On 4-6 October 90 humanist professionals from 10 different European countries came together in Bruge Belgium for a Congress on “Expressing Humanist Values in Education, Chaplaincy and Ceremonies”. The congress was organised by the Belgium members of the EHF Commission on Humanist Professionals (C-EHP ) with support of their collegues from De Mens Nu in Bruges. With participants from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Iceland Norway, The Netherlands, UK and Scotland) it was a very lively, inspiring and well organised gathering.
The programme was a mixture of one lecture per day, workshops, presentations of good practices and Ted Talks on various topics devided over the three fields of practice. The lectures were “the art of living together, a plea for pluralistic humanism”, “how to deal with cultural diversity and life stance”, and “Humanist values in a changing world”, subjects which were put into practice in the workshops and tedtalks. Besides learning and sharing experiences there was lots of time for networking and informal contact during the reception at the townhall, dinner and lunches. All in all an event that showed how inspiring and important an exchange of thoughts between humanist “professionals” (including the ones who work as a voluntiers on a professional bases) is for strengthening the humanist movement across Europe.
The congress also made clear were the C-EHP stands at the moment: except Italy, only Northern European countries were present and most partcipants were counselors, chaplaigns and celebrants, with only a small group of humanist educators (Belgium, Ireland and Iceland) It shows that mainly Nothern countries have the means and structures for humanist “professionals” (not all of them are paid; some work professionally on a voluntary bases) and can afford to let them partcipate in congressess abroad.
Motivated by the Congress, this is something that the C-EHP will attend to in the years to come.
For 2020 the C-EHP is planning a working visit to Germany on humanist education. The Dutch member of the C-EHP is organising a Summer School for Counselors/Chaplaigns, in cooperation of the University of Humanistics and the Humanist Chaplaigns of the Ministry of Defence ( 6th-10th July 2020)