"Look honestly, trust each other, act together"

That is how the Programme of the 3rd Ecumenical Church Congress was presented at an on-line press conference from Frankfurt am Main on Tuesday March 30th.

With a largely new programmme structure using a central live stream, an ÖKT studio, an advanced programme and a digital meeting place, it will be a special event in an extraordinary time. The programme for the 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag is now digital and decentralized - and the appropriate ÖKT app can now be downloaded free of charge. Around 80 digital events have been developed, dealing with questions of faith and trust, social cohesion and growing global responsibility, all under the motto "take a look" (Mk 6.38). In doing so, grievances and successes are clearly brought into view and responsibility is named. The ÖKT wants to strengthen trust in one another and in God's promise.

The programme was presented today by the President of the 3rd Ecumenical Church Congress, Bettina Limperg and President Thomas Sternberg - as well as General Secretary Julia Helmke (German Evangelical Church Congress (DEKT)) and General Secretary Marc Frings (Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK)). Together with Stefanie Rentsch, Head of Studies at the German Evangelical Church Congress and Thomas Großmann, Head of the Catholic Days at the ZdK, those responsible paid tribute to the result of the programme planning.

"I'm happy that we stayed close to the wind," said Bettina Limperg. "The fact that the 3rd ÖKT is taking place as a major digital event is becoming a greater gift from day to day! Right now, the ÖKT offers a long-missed opportunity for discourse, orientation, support and, yes, consolation. We're tackling hot topics: power and abuse of power, poverty and injustice, the challenges of a digital society, and much more. To this end, we are creating opportunities for digital participation with workshops and barcamps*. And I'm happy that we can offer cultural events. Clearly: it will be worthwhile to be there!"

Thomas Sternberg affirmed this: "Especially in a time of global epidemic, the ÖKT is important: together we want to be the voice for those who are being pushed to the edge here and around the world by the pandemic, those who are falling by the wayside, who are currently lonely and experience fear. From Frankfurt, a plural city with so many different people and problems, we want to send a signal for the common commitment of all Christians."

"So much has just become mixed up," says Julia Helmke. "The 3rd ÖKT has also transformed itself several times. That is why it is more than ever an experimental laboratory and invites you to leave your comfort zone. The crucial thing about Kirchentags is the way they ask questions of church and society and develop them."

"The 3rd ÖKT wants to enable dialogue and exchange," says Marc Frings. "Channels of conversation seem to be getting lost in politics, society and churches. Instead, polemics, populism and provocation dominate. As the organizers of the 3rd Ecumenical Church Congress, we want to contribute to social understanding. Instead of listening into our own filter bubble, we look forward to a constructive culture of debate. The 3rd ÖKT falls in a German super-election year. So let's look at the issues that concern us as Christians. For me, these are, above all, questions of social cohesion and the international commitment to human rights and international law."

* barcamps: open conferences where everybody has equal speaking rights (Translator's note)