Agape, Ecumenical Center
Agape Ecumenical Center, was founded in Prali (TO) by the Waldensian pastor, Tullio Vinay, in the years following the war. It was built from the project of the architect, Leonardo Ricci, inaugurated in 1951, and to this day continues to work on the leading edge of thematic discussions that connect faith and ethics, faith and politics. Agape is a place of education and development, of theological research, political work, and of acceptance of differences. Based from the nature of its aforementioned work, it represents a fundamental institution of the Waldensian and Methodist community. Caterina Dupré, director of Agape Ecumenical Center answers to some questions, about the present and the future projects and challenges of Agape.
Agape continues to be a fascinating place of encounter, where all diversities are welcomed, as long as each one is ready to meet the diversity of the other.
All our camps this year have been well attended. The children and youth camps, as in previous years, were all filled to capacity, and the adult camps also saw a good attendance.
In particular we had a new camp this year: the Campo campo-lavoro.
Agape was built by volunteers (called Campo Lavoro) and their work has allowed her to continue throughout all these years. Those of Campo Lavoro help us keep things running: working in the kitchen, cleaning, doing maintenance, etc. This new camp for the Campo Lavoro, five days of practical work mingled with discussions and reflections about the meaning and the value of “work” and of “voluntarism” today, is an attempt to underline the importance of this aspect of Agape’s life.
As usual, we continue to work with the challenges related to the issue of freedom. Agape is supposed to be a place of great freedom, but what does this mean from a practical point of view? In particular, we continue to address the issue of the use and abuse of substances. Illegal ones are obviously forbidden, but we try to answer to the question, “Why?” that many kids ask, without responding with the easy, “Just because.” In addition, the question of legal substances, like alcohol and tobacco, can not simply be ignored and we do not believe that simple prohibitionism answers the question, so the challenge remains always open.
The next upcoming camp is the Easter Camp, which, in the last 7 years, has been the Lesbian camp.
This camp has always been opposed by many, and this opposition raises a lot of questions for us. Some just don’t want a church related center to address any issues related to homosexuality, while others say that it is fine to address, but we should not publicize it in our General Program. However, doing things in hiding obviously runs counter to the spirit of Agape. If we believe that an issue must be addressed, that a theme must be discussed, that a group of people must be welcomed, than we do so openly. This, of course, does not mean that we agree on every thesis and position that is expressed, but it does mean that we believe that there has to be space for confronting each other. When speaking of homosexuality in general, applied even more so specifically with lesbianism, there is an amazing quantity of prejudices. I am glad that those who feel disturbed by the presence of this camp can express their concerns, but they should do so in a manner ready to hear the position of those who think differently.
The next event we are looking forward to is the celebration this year of the 60th anniversary of the inauguration of Agape. This same year is also the 50th anniversary for Servizio Cristiano in Riesi (Sicily) and will be a good occasion to rediscover the profound bounds between these two places that were both born through the amazing actions and vision of pastor Tullio Vinay.
We will celebrate this event on August 28th, so we will have time later on to give more details.
21 febbraio 2011