Budapest, April 2002
In April 2002 a major Hope For Europe congress was held in Budapest, Hungary, attended by 1000 invited evangelical leaders from 38 European countries. Called HOPE.21, it aimed to explore the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ for 21st century Europeans.
HOPE.21 was a “cluster” congress, with some 25 separate consultations taking place simultaneously in a dozen hotels spread across the city. Each of these two-day consultations represented a Hope For Europe network, and explored the meaning of the hope of the gospel in a particular field. (See list of HFE networks).
At the congress opening, dancers weave the HFE logo on stage, depicting networks and partnership.
The goals of HOPE.21 were to:
• Evaluate honestly Europe’s spiritual situation at the start of the 21st century;
• Articulate the hope of the gospel for contemporary Europeans;
• Promote networks across national borders;
• Encourage partnerships within nations and regions;
• Highlight models of local, regional and national strategies;
• Reconsider Europe’s place in today’s world;
• Impart a fresh sense of vision, hope and responsibility towards shaping Europe’s future.
Each evening, congress participants gathered in the impressive Budapest Congress Centre for plenary sessions which focused on the larger picture of Europe’s past, present and future, and place in today’s world.
Speakers included Scotsman Stuart McAllister (above) of Ravi Zacharias Ministries International, (one of the initiators of HFE when serving as general secretary of the EEA); Wim Rietkerk, (Holland) chairman of L’Abri International; Elke and Roland Werner of the Jezus Haus, Germany; and Brazilian Valdir Steuernagel, president of World Vision International.
Convenors from each of the networks cooperated each evening to build a large puzzle piece, five metres square, depicting a map of Europe, comprised of smaller puzzle pieces representing each network. By the end of the congress, the one large single puzzle piece symbolised the question confronting participants of Europe’s place in today’s world.
On the closing day of the congress, the participants gathered in their national groups for the first time, to share insights from the network consultations, and to begin planning for strategic engagement upon their return to their home countries.
Several individuals and projects were presented HOPE Awards for their contribution to promoting partnership and gospel-based hope in various fields. These included:
• Sir Fred Catherwood, former vice-president of the European Parliament;
• Elizabeth Mittlestaedt, founder and editor of Lydia, a women’s magazine widely distributed in several languages in Central Europe and initiator of the HFE Women in Leadership network. HFE chairman presents a HOPE Award to representatives of the Women in Leadership network
The Pavilion of Hope project, in which the YMCA, the Evangelical Alliance and World Vision in Germany partnered to produce a stunning exhibition for the EXPO in Hannover in 2001, based on a large whale-shaped complex for gospel pr esentations around the theme of hope;
• The Albanian Evangelical Alliance (VUSH) for exceptional humanitarian service to Kosovan refugees from during the crisis of 1999.
Gordon Showell-Rogers, director of HOPE.21, presents a HOPE Award to the Albanian Evangelical Alliance.
In the closing session of HOPE.21, a congress statement called Budapest Perspectives was presented summarising main emphases of the congress and offering guidelines for strategic and cooperative action.