Ecumencial Passiontide Service in Düsseldorf 2016 with President Manfred Rekowski and the Catholic Archbishop Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki.
Catholics and Other Churches
Co-operation with other Christian Churches
Local congregations and parishes, church
districts, dioceses and the Regional Church all make intensive efforts to
maintain ecumenical contacts. The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland has close
links not only with the Roman Catholic Church but also with the other Christian
Roman Catholic Church
EKiR has numerous contacts with partners in the Catholic Church. The
archdiocese of Cologne and the dioceses of Aachen and Trier lie within its
region. Parts of the EKiR region also extend into the dioceses of Münster,
Essen and Limburg.
The beginning of the relationships between the EKiR
and the Catholic dioceses can be given a precise date. It was at the first Kirchentag in Cologne in
1965 that the leading clergy of the two churches first spoke to one another.
A lot has happened since then, such as the mutual
recognition of Baptism. But there are many questions that still remain open,
especially those relating to the status of clerical office and to Holy
Communion. On the other hand, by 1993 the Regional Synod affirmed that the
churches “had come a great deal closer together, especially at the level of
local congregations”. Around 30 parish partnerships bear witness to this.
of Christian Churches in Germany (ACK)
All the churches that want to co-operate together
are members of the Council of Christian Churches in Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen =
ACK). As well as the Evangelical
Church there are the Roman Catholic Church, the Free Churches, the Orthodox
Churches, the Anglican and the Old Catholic Church.
As well as the national ACK covering the whole
Federal Republic, there are 15 regional Councils of Churches. The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland
belongs to the Southwest ACK (Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland) and to the ACK of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Important topics that have recently been dealt with by the churches include for
example the mutual recognition of Baptism, and our understanding of mission.
The Free Churches are those Protestant churches
that, like the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, mainly have their roots in
the Reformation. The strict separation
of Church and State, an objection to military service and the rejection of
infant baptism led to the rise of Free Churches such as Mennonites and Baptists
at an early date.
earlier times the relationship between the Free Churches and the Regional
Church were highly strained. Today things are substantially improved and since
1987 there has been pulpit and table fellowship with the Evangelical Methodist
Church in Germany (United Methodist Church).
There are also a number of members of the Free Churches who are involved
in working in many of the Evangelical Church institutions and in the Church’s
diaconal social work programmes.
EKiR maintains contacts with the Free Churches through the ACK and, together
with the Evangelical Church in Westphalia, regularly issues the invitation to
the Free Church Forum in North Rhine-Westphalia.
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