After four days, the 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag ended with forthright appeals for an active search for ecumenical and social coexistence and a willingness to take responsibility for this. At its conclusion, the organizers struck a positive balance.|
The 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag in Frankfurt ended with the closing service at the Weseler Werft. It was celebrated nationwide from Thursday to Sunday with a digital program on the internet and decentralized offerings. 400 guests attended the event in Frankfurt. It was due to the pandemic that the number of visitors was limited to this total.
In an address before the service, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said what a "wonderful sight" the gathering was for him after the past weeks and months of the pandemic. He looked at the social dimension of the crisis with anxiety and appealed to us not to lose sight of the socially deprived, those who worked hard for others, the lonely and people who experience violence. With reference to the motto of the ÖKT, he urged people to continue to take a look: "We have to heal the wounds that Corona has inflicted in our society." With the growing alienation of people in mind, he added: "We do not win the future by fighting with one another. We have to build bridges between people and groups of whom the pandemic has made enemies. We don't have to agree, but we need each other."
Archpriest Radu Constantin Miron, chairman of the Council of Christian Churches (ACK), bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg and Volker Jung, church president of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau (EKHN), led the service together. A pair of women preached: Mareike Bloedt, a pastor of the Evangelical Methodist Church, and the Superior General of the Oberzeller Franciscan Sisters, Sister Katharina Ganz. Both broached the issue of a new debate about justice triggered by the corona pandemic. Bloedt was confident: "In the midst of the crisis, God goes with you. He invites his people to share everything fairly." She encouraged her hearers to actively ensure justice themselves: "Let's not shirk responsibility! We make a difference when we care for people."
The ÖKT Co-Presidents Bettina Limperg and Thomas Sternberg jointly formulated the messages of the 3rd ÖKT by calling for Christians to work for the preservation of the livelihoods of future generations, to stand against hatred and agitation, and to respect the dignity of people worldwide and act accordingly. Enmities, nationalism and abuse of power should be countered decisively and loudly. The people in Israel and Palestine were especially thought of and encouraged to enter into dialogue even in seemingly hopeless situations.
The urgent request not to lose sight of the losers in the Corona crisis was very specific: "As Christians, we stand up for people who have got into emotional or economic hardship as a result of the pandemic. Everyone is called upon to to help. Take a look!" And as people set out from this ÖKT back to everyday life, both of them articulated this thought: "This is how we set off, motivated by the rich ecumenical experience. Strengthened by Christ's invitation to his table, we go into the world."
At the end of the service, Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, and the regional bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, invited everyone to the 102nd Katholikentag in Stuttgart (25-29 May , 2022) and the 38th German Protestant Kirchentag in Nuremberg (7-11 June, 2023).
At the end of the hundred or so digital events of the 3rd ÖKT and the nearly four hundred reported local events, the organizers and the host city drew a positive conclusion. Mayor Peter Feldmann looked back with satisfaction: "At this Ecumenical Kirchentag a lot was different because of the pandemic. And yet the Kirchentag remained true to itself. It stood for intense debates and interreligious exchange. The 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag showed that digital spaces do not have to be anonymous. They are also places of human interaction. Enabling encounters at a distance - the organizers have successfully faced this challenge. As the Mayor of Frankfurt, I am proud that we were able to host this very special church convention."
Despite minor technical problems, around 160,000 visitors were recorded on the website during the event. Around 1 million people watched the Ascension Service on Thursday on television. Among the live-streamed events, the most popular was the oratorio EINS with around 25,000 views. Around 1,600 helpers in the project "Take a look - Lend a hand" volunteered to take part in various projects on site.