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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)

In the middle of 1995, the first popular webbroser Netscape 1.0 came to the market. E-Mailing was done with Eudora light and the search engines were Altavista and Excite.

On September 27th in this year, I founded and started the first Pastoral Care on the Internet (, 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 overview.

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 and agreed.

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 Driebergen, 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: 21.12.2020