The Agape Project
Agape is an ambitious project that was born halfway through the last century from the ideas of a Waldensian pastor, Tullio Vinay. Its main goal is to be a meeting place. The founding values of Agape, i.e. reconciliation and reconstruction, are at the basis of all its activities. From the community life and volunteer work to the daily life in the centre, priority is given to being and living together in an inclusive and sustainable way.
The camps held at Agape provide a space for discussion about different subjects: current political and social topics, gender-related, spiritual and theological issues, as well as training and education.
Agape belongs to the centers and organizations of the Waldensian Church in Italy.
Agape’s history began from the need for reconciliation and togetherness that was felt not only at national but also at international level after the Second World War. The desire of peace and reconstruction inspired and led the building of the centre and the project.
Agape is a meeting centre that defines itself as “ecumenical” and “international.” Its ecumenism is to be understood in a very broad sense: meeting of believers of different religions and confessions – but also non believers – who leave behind their assumptions of knowing and holding the truth.
The centre benefits from its international aspect: all groups of volunteers who live and work at Agape contain individuals from different countries. Every year Agape’s program includes a series of international camps organized by people of different international origin. The international dimension has been part of the centre since its foundation. Agape has been a place for dialogue and valorization of the differences from the beginning, a living experiment of the idea that another world is possible.
“Love never ends” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NRSV)
Agape is a word that some people may find peculiar. It can be found in the New Testament where the term indicates God’s love for human beings, but elsewhere it means simply “spiritual” love.
When the apostle Paul writes, in the first letter to the Corinthians, that “love will never ends,” he means that everything is destined to reach an end, but the love of God will accompany us forever. The Agape Ecumenical Centre was inspired by this same evangelical idea. In time, it tried to be a place where this idea could be experimented and experienced through the meeting and dialogue of all faiths and opinions. Agape continues to thrive thanks to the volunteer work of those who, every year, decide to dedicate some of their time to the collective commitment that benefits this shared project.
Those arriving at Agape for the first time are amazed by the fact that the centre was built in the mid 1900’s. The new and original architecture could make one think that the building is more recent.
Education is one of the most important elements of Agape’s project. It is a field of constant research and confrontation for which definition this centre has been committed since the 1980s. Agape keeps questioning the education role it covers in in the activities it offers, adopting various methodologies and specially those of non-formal education, of peer-to-peer education, of participate and cooperative learning, and ludopedagogy.