3 questions to Isabelle Richard and Jean Fontanieu – Protestant Views

Is mutual aid inscribed in the DNA of the FEP?

JF: By mutual aid, we must on the one hand understand “mutual aid” between associations, that is to say the possibility, within a federation whose members are fraternal and benevolent towards each other, of s help, when for example a large foundation intervenes with a smaller association to support it on legal, financing or other issues. The FEP offers this space where helping each other and listening to each other between associations, with kindness, is possible.

On the other hand, the word must also be understood in a broader way, calling for human, fraternal, universal mutual aid, where the knowledgeable, the possessors, are called upon to help their most precarious and deprived human brothers. This double meaning nourishes the commitment of the members, within the FEP.

IR : Indeed, we wish to encourage mutual aid between our members, a mutual aid which feeds on their plurality, and to stimulate reflection and experimentation on the meaning of their action. We offer a “community” space in a structured network, conducive to a dialogue in trust, effective cooperation, plural governance.

Alongside this anchoring in the field, the FEP claims a Protestant spiritual and ethical anchoring. It participates – collectively, with its members – in the construction of a fairer and more fraternal society, inspired by the message of the Gospel. The FEP is a solid pillar of Protestantism: it makes the link between what we live and what we believe, it puts faith into action.

Our commitment is responsible, benevolent, innovative, collaborative, but it remains humble and realistic, serving a project that is beyond us.

What are the main missions of the FEP?

IR: Our first mission is to federate and animate. We lead a network organized in regions and offer events, meetings, places of exchange, pooling of practices… but we also offer support for the development and action of member associations: communication, human and financial resources, methods, training , tools and means of financing…

Our second mission is to listen and act. We circulate data and field experiences and decipher societal changes to prevent, innovate, experiment and make constructive proposals. We also co-produce studies, observations, in-depth analyzes in partnership with experts. Finally, we design field projects and organize their implementation: these can be social projects, but also cultural, economic, professional, political, etc.

J.F. : Our third mission is to represent and challenge: to represent members in national, local and European bodies and institutions, and to carry out political and societal advocacy in consultation with the Protestant Federation of France, of which the FEP is a member, and to other civil society partners engaged in social action.

We speak out for our members and make proposals to authorities and public authorities, we take part in the debate, participate in thematic working groups and set up institutional partnerships.

The FEP is a partner of reference on the subjects that can be called “social action”, recognized for its ability to be independent, rigorous, open to modernity, inventive, audacious. It offers another look at social-Christian commitment by trying to embrace the world in all its complexity and to involve as many people as possible in its approach, in a spirit of compromise.

Can you give us some of the major achievements and actions of the FEP?

JF: I spontaneously think of the many pleas including the “95 social theses” developed in 2017 for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation; the FEP has produced a political proposal of ninety-five new social issues to be dealt with, for the… five hundred years to come!

I could also cite the construction of a “federative project”, with a platform for action and positioning, or even our positions in defense of the associative model, freedom of social action, public partnership -private and associations-public authorities, the principle of secularism and the expression of spirituality in the public space.

IR: We are also taking specific actions. Our Welcoming Abroad program implements the Humanitarian Corridors from the refugee camps in Lebanon, has developed expertise in the field of citizen accommodation, fight for access to work for undocumented people, taking specific responsibility for unaccompanied minors, access to care and accommodation, abolition of the crime of solidarity; it promotes the construction of a European policy that respects the rights of human beings.

We also offer spaces for experimentation to our members, for example to promote participatory democracy and the taking into account of the voices of the people welcomed, so that they are involved in the construction of their journey, and this, until end of life. We are also working on the synergy between volunteers and professionals, a fruitful dynamic which is at work with a majority of our members and which requires thought, coordination and support. We encourage and facilitate pooling and collaborative or cross-functional projects. We organize events, symposiums, or meetings allowing to cross the glances on particular themes and to question the ethics and the direction of the action, so that each person is considered in the globality of his needs: physical, psychic and spiritual. .

J.F. : We also draw attention, tirelessly, to forgotten or neglected groups: aging people on the street, Roma and Gypsies, unaccompanied minors, the excluded in mental suffering, aging disabled people… FEP, we refuse fatality and proclaim that every human being has the right to a just and dignified place, whatever their situation of suffering or vulnerability. Our role is to unite the efforts of our members to build a more fraternal society and to proclaim hope.

3 questions to Isabelle Richard and Jean Fontanieu – Protestant Views