CEEAMS – Green pastures? Human Mobility and Christian Communities in Central and Eastern Europe

The Central and Eastern European Association for Mission Studies (CEEAMS) is pleased to invite you to the conference

Green pastures? Human Mobility and Christian Communities in Central and Eastern Europe

After the fall of the Communist system, migration experiences in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) intensified and diversified. During Communist times emigration existed in forms of political asylum-seeking or through creative ways to reach the so-called West. Also exchange studentships to befriended countries were some of the variations of migration. While the opening of the political borders after the “changes” in 1989/1990 did generate migration from CEE to mainly Western Europe and North America, migration to CEE through people
such as missionaries, international investors, tourists, small entrepreneurs, labor migration, students, professionals had a significant impact on community formation. Typical to these migrations was that it included people from all over the world, from west and north and east and south. Since most of the post-communist countries did not have well-developed migration policies, CEE became an intently diverse field where people of all sorts with a variety of aspirations arrived and left. The “Yugoslav Wars” challenged some of the Balkan countries to experiment with asylum-seeking and refugee services.

Another significant event regarding migration experiences in CEE was the enlargement of the European Union with new, former communist member states. This resulted in substantial labor migration from CEE to Western Europe, especially from Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria, but now also from Hungary and other countries. The consequences of the ” Arab Spring”, especially the complex wars in Syria, intensified the refugee question. Next to the cross-border migrations, domestic migration further complicates the processes of transformations in CEE societies. Also the fragility of the internal political situation in a number of CEE countries – with growing right wing tendencies targeting the “foreigner” (read e.g. Roma people, Muslims, and Arab) in their rhetoric – add to these complexities.
Discussions about and responses with immediate action programs (like e.g. building fences etc.) to certain phenomena generated by migration, became part of the daily life at all levels of societies.

Christian communities, churches and other faith communities are part of the above described societies and migration experiences. In their daily service they encounter situations which demand grounded theological-missiological answers, because after all, migration experiences are about human lives and changes in human lives and societies. Missiologists, theologians, and reflective practitioners are challenged to theologically- missiologically reflect on questions about human mobility in this region and their relation to the larger worldwide processes, in order to adequately assist the work of churches, ministers, pastors, and above all church members to find contextually relevant answers. In order to address the issue of human mobility, one needs to dig deeper: it is not sufficient to create Christian discourses about migration by collecting proof verses from the Bible which talk about people on the move, and about the position of strangers. Digging deeper asks for self-reflection: what is going on in Christian communities in terms of migration? What do Christians in this part of the world believe about different aspects of migration and why do they do so? What are the most striking aspects of migration which need theological attention? Continue reading “CEEAMS – Green pastures? Human Mobility and Christian Communities in Central and Eastern Europe”