Protestant schools: sowing seeds of peace and hope around the world at the WCC Assembly in Karlsruhe

Our GPENreformation member Nathan Krieger, from the Colégio Cônsul Carlos Renaux in Brusque, Brazil, tells you about his time at the Assembly of the WCC in Karlsruhe, at the beginning of September 2022. He also writes about the workshop he did together with five other people from the GPENreformation network about protestant schools as agents for peace and hope:

At the invitation of GPENreformation, the Global Pedagogical Network of Protestant schools, linked to the Protestant Church in Germany, the Synodal Education Network, from Brazil, participated in the organization of a workshop during the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The objective of the workshop was to present the work of partner schools and networks, learn about the different challenges for Protestant education and discuss the differential of Protestant schools in the world.

An audience of approximately 30 people from various countries and continents, with some experience in the field of education, participated in the workshop.

Representing the Synodal Education Network, Professor Nathan Krieger, presented a brief history and overview of the Network. Some challenges were also presented, such as making learning attractive and meaningful, being a Christian in today’s world where religion is confused with fanaticism and corruption, intolerance, social inequality and the need to educate for peace and solidarity.

The highlight, however, was the work carried out in the schools of the Network – social projects and solidarity actions, education with values and respect for life and creation, and work for tolerance and inclusion. In addition, schools were presented as references of quality education, with good results and also, as spaces of mutual care, experience of faith and spirituality, where the Word of God is announced – which, indirectly, constitutes a missionary field.

Representatives from other networks and schools also participated in the organization and brought their challenges and different perspectives.

Representing Tanzania, Fr Anold Nelly reports that the Evangelical Church, through its schools, strives to promote broad and free access to quality education for young people. Faced with a context marked by major challenges, such as social and economic vulnerability; lack of trained personnel and resources for education; education still centred on the figure of the teacher; Lack of global exposure and yet, a context marked by violence against women, abuse and child marriage, Protestant schools are safe environments and provide young people and children with education to dream of a better future. For this, the Evangelical Church and the schools rely heavily on support, resources, and funding from other countries.

Professor Dr. Bernd Schröder spoke about Protestant schools in Germany. According to him, the challenges are to remain attractive in a growing context of religious non-denominalism; offer a Protestant religious life/experience to young people of all religions and meet the quality standard of public schools. Protestant schools aim to be recognized as schools of quality and excellence with Christian values. Ecumenical initiatives, the practice of solidarity and creativity are major attractions.

We also had a presentation by Professor Miguel A. Fernández, coordinator of the Synodal Educational Work of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Argentina. For him, the Protestant schools in Argentina stand out for their social projects, exchanges, and integration with other Protestant schools in other countries and an education focused on respect, inclusion and dialogue with people of different religions and Christian denominations.

In the midst of the different realities and global experiences presented, the Sinodal Education Network stood out for its organization, for the events and projects that directly contribute to its schools. Ecumenical and global initiatives, such as the partnership with GPENreformation, add even more experience and work, offering new projects and possibilities for schools and enriching learning even more.

Thus, it is clear the good direction, the potential, and the significant testimony of the Sinodal Education Network. There is, however, the possibility to further explore this potential through the strengthening of the relationship with the Church, the existing ecumenical relations, and new partnerships and, finally, greater interaction and dissemination of the Network’s work, which will certainly open new roads and possibilities for good work.