Swiss Diaconal Conference begins its work

The first plenary session of the newly founded Swiss Diaconal Conference has elected its executive committee and launched four working groups. The website is slated to go online in July.

Around 30 delegates from the churches of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) met on January 24 for the constitutive plenary session of the Swiss Diaconal Conference in Bern.

As FSPC Council Member Daniel Reuter expressed it in his opening address: The Swiss Diaconal Conference is “full of wise approaches – saving resources, creating synergies, and learning from one another.” The project, he added, could thus set an example for similar initiatives.

As the diaconal managerial director Simon Hofstetter explained, the plenary meeting, which is to meet three or four times a year, will serve as a sort of church counterpart to the cantonal Social Director Conference. A committee is responsible for management, with Bernhard Egg (Zurich), Barbara Hefti (Glarus), Claudia Hubacher (Bern-Jura-Solothurn), and Beat Maurer (Aargau) elected by the plenary for a four-year term.

Further members will be chosen from four working groups, which will begin their work towards the middle of the year. A president will also be selected for the committee.

The four working groups will work on the topics of “Training and Education”, “Projects and Practice”, “Foundations and Research”, and “Churches and Agencies”. Their members are being appointed by the committee at a meeting on February 20, 2017.

The staff of the Swiss Diaconal Conference, provided by the FSPC was introduced at the meeting: Simon Hofstetter, managing director; Anja Scheuzger, administrative assistance; Anne Durrer, French-langauge communications; Thomas Flügge, German-language communcations.

The bilingual diaconal portal will be launched in July 2017, oriented in particular toward those active in diaconal professions. In addition to news, topics, and discussions, the portal will gather information on diaconal projects from different cantons and regions and provide links to contact partners for questions involving training and education.

The newly founded FSPC conference combines the National Diaconal Conference, the Swiss German Diaconal Conference, and the Internet project, all under the aegis of the FSPC. The new conference will support the exchange of information on diaconal projects within congregations, promote dialogue with diaconal research institutions and networks, and will establish standards in diaconal training. The goal of the project is to provide diaconal service from a single combined source in the future.