The Kirchentag & the Reformation
Here are two articles about the Berlin Kirchentag in 2017 and the Celebrations in Wittenberg for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation
The second and longer piece is a translation by Tony Dickinson of six articles on the German Kirchentag website, telling the story of how the idea of linking the Kirchentag to the Reformation Celebration came about, and outlining the programme that is currently taking shape. Each of the six gives the relevant web address.
The second piece starts here.
The first and shorter piece is a report version, also by Tony, with all the most important information.
The Protestant Reformation of 1517
The idea of a great service of celebration in Wittenberg on 28th May 2017, to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, has been linked with the proposal to hold a Kirchentag in Berlin beforehand from 24th-27th May. It is giving rise to an unprecedented collaboration between the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) and the determinedly independent Kirchentag. The EKD is planning a world exhibition of the Reformation and a youth camp over the summer 2017 in Wittenberg. It is intended that a pilgrim route (Stationenweg) will run through Europe from 31st October 2016 until the 2017 Kirchentag. For the first time bishops, ecumenical partners, and lay people from the Kirchentag are sitting down together in a decision-making body - the "leadership circle" (Leitungskreis) for the 2017 Reformation Jubilee. This body, which was established last year, includes representatives of the EKD and of the German Protestant Kirchentag as well as representatives of international religious groupings, the ACK (Council of Christian Churches in Germany), the city of Wittenberg, and the Central Committee of German Catholics.
The plan (still in its early stages) is to hold a Kirchentag in Berlin and Wittenberg with a Kirchentag on the Way. Local organisation will be in the hands of two Landeskirchen - the Protestant Church in Central Germany and the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz).
So far, the following events are planned:
From Thursday to Saturday of the Kirchentag some events will be located in Wittenberg. (50 minutes from Berlin by rail). The high point of the Kirchentag will be a great service of celebration on 28th May 2017 on the Elbe meadows in front of the panorama of Wittenberg. There will also be events in Erfurt, Jena, Magdeburg, Dessau, Halle and Leipzig in Saxony, as part of "Kirchentag on the Way" culminating in the large joint service of celebration on the Sunday in front of the gates of Wittenberg. Ecclesiastically, Dessau is in the Church of Anhalt and Leipzig in the Saxon Church. The other four towns are part of the Protestant Church of Central Germany. The towns will offer a programme that differs from the Kirchentag and yet clearly stands in the stream of reflection, remembrance and the anticipation of the next 500 years of Protestant community life. The programme is characteristic of each city and is adapted to their profile and their urban space. It will begin in the course of Ascension Day 2017and will run until the Saturday. One suggestion is to start an ecumenical church service at 6.00 pm on Ascension Day simultaneously in each of these towns, coinciding with a celebration in Berlin.
- a service of celebration in Wittenberg as an integral part of the 36th German Protestant Kirchentag in Berlin (under the auspices of the Kirchentag)
- the "Kirchentag on the Way" in six German towns which were the obvious places in central Germany to participate in the major act of worship (under the auspices of the Kirchentag)
- the "World exhibition of the Reformation" and events related to this (the responsibility of the EKD)
- youth camps in Wittenberg in summer 2017 (under the auspices of the EKD)
- the opening of the year of celebration on 31st October ("Reformation Day") 2016 in Berlin, and the conclusion of the Jubilee year on 31st October 2017 (for which the overall control lies with the EKD)
- a "pilgrim way" (under the auspices of the EKD)
The invitation to participate will be issued at the end of 2015, but it is already possible to register an interest in taking part in the events in Wittenberg through email@example.com. The full details of what is planned so far can be found at www.kirchentag.de/en/reformationsjubilaeum-2017.html
In the beginning was the memory -
- of Leipzig in 1954, and of Rosenthal and the 600,000 people who were together at the final gathering of the Kirchentag. Then came an idea - born in the Presidium of the Kirchentag and in the region which is connected with key actors of the Reformation. The idea was a great service of celebration in Wittenberg.
And soon the second idea was there: a Kirchentag in Berlin beforehand. With speeches and arguments, with a passion for Europe and for the impossible miracle of peace, that became real in this very city. The fall of the wall became normality long ago. Today, Berlin is a good place for Inter-faith co-existence. Berlin is a good place for a Kirchentag in 2017 with a service of celebration in Wittenberg. All are invited to the service of celebration. Those who come from a long way, stop beforehand in the region. Because of that it will become Kirchentag on the Way. There pilgrims can head for a stop, before they set out for Wittenberg.
So the Kirchentag follows the anticipated invitation of two Churches to a Kirchentag in Berlin and Wittenberg with the Kirchentag on the Way. The Churches are the Protestant Church in Central Germany and the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia.
