An Interfaith Project for Protection and Security for Places of Worship

Τhe Center of Ecumenical Missiological and Environmental Studies “Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou” (CEMES), a foundation working with the blessing of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who also inaugurated its offices at St. Theodora Monastery of Thessaloniki in 2013, is participating in the EU funded project PROSECUW (Protection and Security of Places of Worship, ISFP 2020-AG-PROTECT- Project Number: 101034232) and is working together with similar academic foundations from Cyprus, Germany and Portugal. A summary of this pioneering project is the following: 

“Places of worship around Europe and the world are, according to a recent report, in increased danger in the last years due to terrorist attacks and augmentation of hate crimes. These places serve not only individuals but also families and people in need. Thus, it is essential they be able to feel safe in such places and this should be a top priority among local and national stakeholders. One of the various ways to improve protection and security in places of worship is the engagement of the community in the protection efforts.

The main objective of the project is to establish cooperation between public authorities and faith-based leaders and congregations aiming at a better understanding of, security threats, promotion of awareness-raising activities, and the creation of manuals for sharing best practices and relevant tools among EU stakeholders.

The activities and deliverables of the project will be, first, a documentary that will include digital storytelling from people who have experienced hate crimes and terror in places of worship. This way, hopefully, others will feel safer sharing their stories and report such crimes. The documentary will be included in other training activities based on training modules that would enhance understating of the safety concerns and cooperation for their resolution. Furthermore, a best practice guide and policy recommendations based on these training activities will be set to be shared EU-wide. Additionally, various awareness-raising activities will be shared internationally in order to inform the religious communities about the protection plans.

The PROSECUW project in the short and medium-term will benefit religious leaders and law enforcement agents through the training sessions and exchange of a best practices guide internationally and in the long term, will aim to increase the protection of thousands of congregants in Europe. The implementation of the proposed project will lead to strengthened protection measures”.

In this project other people who work in a similar field also participate, in addition to the members of CEMES, under the direction of its present General Secretary Dr. Nikolaos Dimitriadis, who is the Project Manager of PROSECUW for CEMES. See more on the project’s website.