On the way to Sibiu

“For us as Protestants, it is vital to participate in the public community.” With sentences like these, the theologian Adrian Schleifenbaum from Giessen opened the second Digital Academy of the Forum Young Theology in Europe. Only by participating in church and other social networks Protestants can share what they have, learn new things, celebrate life and ultimately put their theological insights into practice.

Volkmar Ortmann also says: “Participation is part of the DNA of Protestantism”. He is the head of the Forum Young Theology in Europe and the Digital Academy – seven digital lectures that took place from November to February under the theme of “Participation and Protestantism”. Ortmann is a private lecturer at the Justus-Liebig University in Giessen and a member of the board of the Protestant League of Hesse. Every fortnight, 20 mainly young theologians from different European countries and churches met via Zoom vor the digital lectures.

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Apply now for the second conference in Sibiu

The second conference will take place in Sibiu, also known under its German name Hermannstadt, in Romania from 12 to 15 April 2023. The theme is:
Taking responsibility – giving hope – being visible

At this conference, we want to discuss where Protestant influences manifest themselves in our European societies and where Protestantism becomes visible. We will examine these issues with reference to a range of religious-sociological and ecclesiological approaches. At the same time, we shall also consider the point at which Protestantism can and should assume responsibility and what rays of hope it can offer to society. The conference thus aims to reveal the binding points of Protestantism in Europe.
You will be accommodated in the Protestant Academy of Sibiu in a single room. Travel expenses incurred will be reimbursed upon request.
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Second Digital Academy on 3 November

Protestantism and Participation is the topic of the second part of the Forum Young Theology in Europe. It will start with a Digital Academy on 3 November 2022 with seven lectures every two weeks from 6 to 8 pm, followed by a conference in presence from 12-15 April 2023 in Sibiu, Romania. There the findings of the lectures will be deepened and specific output for the practice in school, parish, and civil society debates will be developed.

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Results of the Vienna conference

At the May 2022 meeting of the Forum Young Theology in Europe 20 participants produced various workshop outputs on the theme of nationalism and cosmopolitism.

At the May 2022 meeting of the Forum Young Theology in Europe 20 participants produced various workshop outputs on the theme of nationalism and cosmopolitism. First, they developed nine theses on inclusive identity in Christ. With a spiritual guide for worship and a lesson outline, the participants show how to put the theses into practice. Finally, they composed and wrote a canon.

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The eu as a strong foundation for the churches

Michael Bünker, former CPCE General Secretary shows the conference participants Vienna

Forum Young Theology in Europe met in Vienna

With much praise and fresh impetus, 22 young theologians from 12 countries look back on an eventful meeting of the Young Theology in Vienna in May 2022. The topic sounds rather difficult: “Protestantism between nationalism and cosmopolitanism”. Is there nationalism in the Protestant Church? “Yes,” says Volkmar Ortmann, Privatdozent in church history at the University of Giessen, Germany. 

“The Protestants are not everywhere as cosmopolitan as they like to claim.” That has a lot to do with the local historical developments. Ortmann, who organised this conference of the Protestant Federation of Hesse together with European partners, knows that Protestantism in Europe shows many traditions of its own, up to and including nationalistic currents. “But,” adds his colleague Mirijam Sauer, “language, nationality and identity naturally belong closely together.” Thus, Protestant minorities, as in Transylvania, find strength through their cultural imprint with their own identity. 

And because identity is far from being nationalism, the conference team developed the term “toxic nationalism” and distinguished it from “national identity”: “We can’t help it, says Anna Lerch from Switzerland, “where we were born, what language we learned first and what costume we wear at festivals”, but she is of the opinion that we are responsible for ensuring that this healthy “national identity” does not become toxic.

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Austrian Radio reports
Protestant churches – nationalistic or cosmopolitan?

photo: Dollar Gill on Unsplash

On 25 May 22, the third programme of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation reported on the Young Theology Forum, which the Protestant Federation of Hesse hosted with its partners CPCE and ZEO: “Not least because of their national church structure, Protestant churches are usually also closely confronted with the respective political leadership of their country, not only with regard to their positioning in the Ukraine war…” Listen to the whole contribution in this recording in German language

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