Ecumenical Flash

This contribution was written by Xander van Asperen 

Holy Trinity Church is an active member of the USRK, the Utrecht Council of Churches. In the USRK churches work together on different matters. Activities range from pastoral care in disaster situations, financing Ecumenical services in care centres for the elderly to organising the week of prayer in January and a lot more.
Sharing ideas and information between churches is also important. The USRK meets four times per year, each time in a different member church.

In regular Ecumenical flashes in the newsletter I hope to keep you informed about the Ecumenical world in Utrecht and beyond.

On June 20th the USRK met in the RC parish Licht van Christus in Vleuten. Parish Licht van Christus is the whole area that is called Leidsche Rijn and Vleuten-de Meern. It is an ancient parish. Its roots go probably back to the days of the Irish missionary Willebrord, Utrecht’s first bishop.
The parish has two normal churches and a smaller chapel in shopping Centre Vleuterweide.
The parish membership is declining so the option to build a new church in Leidsche Rijn will not be realized. In fact, there are several new church plants in Leidsche Rijn, but not one new church has been build. Most new churches meet in schools restaurants etc.
The parish has 12.000 members. The newsletter is delivered to 4.000 addresses. It is also used for evangelisation purposes.
The parish believes it has a future, due to the influx of new members since it is in a so called ‘new town’. Birth and death figures are in balance, which is quite unusual for a church in Utrecht. In the area there are many expats living, they are often highly educated. The parish is very active on the social media, with a great response.

A delegation from churches and interreli-gious organizations in Utrecht has paid a visit to Kirkuk in Iraq. They were invited by the newly appointed RC bishop of Kirkuk. This is a city of 1.5 million inhabitants plus 600.000 refugees.

 The church has taken up responsibility for a refugee camp of 4.000 refugees. In this camp there is a great need for health services and education.
Bishop Mirkis’s church provides education in schools on an interreligious basis. Both Christian and Muslim feasts are celebrated.  At this moment there are a 700 students. It is financed by sources from all over the world, also from Utrecht, in a miraculous manner. The church also provides housing for the students. Students are not living together by faith, but by profession. Architects live together and so do other professions. The results are interreligious communities in a society divided through faith.

The delegation lived for 24 hours together with the students in one of their houses, which was a moving experience.
The bishop’s work main hope is that young people from different creeds will, by living and working together, come to an understanding and will continue building a peaceful Iraq.
The delegation also visited other places, convents mainly, where people are working for peace quite often in cooperation with the mosques in the area. Bishop’s Mirkis’s initiative is by far not the only peace initiative in Iraq.

The RC parish of Utrecht-west has been collecting money for a long time for the bishop’s work. Their hope is that in future the fundraising for this important peace work will be a joint action with other churches.