Women of Faith Network – Macedonian brunch: activities


In Macedonia, this year2011, we had only one activity. In January, women of faith from Macedonian Orthodox Church, Catholic Church and United Methodist Church in Macedonia joined together in prayer. This activity took place in Catholic Church in Skopje.



Students - theologians from Macedonia exchanged experiences in the Netherlands

Last year, 13 participants - students and professors from the Orthodox Theological Faculty and the Faculty of Islamic Sciences were able to visit the Netherlands to learn about religious life in this country. They visited several theological educational institutions, NGOs and religious objects.
This program was organized by the Macedonian branch of European Women of faith network – RfP in cooperation with Dutch branch of European Women of faith network – RfP (Martina Heinrichs) and Dominicanen klooster Huissen in the Netherlands. The fruits of cooperation can be seen in successfully organized six-day visit to the Netherlands, from which all participants received a positive experience, which certainly will have an opportunity to consider in their future work as theologians and to implement positive examples in their environment. During their stay, participants were placed in the Dominican monastery in the Dutch town Huissen. The monastery typikon: "Under the roof", introduce them in that home atmosphere in which every member has their own responsibilities and contribute to the community. They all agreed that it contributed to feel like one big spiritual family.
From the six-day visit, filled with many events, I will mention a few that left the biggest impression on students:

- Dominican Monastery in Zwolle
The best experience we had during the students exchange program in the Netherlands. An excellent project that brings young people from different religions and education to respect religious and cultural values of a country. Students are outside their homeland for several months and this gives them the opportunity to be independent and gain positive skills that are interested and would be useful in their lives in the future.
I will make research on internet for a similar project that would enable the students from countries that are not yet EU members to gain such experience. I noticed a great interest of the students from Macedonia to participate in a similar project.

- Islamic University

It is my impression that the Islamic University is different from others I have visited. In the way that it is independent from the religious community. The way they are trying to be relevant Dutch University and the politics of the Islamic University, which strives to accommodate the requirements of the Dutch educational system to exist as an accredited university in the country.

- Islam and Dialogue center
Opportunity to socialize with young Muslims in the Netherlands and to hear about their lives and their inter-religious projects was also good experience for us. Here, the biggest impression on me left the documentary "The imam and the priest". This example I had already retold and it was commented by people in my environment.

- Institute for Eastern Christianity
For me as an Orthodox theologian this visit was of great interest. We have got interesting information in the field of Orthodox education system and its openness to other Christian denominations. Idea: It would be good in the future to invite some of the professors who are familiar with the Orthodox Theological Faculty in Macedonia as a visiting professor.

- Students Church
Until now we were not familiar with Taize - service. This was the first time, as believers of different religions together to participate in prayer. Many participants from Macedonia were uncomfortable, although only because of kindness of the other students. In Macedonia, inter-religious cooperation is based on introducing each other, respect and dialogue, but I think that this way for a joint prayer for now is impossible to be applied in our country. What I liked in this visit is their project: "Hutspot of couscous". Very good way of gathering young people from different religions.

- Diner with Dutch families
For the first time we had the opportunity to be familiar with the lifestyle in a Dutch family, their family values, culture and foods. And all this from first hand, by very kind and wonderful people ...

- Traditional Macedonian diner
Indeed the culture of the peoples are reflected through food. Introducing the traditional food of a nation is a prelude to introducing its culture and beliefs. Therefore, in our preparation of Macedonia's traditional cooked food for dinner we were deeply excited by the desire to present it in the best light.
I hope that the our guests from the Netherlands liked dinner :)
This is a good idea to continue to practice in Macedonia, at least for major religious holidays.

- Council of Churches Netherlands
The Macedonian Orthodox Church is not yet a member of the World Council of Churches, due to misunderstandings about its name and autocephaly. So this was a good opportunity to learn more about the projects that this organization works on, and also to introduce them with our Macedonian church.

- Balkanborrel
An interesting opportunity to meet people from Macedonia and the Balkans living in the Netherlands. To hear their experiences and how they are satisfied with their life-stile in Netherlands. On the other hand, to introducing them with our view of the relations in the Netherlands, which we acquired during this brief visit.

- Amsterdam Community Oudezijds
It was a surprise to us that such a Christian humanitarian organization can survive so long in the environment as the Red Light District. Building good relations with neighbors, avoiding problems, and still they are present in this neighborhood for those who need help.
Overall, the program was wonderful and it was great experience for all participants.

After this successful project, we continued our cooperation with Martina Heinrichs from Dutch branch of European Women of faith network – RfP. Now we are organizing a similar project which will be held in Macedonia next year. Participants in the project will be students from the Netherlands and France. The program will include sightseeing, workshop sessions on icon painting and bycantinian singing and encounter. Participants will be placed in a Macedonian Orthodox Monastery.