“The ecumenical movement is about encounter. And that’s what we do here in Bossey.” This, in a nutshell, is the mission of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey of the World Council of Churches according to Rev. Dr Benjamin Simon, Professor of Ecumenical Missiology. The recent visit to the Institute by a group of theologians from the Rhineland and Westphalia became a special time of encounter indeed.
The first-ever youth synod of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland concluded on 6 January in Bad Neuenahr with five resolutions for the regional synod beginning the next day. It proved a positive experience. The youth synod had given a “strong signal” for more participation by the younger generation, President Manfred Rekowski explained at the synod’s closing press conference.
It is a “premiere”, according to President Manfred Rekowski. For the first time in the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland there will be a youth synod. It is taking place on 4-6 January 2019. And what is exceptional is that half of its delegates will be youth and half will come from the regional synod.
In the Summer of 2017 Dr Christoph Zenses spent three weeks as a doctor on board the Sea-Watch rescue boat, and a year later he also got involved at the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos. These assignments pushed the doctor from Solingen to his limits. But he is planning to return there in 2019. From conviction.
In the beginning was the Word. The biblical Word. In this case, Psalm 139: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And such was the title of a parish project in Wuppertal: “Wonderfully made. Seniors of Uellendahl photographed by Andrea Rompa.” Photographed in the nude.
Learning from each other and building peace: For 16 years the secondary schools Bodelschwingh-Gymnasium in Herchen and the Goethe School in Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia have been cultivating a close partnership. School director Dr Judith Pschibille has been awarded the Medal of Friendship at the Mongolian Embassy in Berlin for her engagement.
The voice search trend. Using chatbots. Podcast tips. Developments in digital learning. Latest discussion about virtual church. WhatsApp features. Lots of topics, lots of sessions, lots of sunshine: BarCamp Church online in Cologne brought together hundreds of church onliners and digital specialists. A photo story
Church president and EKD migration expert Manfred Rekowski makes appeal in Malta to allow rescue ships to go to sea. He calls on governments and political leaders in Europe to stop breaking international law and criminalising civilian rescuers of persons in distress at sea.
Sometimes the sea rescuers have to make horrible decisions: keep resuscitating someone or keep saving more people from drowning? Sea Watch crew member and physician Barbara remembers a night she will never forget. Watch the video where she pledges to fight on for the right to rescue.
Sharp criticism of the charges against private rescue ships in the Mediterranean has come from Manfred Rekowski, president of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland and chair of the advisory commission on Migration and Integration of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).
“I absolutely want to get to know all sides of Israel,” says secondary-school graduate Paul Bochynek from Cologne. Together with other young adults, he is starting a term of voluntary service this summer in the Israeli peace village Nes Ammim. Spots are still open for other interested youth.
The situation in Syria is becoming ever more dramatic, especially in Eastern Ghouta, where people are starving and dying and medical care has collapsed. The Rhineland Church declares its solidarity with the victims of the civil war and President Manfred Rekowski has issued a call to prayer for the people of Syria.
The Rhineland Church has a commitment to Muslim-Christian dialogue and describes it as a “church task” which Christians need to acknowledge as bound up with their witness to Jesus Christ. This was affirmed by the Regional Synod in its theological position statement “On encounter with Muslims”.
On the occasion of the centenary of the end of the First World War, the Regional Synod has adopted a peace statement. This is to be discussed at all levels of the Rhineland Church, with the aim of becoming a ‘Just Peace Church’. It also includes demands for the removal of nuclear weapons and putting a stop to arms exports.
“Refugee Reporting” is the title of an international survey on the representation of refugees in the media. One of the conclusions is that the voices of the refugees themselves are hardly ever heard, according to Ralf Peter Reimann, internet officer of the Rhineland Church and a member of the Steering Group for the project.
