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Franciscan Ecological Project (FEP)


Abstract The Franciscaans Milieuproject, or Franciscan Ecological Project (FEP), is located on thirty acres of land in Stoutenburg, which is near Amersfoort, in the center of The Netherlands. FEP combines environmental and religious education with the practice of everyday life in community. Funded by the Franciscan Ecological Project Foundation, FEP enables people to live in an ecologically-sustainable fashion on the Stoutenburg grounds for short or long periods of time. Based on the fundamental conviction that a spiritual or religious perspective is essential for effectively transforming human-earth relations, FEP draws on the spirituality of St. Francis and Clare of Assisi to promote care for creation. The Project aims to restore a healthy relationship between humanity and nature by offering people the opportunity to reflect on and to change this relationship. In addition to an eco-friendly conference center, FEP consists of an inter-denominational religious community of children and adults, who live simply and spiritually on the land. The community adheres to a religious way of life, following a rather monastic rhythm that balances time for work with meditation, and community life with privacy. Members of the community also practice ecological land management in the vegetable gardens and woods and hold activities and programs on topics relating to spirituality and the environment. Through workshops and publications, the FEP Foundation works to raise awareness about the Project and about the connections between religion and the environment more generally. To promote networking, the Foundation has developed a booklet that lists more than sixty people and organizations working in the area of religion, nature, and the environment.
Religion Christianity
Geographic Location The Netherlands
Duration of Project 1991–Present
History

The roots of Franciscan Ecological Project (FEP) lie in the Franciscan Movement (a lay movement in the Netherlands) and its "Honour the Earth" project as well as in the Franciscan Formation Programme held in Stoutenburg in the 1990s, which gave young adults the chance to discover their own spirituality. Gradually a group of people evolved that was willing to put their experiences and ideas about religious life in the modern world into practice. When they heard that the Franciscan friars were about to give up their friary in Stoutenburg, they got permission to develop such a project on the site, emphasizing the importance of nature in creating a balanced community and lifestyle. After one year of preparation, the Board of the Franciscan Friars approved the project. In the meantime, they sold the building and the lands to an organization that specializes in preserving nature in the Netherlands, from which FEP now rents the site.

Mission Statement The mission of the Franciscan Ecological Project is to give people who would like to improve their relationship with nature an opportunity to do so in practice. Its focus is "the experience of interconnectedness" that can be felt when working in
the garden or the woods and by other forms of participation such as meditation and study. FEP believes that people are willing to change their attitude and behavior in relation to the natural environment when they experience their intrinsic
connection to it.
Partner Organizations

Although FEP does not have formal partnerships, it relates to other projects that combine religion and ecology and has established a network of local persons and organizations active in this field with whom it organizes study days and meetings for the purpose of cross-fertilization and mutual encouragement. Members of the project visited the Genesis Farm in the United States and the Iona community in Great Britain, projects with which they feel an affinity. FEP is developing a relationship with the Franciscans International in Geneva, a non-governmental organization (NGO).

In the Netherlands, FEP maintains relationships with:

The Franciscan Movement
The Council of Churches
Other organizations in the field of spirituality and ecology

Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information Franciscans Milieuproject
Stoutenburgerlaan 5
3835 PB Stoutenburg
The Netherlands
Ph:       +31.33.494.55.00
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)