Swiss Willibrord Day in Olten
3 November 2007
"Building Bridges: Exploring the Us, the Them, and the We"

The following participants attended the session:

Clemens Ackermann; Linda Darlington; Peter Darlington; Hector Davie; Jean Drummond-Young; Peter Hawker; Adèle Kelham; Daniel Konrad; Andrew Ling; Kurt Meede ; Oliver Metzger; Klaus Heinrich Neuhoff; John Newsome; Pieter Perrett; Bryan Stone.

The session was facilitated by Barbara Boldt.

"Building Bridges: Exploring the Us, the Them, and the We"

The point of the facilitator was that in order to foster cooperation between groups, "over-arching" goals need to be found that are important to both groups so that they feel motivated to work together. The effect of having accomplished a difficult task together is what creates group cohesion. This works best if the contact between the groups is at the "grass-roots" (i.e. parishioner) level so that relationships can be built and liking can develop and from there, the desire to work together gains momentum.


The language issue is real. Anglicans define "English language" as part of who they are. The Old Catholics in Switzerland obviously worship in German or French. It has to be acknowledged that because practicing a religion is such a personal experience, there is, at least to some degree, an emotional aspect to "going to church" in one's mother-tongue, even though some (maybe even many) multi-lingual people are exceptions to this rule.

In the group work, some other blocks to working together were mentioned or came out:

(Personal note: I don't think it is realistic to just say, "we have a website and all of the information is on it". Going to a website is a voluntary action that someone has to be motivated to take - what is going to motivate them to go there?)

Common issues:

Both groups seem to be in the position of asking fewer and fewer people to do more and more of the "work". There is a lack of people who are going to church in general, which means that both groups are feeling stressed and strained. We talked about the fact that joining forces could create a "critical mass" to do more outreach or some of the activities that are not strictly related to church services.

Suggestions for "Over-arching" goals that could motivate the two groups to work together:

The only real concrete actions that came out of the meeting are:

  • To make connections between the youth of the two churches (Peter H. was most interested in this and seemed to be willing to take action to make this happen)
  • To improve communication between the two groups. It was less clear who was willing to take responsibility for this, but something needs to be done by the Anglicans to make their communication more accessible and transparent (less woolly) to outside groups.

    Barbara Boldt


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