‘On the way together as Christians’. At an Ecumenical Service of Vespers on the occasion of Reformation Day in Altenberg Cathedral, the President of the Rhineland Church Manfred Rekowski and the Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki emphasised the unifying bond of baptism.
It was the biggest Germany-wide celebration for the close of the Reformation Anniversary year. The Gala held in the Bonn Telekom Dome included prominent guests such as the television presenter Ralph Caspers, Football League trainer Heiko Herrlich and comedian Willibert Pauels, all of whom were able to bear witness to the fact that Luther is still an inspiration for today.
An impetus for the Church in a digital age: the Church Online barcamp met last weekend in Cologne. A barcamp is an open conference with open workshops, the contents and procedure of which is developed and shaped by the participants themselves.
Calls for joint action came at the end of Conference of the International Council of Christians and Jews. Speakers at the meeting of the umbrella organisation emphasised that with regard to co-operation, dialogue was begun in the immediate post-war years and is still in its early stages.
The basis for the idea of the “confi-starter” programme in the Emmaus Church in Aachen is that children will stay in the church so long as their interest in religious matters remains strong. Over the period of a year a group of eight-year-olds get to know their church community and gather positive experiences, four years before they eventually start their formal confirmation classes.
“I am overwhelmed by the joyful and warm atmosphere and by the huge interest in Christian issues of the day” stated OKR Barbara Rudolph, director of the department of theology and ecumenism in the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland. “Those who were here today saw ecumenism as a something to be taken as a matter of course”.
Military intervention is not necessarily the appropriate option, since it may well be possible to resolve conflicts through peaceful means. The first group of peacemakers trained by the Rhineland Church have been learning about what sort of models there are for this. They have then been passing on their knowledge to school children and youth groups.
President Donald Trump is splitting American church congregations. Some support his policies while others protest against them – such as the United Church of Christ (UCC). During a recent visit to Germany Sigrid Rother, a German pastor serving as minister in a UCC congregation in Ohio, spoke about the concerns of liberal Christians.
In the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland the fact of women in ministry is taken for granted. In some East European churches however, women’s ordination is still not possible or has even been withdrawn. How do those women who are affected deal with this? At a meeting in Düsseldorf two women theologians exchanged their views with OKR Barbara Rudolph.
At a festive service of worship in the Johanniskirche in Düsseldorf, President Manfred Rekowski inducted into office those members of the executive board of the Rhineland Church who had been newly elected by the 2017 Regional Church Synod, along with those who had been elected for a further term of service.
Federal German laws bear witness to tolerance in respect of gender justice. But society is lagging behind. Dr Claudia Janssen, Professor of Feminist Theology and Theological Gender Research at the Wuppertal/Bethel Theological College speaks about feelings of insecurity, fears and hate-mail.
Representatives of Protestant Churches in Germany and Namibia met at the end of January 2017 in the city of Okahandja in Namibia, to commemorate the genocide committed by the German colonial troops against the Herero and Nama people during the years from 1904 to 1908.
Three representatives of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, the Evangelical Church of Westphalia and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Essen signed a joint declaration and agreed on concrete forms of co-operation in local community development, as well as working together in a variety of different fields of church activity and areas of responsibility.
The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland is a church linked by a global network to many different international partners abroad as well as within Germany itself. From now on everyone will be able to get immediate information about us on our new English-language website, including information about our history, our structure, what we do and what we believe.
The new composition of the church executive board, with one substitute representative. Nine members were elected or re-elected. The remaining members did not stand for election according to the rules of rotation. Those elected will take up office at their induction on 5 March.
Topics covered by the President in his Presidential Report included the Reformation anniversary, faith and ecumenism, continuing development of the church including new styles of local church congregations, social justice, terrorist attacks, and statements from the Alternative for Germany (AfD).
“I’m full of joy, redeemed, set free” is the slogan being used by the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. It is taken from the opening lines of a psalm-poem by the Rhineland cabaret artist and writer Hanns Dieter Hüsch (1925-2005).