for. Christ gave us a mission to help,” said Locher.  The FSPC President used the opportunity to thank, on behalf of the Council, all parishes that have been making contributions to help refugees.

As a sign of their commitment to asylum issues, the Delegates approved of a CHF 350,000 contribution to help finance pastoral counseling for asylum seekers at the Federal Centers.

500 years of Reformation: theological challenges

The Head of Theology at the Center for Church Development of the University of Zurich, Christina Aus der Au, outlined theological challenges regarding the upcoming Reformation Jubilee on the example of three Reformers.

Aus der Au will be the first Swiss personality to preside over the German Protestant Church Congress, which will be held in Berlin and Wittenberg in 2017.  In that year, Protestant Churches all across the globe will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his theses, the cornerstone of an extensive Reformation movement that transformed both church and society.

Christina Aus der Au’s entire speech can be found at www.sek.ch (in German).

2016 budget and 2017-2020 financial plan

The Delegates approved the 2016 budget with an expected deficit of CHF 9,898.  The CHF 6.06 million in contributions by the 26 member churches, which have not been changed since 2012, comprise 74 percent of the FSPC’s income.

The submitted 2017-2020 financial plan guarantees the services of the FSPC for its member churches. It earmarks exceptional funds for the Reformation Jubilee until 2018.

Legislative Goals

The Delegates acknowledged the 2015-2018 legislative goals of the Council.  As in the previous legislative period, the six goals are guided by the motto “Being Protestant, Being Church.”

Research study “Sorgt für das Recht” (“Uphold the Right”)

Modern democracy and human rights are difficult siblings. Despite their common roots in modernity, their respective areas of influence and their limits are hotly debated.  How far does the power of the democratic sovereign extend, and to what extent can human rights and the law of nations intrude on national affairs? Without a doubt, human rights need constitutional democracies to be implemented. But is democracy in turn dependent on human rights?

The 2014 Fall Assembly of Delegates had ordered the FSPC Council to create a study as a contribution to the debate. The study “Sorgt für das Recht” (“Uphold the Right”) and the Council’s position on the matter will be published soon.  The Delegates urge the Council to continue its efforts for human rights and international institutions.

Elections in the foundation councils of HEKS and BfA

The Delegates elected Dr. iur. Claude Ruey as president and three other members to the foundation council of HEKS (Swiss Interchurch Aid) for the 2016 – 2019 term of office. In addition, the Assembly of Delegates elected three members of the foundation council BfA (Bread for All). The BfA foundation council will once again be presided over by Jeanne Pestalozzi-Racine.