Meeting of Refo500 East and Central European Partners

Refo500 Meeting of Central and Eastern European Partner Institutions

22 September 2014, Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw

by Karla Apperloo-Boersma



Scott Andes, Evangelical Reformed Seminary of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine
Karla Apperloo-Boersma, Refo500, Enschede, Netherlands
Marco Bogade, Deutsches Kulturforum östliches Europa, Potsdam, Germany
Dariusz Brycko, Tolle Lege Institute, Columbia, SC, USA
Simon Burton, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
Emese Czintos, Lucian Blaga Central University Library, Cluj Napoca, Romania (by video)
Michał Choptiany, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
Nathanial Espino, freelance writer, Warsaw, Poland
Tomas Havelka, Institute of Philosophy, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic
Viktoriya Lyubashchenko, Department of Church History, Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Ukraine
Neal Mathias, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC, USA
Ania Michalska, University of Wrocław, Wrocław, Poland
Alex Pettett, World Witness, Greenville, SC, USA
Stanislaw Rabiej, Faculty of Theology, University of Opole, Opole, Poland
Harald Roth, Deutsches Kulturforum östliches Europa, Potsdam, Germany
Łukasz Skurczyński, Pismo er, Warsaw, Poland
Jerzy Sojka, Christian Academy of Theology, Warsaw, Poland
Gergely Tamás Fazakas, Faculty of Arts, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
Zsombor Tóth, Research Center for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
David Van De Water, Tolle Lege Institute, Columbia, SC, USA
Piotr Wilczek, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
Ken Wingate, Tolle Lege Institute, Columbia, SC, USA


  1. To further discuss possibilities for collaboration in Reformation studies.
  2. To stimulate cooperation between Refo500 partners in Central and Eastern Europe.
  3. To inform other institutions of the benefits of a Refo500 partnership.
  4. To explore the wider significance of the Reformation in Central and Eastern Europe and especially the contemporary relevance of its history and theology.

Opening, welcome and introduction

Piotr Wilczek, Refo500 Coordinator for Central and Eastern Europe and professor at the University of Warsaw, opens the meeting and welcomes all. He explains that the main reason for this meeting is to discuss various projects concerning Reformation studies, because it is important to know about each other’s achievements in this respect. “Reformation Studies” is much wider than “The Reformation”: it includes various issues in early modern religious studies, both Protestant, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.
He mentions that for many years and because of various reasons, it was difficult to collaborate and there were various obstacles for researchers who wanted to be involved in religious studies. But now the situation has changed. Piotr Wilczek proposes launching an international project on how the Reformation and Counter-Reformation studies were conducted under Communism.

Presentation Refo500
Karla Apperloo-Boersma, project leader of Refo500, presents the international platform Refo500.The platform focuses on the relevance of the sixteenth century Reformations (plural), is developed by the independent Dutch Refo500 foundation and now counts 120 partners worldwide, among them universities, newspapers, publishers, museums, etc.

Presentation Zsombor Tóth
Zsombor Tóth of the Research Center for the Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences emphasizes in his presentation “East of Eden” not to overestimate the importance of local knowledge, but to also include Western research results. Zsombor Tóths recommends the organization a similar meeting next year in Leuven (during the Fifth RefoRC Conference May 7-9, 2015) and to build up a reliable and lasting network which could channel the sustained efforts of Eastern European Scholarship, also after 2017.

Presentations of Reformation Related Projects by the Attendees

Dariusz Bryćko
Dariusz Bryćko is a pastor of the First Presbyterian Church and connected to the Polish/American Institute Tolle Lege, which came into existence in 2007. One of the goals is to translate books into the Polish language, e.g. the book Purytanie (Meet the Puritans, Joel R. Beeke/Randall J. Pederson). They now aim to establish an international Reformation Research center in Warsaw, containing a library for the greater public, and they want to establish such a center in collaboration with the University of Warsaw. There are no funds for such a center, but there are interested individuals who want to support it. Tolle Lege has also an interest in collaborating with Refo500 and would like to further discuss it.

