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The Beginning of the
European Christian Internet Conference
Some thoughts of Rev. Jakob Vetsch, Zürich,
the founder of Pastoral Care on the Internet.
2011, June 16th, ECIC XVI, Fürstenried Palace, Munich
Jakob Vetsch, ECIC XVI, Munich (Foto by Mihaly Szabo, Cluj, Romania)
On September 27th in this year, I founded and started
the first Pastoral Care on the Internet (www.seelsorge.net), and in
October the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) has put a website on
the net. This was done by Dr. Matthias Schnell of the
"Gemeinschaftswerk evangelischer Publizistik"
(GEP). He was my first partner in my internet-activities.
In the beginning of 1996, the Church Media House of
Switzerland invited to an information-day in Zürich on
internet-activities. Dr. Matthias Schnell had a speech there, and so we
had the chance to meet each other. The friendship was perfect! As there
were very few religious activities on the internet, we had a good
In spring, Dr. Klaus Stoll of the Theological Seminary
of Lancaster UK visited Dr. Matthias Schnell in Frankfurt. Dr. Stoll
built up the internet network of churches in UK, based at the St.Martin
College in Lancaster. During his visit in Frankfurt, the idea of an
European Christian Internet Conference (ECIC) was born! The next day,
Dr. Schnell gave me a call and asked me, whether I could join them and
tell about the experiences in Pastoral Care in Internet. I was amazed
In the same year 1996, the first conference, ECIC I, was
held in Frankfurt, organized by GEP and Dr. Matthias Schnell. The
second conference was held in 1997 in Lancaster UK, organized by Klaus
Stoll, who left later in order to work in Ecuador.
In Lancaster, there was also the first and only
International Christian Internet Conference (ICIC), as there were
participants from the United States. I remember very well Rev. Mary
Olson, who explained us her website "The Abrahamic Family", dealing
with the three of the five world religions who go back to Father
Abraham. Rev. Olson joined our team of Pastoral Care on the Internet,
which allowed us to present on our website seven languages. An ICIC II
was never organized, as we could not get participants from Asia.
In 1998, Carla Vermin-Anderson invited us for ECIC III
to Driesbergen, Netherlands, and in 1999, Gabor Bogdanyi invited us for
ECIC IV to Budapest. So, ECIC was going on very well…
A member of the Steering Committee from the beginning
was Rev. Iain Morrison of Scottland, the later president of ECIC. Also
from the beginning Gunnar Bach Pedersen participated. He introduced
Pastoral Care in internet in Denmark.
With great pleasure we welcomed at ECIC II in Lancaster
a group from Finland with Juha Kinanen, who founded in Finland a
Pastoral Care in Internet for children and young people. He replaced me
later in the steering committee of ECIC and so, the ECIC V was held in
Helsinki, Finland. Later on he was elected as one of the presidents of
ECIC and we have to thank him very much for his great work he has done.
The founders of ECIC are proud on your very important work, never forget! – Today, we should create iPhone-Apps and we should participate in the todays social communities like Facebook and Twitter. And our churches should recognize that this work is very important to spread out the message of Jesus Christ! – God bless you all.
The ECIC XVI. was held in Munich, Germany
last update: 27.06.2011