How is that to be done? How do so many people get to Wittenberg? Is it affordable? All of this has been discussed in many rounds with much technical expertise. As the Reformation was in the end a venture that has inspired many people, so also this idea is being set in motion step by step, first by a few, then by many, who take with them more and more people.
The Kirchentag is a movement, independent of the established churches. But many threads run back and forth between Kirchentag and parishes and form a closely-woven network. This network is strong enough to bring success to a collaboration between the Protestant Church in Germany and the German Protestant Kirchentag. The Church is planning a world exhibition of the Reformation and a youth camp over the summer 2017 in Wittenberg. From 31st October 2016 until the 2017 Kirchentag, a pilgrim route is to run through Europe.
To combine energies, to avoid dual structures for preparation, where it works better with one - that is the goal of a new departure. For the first time bishops, ecumenical partners, and Kirchentag lay people are sitting down together in a decision-making body - the leadership circle for the 2017 Reformation Jubilee.
The Kirchentag, probably in Berlin-Wittenberg, and the Kirchentag on the Way are a Kirchentag with a slogan and a President (Christina aus der Au, from Zurich). There will be a "roof" for communication; the regional component is designed autonomously. The Kirchentag on the Way in six Central German cities has a similar status to the regional projects for the Kirchentag since 2007.
So far, the following events are planned:
- a service of celebration in Wittenberg as an integral part of the anticipated 36th German Protestant Kirchentag in Berlin, under the auspices of the Kirchentag
- the Kirchentag on the Way in six German cities, which were the obvious places in central Germany to participate in a major act of worship, under the auspices of the Kirchentag
- the "World exhibition of the Reformation", and events related to this, are the responsibility of the EKD
- youth camps in Wittenberg in summer 2017, under the auspices of the EKD
- the opening of the year of celebration on 31st October 2016 in Berlin, as well as the conclusion of the Jubilee year on 31st October 2017, for which the overall control lies with the EKD;
- a " pilgrim way", under the auspices of the EKD
On May 27, 2013, the leadership circle "Reformation Jubilee 2017" was established in Berlin.
Representatives of the Protestant Church in Germany and of the German Protestant Kirchentag belong to the circle. In addition, international religious groupings, the ACK (Council of Christian Churches in Germany), the city of Wittenberg, and the Central Committee of German Catholics are represented.
The preparation of the 500th anniversary of the reformation in 2017 requires "the best possible combination of religious forces", said Reinhard Höppner, former Prime Minister of Saxony Anhalt and Chair of the committee, which accompanies and manages the joint events on the occasion of the Jubilee of the reformation. He added: "Joint preparation is possible with the leadership circle. In accordance with the established principles of the Kirchentag this will appoint independent preparatory groups in the coming months for the individual projects". The Deputy Chairman of the leadership circle, Bishop Ralf Meister of Hanover, said "It is important that institutions such as the established Church and the German Protestant Kirchentag work together for the special event of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation 2017."
Members of the leadership circle of the Reformation Jubilee in 2017 (as of 26.10.2013)
- Pfarrerin Jacqueline Barraud-Volk, Marktbreit/Bayern (EKD, Präsidium der Synode)
- Oberlandeskirchenrat Dietrich Bauer, Dresden (Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Sachsens)
- Petra Detken, Bremen (DEKT, Landesaussch¨sse)
- Elisabeth Dieckmann, Frankfurt am Main (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen)
- Bischof Dr. Markus Dröge, Berlin (Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz)
- Bischöfin Kirsten Fehrs, Hamburg (Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Norddeutschland)
- Katrin Göring-Eckardt, Berlin (DEKT, Präsidium)
- Vizepräsident EKD Dr. Thies Gundlach, Hannover (EKD, Kirchenamt)
- Vorsitzender: Ministerpräsident a. D. Dr. Dr. h.c. Reinhard Höppner, Magdeburg (DEKT, Präsidium)
- Dr. Bernd Jaeger, Wien (Gemeinschaft Evangelischer Kirchen in Europa)
- Pastor Peter Jörgensen (Vereinigung Evangelischer Freikirchen, VEF)
- Landesbischof Dr. h.c. Frank O. July, Stuttgart (Lutherischer Weltbund)
- Kirchenpräsident Dr. Volker Jung, Darmstadt (Kuratorium Wittenbergstiftung)
- Landesbischöfin Ilse Junkermann, Magdeburg (Evangelische Kirche in Mitteldeutschland)
- Propst Siegfried Kasparick, Wittenberg (Evangelische Kirche in Mitteldeutschland)
- Präses Annette Kurschus, Bielefeld (EKD, Kirchenkonferenz)
- Landesbischof Ralf Meister, Hannover (EKD, Kirchenkonferenz)
- Prof. Dr. mult. Eckhard Nagel, Essen (DEKT, Präsidium)
- Oberbürgermeister Eckhard Naumann, Lutherstadt Wittenberg
- Prof. Dr. Gerhard Robbers, Trier (DEKT, Präsidium)
- Manfred Schwarz, Dortmund (DEKT, Landesausschüsse)
- Generalsekretärin Dr. Ellen Ueberschär, Fulda (DEKT)
- Prof. Dr. Ernst-Joachim Waschke, Halle (Evangelische Landeskirche Anhalt)
- Prof. Dr. Karin von Welck, Hamburg (DEKT, Präsidium)
- Vizepräsident Dr. Johann Weusmann, Düsseldorf (EKD, Kirchenkonferenz)
- Weltgemeinschaft Reformierter Kirchen, (to be appointed).