Piotr Wilczek, University of Warsaw
Piotr Wilczek mentions that the University of Warsaw has a committee for the study of the Reformation in Poland and Eastern Europe, which in the future will be perhaps be transformed into a center of Reformation studies. There already is a book series containing 4 volumes, which is also available online: Furthermore there are plans to publish 14 volumes of Reformation sources, but it all depends on funding. There is a list of ambitious plans, e.g. to organize a library, to offer post doctoral fellowships etc. He would like to discuss a joint and international MA in interreligious perspective, as well as editions in translation and conferences, courses in Greek, Hebrew and Latin.

Emese Czintos, Lucian Blaga Central University Libreary in Cluj/Napoca, Romania
Emese Czintos attends the meeting via a video connection and shows us a powerpoint presentation concerning the activities of the Lucian Blaga Central University Library, including the project calender up to 2017 and wishes for collaboration.

Gergely Tamás Fazakas
Gergely Tamás Fazakas of the Research Group for Reformation and Early Modern Cultural History of the University of Debrecen, presents “Dialogical Remembrance of the Reformation in Early Modern and Modern Hungary (A Research Report)”.

Viktorya Lyubashchenko
Viktorya Lubaschenko of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv is of the opinion that Ukraine still remains in the shadow of other countries. She presents four theses regarding „Protestant Minorities in Orthodox Christian Ukraine: an Attempt at Self-Identification and Cultural Adaptation”.

Thomas Havelka
Thomas Havelka of the Institute of Philosophy, Department of Comenius Studies, presents a survey of published and forthcoming volumes of Opera omnia of J.A. Comenius. Publisher: Academia, Praha.

Harald Roth
Harald Roth of the “Deutsches Kulturforum östliches Europa” is planning a display exhibition about the Reformation in Central and Eastern Europe, containing 12-13 displays. The idea is to show the exhibition in churches, museums, market places etc. The exhibition will give an overview of what Reformation is, as well as show a number of panels of different regions or countries. The exhibition will be available in three languages. There is a collaboration with the Lutheran and Reformed Church in Transylvania and also cooperating museums (Klausenburg, Bucharest). The exhibition is originally planned for Germany and there will be at least 12 copies available.

Jerzy Sojka
Jerzy Sojka of the Chrześcijańska Akademia Teologiczna w Warszawie (Christian Theologial Accademy): the biggest reformation project we are preparing is the translation of the works of Martin Luther into Polish. We plan to edit 8 volumes of the most important works, not only biblical texts but all others too, because up to now there is no such thing as an edition in Polish.

Lucas Skurczynski
Luas Skurczynski of Pismo er shows the Polish website The website was started early in 2013 and is a “protestant, independent, apolitical, but theological, philosophical and social magazine accessible on the web” and a platform of theological and social exchange.

Sott Andes
Scott Andes of the Evangelical Reformed Seminary of Ukraine in Kiev works with about 30 students who are trained to become pastors in the Evangelical Reformed Church. He is willing to network and cooperate where possible.

Simon Burton
Simon Burton of the University of Warsaw mentions the plans for a workshop on Ramism and universal Reformations. The organizer is prof. Howard Hudson. Johannes Piscator and Comenius will be paid attention to. He wonders whether a meeting on Comenius could be arranged, as well as on Ramism, Lullism and other late medieval and early modern theories.


Various projects are discussed during the coffee break and therefore cannot be mentioned here. During the final plenary discussion the following was mentioned:

Karla Apperloo:
1. Regarding Viktorya Lyubashchenko’s presentation: there is also a scholar at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York working on the theme of Protestant Minorities in Orthodox Christian Ukraine. If you are interested, please let me know.
2. Regarding the idea of establishing an international Reformation Research Centre: from the start of Refo500 there was an idea to establish similar centres throuhout the world and right now there is an interest in Seoul (Chongshin University), Sao Paulo (MacKenzie), New York (Boston Theological Institute), Canada (Meeter Center), whereas there already are Reformation Centres connected to Refo500 like St. Andrews and the European Melanchthon Academy in Bretten.

Darius Brycko emphasizes that the local churches should benefit from a Polish Reformation Research Center (like courses for pastors, access to libraries etc.) and that the aid of local churches is needed.


Piotr Wilczek thanks everybody for coming and sharing ideas. He invites the attendees to dinner after the opening lecture of the conference “Reformed Majorities: Confessional Boundaries and Contested Identities”.

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