Seeking Conviviality: Reforming Community Diakonia in Europe

Introduction

The production of this report is just one part of the overall process Seeking Conviviality, Re-forming Community Diakonia in Europe. The participation of 28 people, most of whom are active in local diakonia, gives a rich picture of the context and ideas for diaconal practice grounded in experience.

Seeking Conviviality shares practical strategies as well as identifies tools that support a holistic approach to diakonia. Drawing on European experiences, it emphasizes “conviviality” as its key conceptual framework. It implies the foundation of communities based on reciprocal relationships, mutual respect for their differences, and strength among people and communities that enriches living together.

The report presents a variety of contextual realities and good practice that contribute to the Lutheran World federation approach of mutual engagement in holistic mission. In view of the increasing experience of change and diversity within societies across Europe, the report envisions European community diakonia as space for building trust and living together in inclusive neighborhoods; striving for solidarity and justice.

It also affirms the specificity of each member church which informs how they understand and express Lutheran identity in their diaconal calling.

It highlights participatory approaches as an effective way to engage in diaconal and advocacy action. The report encourages a deeper understanding of the contextual social challenges faced in Europe and promotes mutual learning and commitment to one another.

Seeking Conviviality calls for the radical reorientation of diakonia. It gives voice to people forced to live in the margins of society. They become leading stakeholders and actors in the process of analyzing their situations and identifying viable solutions. It challenges the “giver and receiver approach”, both in terms of serving those in need and sharing resources among the churches. Therefore, the vision for diakonia is developed in context and aims to empower people to take ownership of their own community’s transformation and to live and write new life stories as active members of community.