Statement of the Oikosnet global board regarding
the decision of EED on terminating support
Oikosnet is presently facing one of the biggest financial challenges in its history. In
March 2010, EED made the decision to end its long relationship of over 20 years with
Oikosnet. On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of participants around the world who
benefit from our programs, we invite EED to re-examine their decision to end this rela-
Oikosnet is the global ecumenical network of lay centers and movements of social concern, which brings
together about 300 different organizations across five continents. The Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst
(EED) and its predecessors had a long and positive relationship with Oikosnet because EED understood
the broad vision of the work. EED nurtured and supported the development of this worldwide network for
more than 20 years. In recent years, in partnership, Oikosnet and EED created a mutually agreed upon list
of improvements in the structure and programming and content of the common work. Oikosnet responded
to the concerns of EED by creating a new legal body, establishing new headquarters in Latin America, and
organizing additional global courses for lay leaders. Despite our positive changes, in March 2010 Oikosnet
received a short letter from EED stating that 2009 was the final funding year!
Oikosnet is distressed and disappointed by this drastic decision. Our global centers are committed to con-
tinue to provide hundreds of thousands of people around the world with services, training for advocacy-
work, safe spaces for programming, empowerment of grass root movements and more.
In recent years, our centers accomplished critical work:
Initiated and improved the Muslim-Christian dialogue in Pakistan and Egypt.
Improved the communication between centers in different parts of Africa, both through appropri-
ate training and capacity building (together with funders other than EED).
Developed a very successful conflict management tool, Dialogue for Peaceful Change. This tool
is being applied in more than 30 countries. Oikosnet provided the new pool of trainers and
coaches. We have now more than 450 facilitators, 25 trainers, and 5 coaches.
Trained individuals to work within empowerment and capacity-building organizations involved in
many grass-roots movements (poverty, HIV/Aids, justice, etc.).
Supported the lobby and advocacy of peace and justice issues (position of women, policies on
trade, role of religion) at local, national, and international levels.
Oikosnet will continue to support a structure that enables regions to become more sustainable financially.
This restructure takes time and is extremely difficult in the present economic environment. The sudden cut
in funds places the continuation of the work of Oikosnet at great risk.
We ask EED to continue their investment in this partnership.
We invite EED to reopen channels of communication with Oikosnet in order to continue the common task
of establishing cross-cultural relationship and creating significant social change in our world.
Munich May 12, 2010,
Serop Megerditchian, president Oikosnet, Oikosnet Middle East
German Zijlstra, coordinator Oikosnet, Oikosnet Latin America
Kofi Amfo Akonnor, Oikosnet Africa
John Zechariah, Oikosnet Asia
Jean Richardson, Oikosnet North America
Wolfgang Lenz, Oikosnet Europe
Nuha Khoury, Oikosnet Middle East
Sally Simmel, Oikosnet North America
Mehboob Sada, Oikosnet Asia
Jaap van der Sar, Oikosnet Europe
For further information, please contact the coordinator: German Zijlstra firstname.lastname@example.org
Fritz Erich Anhelm
EED quo vadis? Or: How to ditch a global partner network
To understand it is not. The responsible bodies in charge of the Evangelical Development Service in
Germany (EED) have cancelled completely the funding for the worldwide network of church acade-
mies and lay centers. Moreover, for the current year.
If they knew what they were doing, it is bad. If they did not know, it is even worse. Inquiries from
those who agreed with this decision seem to indicate something worse. The reason of the EED-board
for the deletion of the recent grant of 230.000 Euro per year consists of two "arguments": The fund-
ing has already run long enough. In addition, the network of academies and lay centers was not able
to submit alternatives. Substantive reasons were not to know. The message of the deletion of the
funding consisted of two lines. Discussions with the parties concerned were not held.
Who are these parties concerned? They are 234 member centers, which are organized into six re-
gional associations, including 71 in Africa, 38 in Asia, 23 in Latin America, 20 in the Middle East, 66 in
Europe (including 14 in the eastern part) and 16 in North America. These regional associations are
working together worldwide under the name "Oikosnet. “ The coordination currently is done by the
Latin American Association.
