The Inter-European Division Holds Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Advisory

Inter-European Division

The Inter-European Division Holds Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Advisory

EUD PARL leaders gather for training and support during the 2024 advisory meetings.

Ministries | Brussels | Andreas Mazza, EUDNews

The Inter-European Division (EUD) Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) Advisory took place in Brussels, Belgium, from March 18 to 21, 2024, at the permanent office of the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty (AIDLR). The event was organized by the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) Department of the EUD, gathering the EUD PARL leaders and AIDLR secretary-generals for training and engaging with the Brussels religious liberty community.

PARL leaders from throughout the EUD were present. The meeting was enriched by the presence of Ganoune Diop, PARL director at the General Conference (GC) of Seventh-day Adventists, and Nelu Burcea, GC PARL associate director, who presented the foundational principles, vision, and strategy of PARL work and its contribution to the Church’s mission. The event also hosted John Graz, the former PARL world director, current director of the CILRAP study center in Collonges, France, and AIDLR permanent representative to United Nations in Geneva. He presented how to find, train, and be a Church ambassador. Barna Magyarosi, EUD executive secretary, was the representative of the administration, as well as the person responsible for the devotionals, and a chaplain assigned to meeting, assisting and supporting leaders at their request. The devotionals were based on lessons from the Old Testament about service and leadership and focused on the experiences of Saul, Baruch, and Moses.

The event was introduced by Paulo Macedo, EUD PARL director, who wanted to specify the objectives of the PARL Department of the EUD, namely, to organize regional events, inform, train, support, and represent the national teams at the European level. Advisory meetings are an important moment for creating collaboration and synergies between national PARL leaders.

Diop gave an overview of the history and objectives of the PARL Department, since its inception in 1901. The main objectives of this important department are, therefore, to protect the good name and image of the Church, to interface between church and state, and, finally, to manage legislative cases involving the Church in the public sphere. “It is absolutely necessary not to isolate ourselves as a church. We must combat misinformation involving our Church and protect ourselves from the prejudices that surround us. The credibility of our Church is at stake,” Diop stated.

Burcea described the work and goals of the Church within this important global institution: “My role is to generate strategic contacts within the United Nations and to protect the image of the Church in the international context.” At the end of his presentation, Burcea showed and distributed an official Press Dossier of the Church that he developed.

Graz focused on the role of PARL directors of the Adventist Church: “You are ambassadors, and your department can be identified in some way with a national Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You represent the Church, not yourselves, and you have the duty to protect the image and interests of your church.”

“Build a network of local ambassadors,” advised Graz, “educating them as future leadership, and always try to build bridges with your interlocutors ... Take care of your image.” “Study the protocols and procedures well, look after your moral integrity, and be humble. Be steadfast, loyal, and faithful, and always give the glory to God!,” he concluded.

One of the Advisory's welcome guests was Ian Sweeney, Trans-European Division (TED) PARL director. Sweeney gave an overview of the challenges his division is facing within its member states.

Another high point was represented by the speech of Prof. Stefan Höschele, professor for Systematic Theology and Adventist Studies at Friedensau University. Höschele presented his book “Adventist Interchurch Relations”, explaining the history of interreligious dialogue of the Adventist Church since its birth and differentiating it from the various levels of existing ecumenism. “The Adventist Church's interreligious dialogue has always been based on its mission, never on the desire to build new structures or organizations for their own sake,” he said.

During the meeting, all the PARL Leaders of the EUD territory had the opportunity to present a work report from within their country, describing the challenges, opportunities, and prospects linked to their work. The comparison with other colleagues allowed them to broaden their vision and find new solutions.

The participants in the meeting were spiritually accompanied by a special chaplain, Barna Magyarosi, EUD executive secretary. Each morning, Magyarosi began the committee with a spiritual message focused on the work of public affairs. “Since you work in the sphere of political power, and since you meet powerful people, be careful to resist the allure of power. Many men chosen by God began their journey with humility and ended their role with arrogance,” explained Magyarosi. “The deepest challenge is to always let God's will prevail over one's own. When you confuse your will with that of God, then you begin to lose your way.”

“Do not justify your mistakes, but repent of your mistakes,” continued Magyarosi, “and never lose sight of the fact that you are totally dependent on God. Give preference to faithfulness over success,” concluded Magyarosi.

The participants also had the opportunity to visit the European Parliament, learning more about its structure, history, function, and work, and to engage with several key agents of the European institutions in AIDLR meetings.

“This Advisory was important because it revealed to all participants the fact that they are not alone in the work, but that they can count on the collaboration of their national, regional, and global colleagues,” said Macedo. “We have among us, not only experts in the religious and institutional fields, but also experts in law, communicators, etc. Together, we can face the many challenges that come our way. Our vision is to form a single synergistic force together,” concluded Macedo.

The EUD PARL team is composed by Paulo Macedo, Mercedes Fernandez, and Andreas Mazza.

The original article was published on the Inter-European Division website.