Embracing change – Fresh perspectives
For four days, women leaders from 20 European countries gathered in Sarajevo to learn, discuss and network with one another.
When we chose this theme for our bi-annual conference of “Women in Leadership” in the “Hope for Europe” network, we had no idea what changes Europe would be going through in the year 2023. Now, we see that the topic of “Embracing Change – Fresh Perspectives” was right on target.
For four days, June 7-11 2023, 64 women from 20 countries gathered in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. As Christian leaders in our respective countries and ministries, we came to learn, discuss and network with one another. Also, we were eager to hear and see how our host country is doing now, over 20 years after the terrible war in the 1990s.
We had chosen Hotel Hills for our meetings, as the European Evangelical Alliance had held the meeting of all “Hope for Europe” networks there in October 2022.
Our topics in the plenary meetings and in the seminars were manifold. We heard and spoke about resilience, emotional intelligence, marriage, time management, prosperity, overcoming loneliness, changes in Europe, Jesus giving women fresh perspectives, trans-gender Trends in young people etc.
Our speakers came from eleven countries, among them Usha Reifsnider – regional director of Lausanne Europe and Amanda Jackson – former director of the Women’s Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), plus Dr. Jenn Williamson from France, Kristina Ecis from Latvia, Gail Stathis from Greece, Olga Boldireva from Moldowa and many more.
Great times of prayer and worship helped us to focus on God, who alone brings hope to Europe! As it is our tradition since the beginning, we invite women from our host-country to join us on the last day. So, about 50 women from Bosnia came and joined us for the Saturday, and were inspired and encouraged in their personal journey of faith.
The history of our women’s network
Around the time when the Iron Curtain came down, the Lausanne Movement and the Evangelical Alliance got together and formed: “Hope for Europe”, in order to work together in the countries that were opening up at that time.
These bi-annual conferences continued until today and were later led by Romkje Fountain (NL) and Hannelore Illgen (Germany), and are now led by Elke Werner (Germany).
The leadership team consists of 11 women from 8 countries. We are now affiliated with the European Evangelical Alliance and are also the European partner in the WEA Women’s Commission.
The track focusing on “Women in Leadership” was started in 1993 under the umbrella of Hope for Europe by Elisabeth Mittelstädt, who then was the publisher of Christian Women’s Magazines in several European countries.
We do not know yet, where our next conference – planned for 2025 – will take place, but the feedback from our participants (most of them for the first time at one of our conferences, many under the age of 50) shows, how much these meetings are appreciated and needed.
We love to connect leaders, young and old, to encourage the church in Europe. So many issues and topics affect us all the same way, no matter whether we live in West- or East, South- or North Europe.
And it helps to listen, to pray and do be informed about what is going on in other parts of Europe.
Together, as women in leadership in Europe, we want to share the hope of Jesus for our world, and especially for our continent.
Elke Werner, Chair of Hope for Europe-Women in Leadership