Many talk about Luther. The Kirchentag talks about Reformation. The Kirchentag has passionately renewed the Reformation heritage in the last 60 years and we approach the year 2017 with the same broad perspective. What does the Kirchentag have to contribute to the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation? How do we continue with inter-confessional and interreligious dialogue? Are both to be linked? What position do we attribute to religion in a secular society and how do we satisfy them as Christians in everyday life? How do Christians perceive their responsibility for society, if Europe is the most strongly secularized continent? Kirchentags do not talk about the priesthood of all believers, but they live on the laity of all denominations. 2017 is like a balcony with good views of the future.
From Thursday to Saturday the Presidium of the Kirchentag is placing some events in Wittenberg. With special trains from Berlin Central station you are in Wittenberg in 50 minutes. Although there are only a few locations for events, nevertheless many will use the opportunity to get to know Wittenberg.
After great Kirchentags in the East (Dresden 2011), North (2009 Bremen and Hamburg 2013) and South (Ecumenical Kirchentag in Munich 2010 and Stuttgart 2015) of Germany, a Kirchentag is planned in Berlin and Wittenberg for 2017 with the Kirchentag on the Way in six towns of central Germany. The high point of Kirchentag will be a great service of celebration on 28th May, 2017 on the Elbe meadows in front of the panorama of Wittenberg.
Erfurt and Jena in Thuringia, Magdeburg, Dessau and Halle in Saxony-Anhalt and Leipzig in Saxony are cultural, spiritual and tourist-attraction stops on the way to the large joint service of celebration on the Sunday in front of the gates of Wittenberg. Ecclesiastically, Dessau is in the Church of Anhalt and Leipzig in the Saxon Church. The other four towns are part of the Protestant Church of Central Germany. Into this attractive region come people who have always intended to get to know one of the oldest and most interesting cultural landscapes in Germany, who want to go on a pilgrimage, to get their relationship with God on track, to enjoy the culture, and experience close at hand the history of the Reformation and readily to enjoy community. There are people who are curious about the encounter with the everyday life of Christian communities in a strongly unchurched part of the world. People from the region are lured by Open-Air events and other attractive offers. A varied music and concert programme is available to teenagers and young adults. All are taken in and infected by high spirits before the service on Sunday in Wittenberg.
The towns offer a program that differs from the Kirchentag and yet clearly stands in the stream of reflection, remembrance and the anticipation of the next 500 years of Protestant community life. The programme is characteristic of the city and is adapted to their profile and their urban space.
It begins during the course of Ascension Day and will be there to be experienced until Saturday. One suggestion, for example, is to start simultaneously around 6.00 pm with an ecumenical church service for Ascension Day, which will also be celebrated in Berlin. In this way a worshipping community would be created across the network of towns.
With the Kirchentag on the Way the Kirchentag enters new territory. It requires thorough and good preparatory work, sufficient time and a realistic assessment and division of existing resources. For this reason programme committees were already appointed in October 2013 through the leadership circle. The invitation to participate follows at the end of 2015. Now already you can register your interest in a collaboration at firstname.lastname@example.org
The service of celebration is to take place on 28th May, 2017 in Wittenberg. The Reformation has borne many very different fruits. It was not a uniform movement, controlled centrally from Wittenberg. If the Kirchentag assumes responsibility for a service of celebration on the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, then the ambivalent and the diverse, theologically and liturgically, will be found in it. In accordance with Kirchentag principles the design will be in the hands of a project management team. It will be a Reformation service, a Thanksgiving service - thanks for God's goodness, thanks for the community of Lutheran and Reformed with many other denominations of world ecumenism. It will be a service of hope - a service to encourage, to carry forward the Gospel in the next 500 years also, to share with others - if God wills and we live.