„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


24th October 2014

In the year of Inclusive Christianity as main YMCA Europe’ programme focus, already the 8th Catch the Vision (CtV) YE Seminar took place (Oct. 13-18).

It was a very special experience! Each time (each second year) CtV was organized in spectacular places with a special meaning - for example in Jerusalem, Prizren (Kosovo), Erevan (Armenia), Shkodra (Albania), Istanbul (Turkey).

This time, participants from 13 countries (Argentina, Belarus, Czech Rep., England, Germany, Iceland, Malta, N. Ireland, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine) came to Voloshin in Belarus - a small town where the local YMCA has its own house. Voloshin looks as a small and simple place, but we went there for the journey through "Cultural Roots for Peaceful Co-existence".

In Voloshin and in other places in its surrounding (Vishnievo, Ivie, Novogrodek) we explored Christian, Jewish and Muslim cultures and traditions and we got to know - based on concrete historical and contemporary examples - that different religion backgrounds not necessarily provoke conflicts and lack of mutual understanding. What the message for the world today!

What we were doing during the seminar? Look at the list of programme components: *presentations on monotheistic religions and on Jewish gravestones symbolism, *presentation on YMCA in Palestine, *presentation on Orthodox icons and spirituality, *interactive session on personal development, *visits to Catholic and Orthodox churches and conversations with the priests we met there, *visit to mosque of local Tatars and conversation with imam, *visit to old Jewish cemeteries and place of birth of Simon Peres, *visit to the museum of Jewish resistance during Holocaust, *workshop on art of photography and the contest of best photo, *workshop on Muslim cuisine and own preparing of Uzbek manti, *workshop on Marc Chagall and own painting-class, *debates on YMCA as a safe space and its inclusiveness, *thoughts and reflections on different religion and cultural traditions, *video-message from our YMCA Europe´s Christian Orientation Group, *Belorussian evening with lots of cultural/historic information and even more fun. And it is not all...

When we were leaving to our homes we understood that ordinary Voloshin became for us a unique place, at least in our own spiritual life-journeys, it was a symbol of wonderful peaceful life despite different religion, ethnic, cultural and social backgrounds...

Thank you YMCA Belarus and YMCA Voloshin for hosting us! Thank you YMCA Romford for unexpected support to the Seminar! Thank you Ed Eggink for visiting us! And soon on YE-web you will see the exhibition of the best images from Catch the Vision 2014.