It is worthwhile to take a closer look (www.oikosnet.org). One will discover that the centers do de-
velopment work in their countries and churches, such as the Center for Nutrition in Benin, training
centers for girls in Ghana, the Nakuru-Community Centre in Kenya, the youth and women's organiza-
tion in Nigeria, the Centre for Regional Development in Colombia or the Association Against Rural
Poverty and the Institute for Development Education or the Vellore Institute of Development in India
or the Institute for Social Counseling in Indonesia, and many more. All these institutions are multipli-
ers for the churches' development cooperation. At the same time, many of the centers are active in
peace building and conflict transformation work. These include the Africa Peace Foundation in Kenya
and the Institute for Church and Society in Jos (Plateau State, Nigeria), which is a mediator in the
presently heated Muslim-Christian riots. In Sri Lanka, it is the Ecumenical Institute for Dialogue, in
Europe, it is Stichting Oikos (Netherlands), and the Corrymeela Community (Northern Ireland), which
through a global project initiated by Oikosnet (Dialogue for Peaceful Change/DPC;
www.dialogueforpeacefulchange.net) trained about 450 mediators during the last few years in crisis
regions of Africa and Asia. Here, too, one could extend the list of centres involved in peace and rec-
onciliation work. Moreover, a large number of centers have become multipliers in the field of envi-
ronmental transformation, alternative energy, and climate change, such as the Ramseyer Training
Centre at Abetifi (Ghana), the Transformation Resource Centre in Lesotho or the Orthodox Academy
in Vilemov (Czech Republic) and many others. Evangelical Academies in Germany have recently been
granted a UN award for an EED-sponsored climate project.
All of these centers are characterized by their ecumenical orientation, and are especially related to
the member churches of the Ecumenical Council in Geneva (Protestant and Orthodox), as well as to
Catholic and new churches. They owe their origin to the ecumenical movement. After a very positive
evaluation of their cooperation five years ago and on request by EED, they created their own legal
entity for the administration of grant funds (Stichting Oikosnet), such as the EED grant from the Lay
Centres Coordination Fund.
This Lay Centres Coordination Fund was established jointly with the EMW (later: EED) at the end of
the 80s. It was meant as core funding for the coordination secretariats especially for the regional
associations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, that organized courses for "Lay-
Leaders-Training" (CLLTs; the most recent global course in November 2009 in Bangkok and Pat-
taya/Thailand), networking among member centers, training for their staff and joint projects. These
courses and projects not only equip the member centers with competence and ecumenical orienta-
tion. They also produced many leading (lay) persons (not least, by the way, former board members of
EED) who in the ecumenical movement and the World Council of Churches played a significant re-
gional role and still play.
Perhaps it is also the case that the board of EED tried to get rid also of this - like so many other -
ecumenical commitment. They might not have been fully aware that they cut off themselves from a
worldwide network of actors whose influence reaches far beyond the church realm. The refusal to sit
down with stakeholders (especially the representatives of regional associations) around the table to
jointly find solutions for a still unknown problem, points to an extremely weak interest for the work -
often to be done under very adverse circumstances - of the network and its member centers. A readi-
ly evoked “partnership” looks different.
If the problem was to create 230.000 Euro spare capacity in the 150 million plus Euro EED budget,
this is not the problem of Oikosnet. To turn it into Oikosnet’s problem while at the same time shifting
the blame to Oikosnet for not having developed alternatives, is a profoundly unacceptable, although
not unusual procedure. For that matter, it would have been relatively easy for the EED board to find
a solution with the participation of the other large church development organizations in Europe, with
which they already cooperate. A solution along these lines would have accommodated the needs and
interests of Oikosnet. If the now taken rigid decision remains in place, EED will not be able to abdi-
cate – even in the light of ecumenical history - its responsibility for the destruction of this global net-
work of lay institutions. This responsibility remains. To responsibly tackle it, it may be helpful to put
the issue again on the table of the responsible bodies, which may not have been fully aware about
the consequences of their decision. Inviting the stakeholders for a problem-solving and clarifying
dialogue will certainly be a useful step for such awareness building.