Along with development cooperation and humanitarian aid, church cooperation (CC) is the third pillar of HEKS/EPER's international work. HEKS/EPER supports, advises, promotes and accompanies Reformed Churches in Eastern Europe, Italy and the Middle East in their diaconal (social)l work and in building vibrant church communities.
Inclusion of the socially disadvantaged
In many Eastern European countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania or Ukraine, the Reformed Church is assuming social and societal responsibilities, more specifically by caring for socially disadvantaged people and those bypassed by government social services. With the support of HEKS/EPER, the Evangelical Church in the Czech Republic counsels migrant workers about claiming their rights. In Romania, Hungary and Slovakia, HEKS/EPER supports church community in their projects for the inclusion of the Roma, who face discrimination. In Romania, HEKS/EPER promotes the creation of home care services and supports victims of domestic violence as well as people with disabilities. The Reformed Churches and their institutions are gaining social recognition thanks to their diaconal work.
Vibrant church life
The growing secularization of society is posing major challenges for HEKS/EPER's partner churches in Eastern Europe. Like the Reformed Churches in Switzerland, their membership too is declining and they must cope with poor infrastructure such as run-down church buildings indispensable to the continued vibrancy of church life. HEKS/EPER therefore promotes various church-run social activities, especially for children and young people. Besides, HEKS/EPER is helping active church communities survive with financial and logistical support for the renovation of run-down church buildings.
In addition to strengthening community life and solidarity within the church, yet another focus of church cooperation is the promotion of frank and unbiased dialogue between partner churches and church communities in their respective countries. Through exchange programmes and events, HEKS/EPER promotes solidarity and dialogue between Reformed Church communities in Switzerland and partner churches abroad.
Concept 2017 – 2020
HEKS/EPER International Programme
HEKS/EPER works towards a more humane and more equitable world, assisting people and communities to overcome economic, social or humanitarian disparities in order to gain autonomy and to live with dignity.