Taking responsibility – giving hope – being visible was the title of the conference held in Sibiu, Romania from 12th-15th April. 12 theologians – all of them in early stages of their careers – from 9 European countries met to discuss where Protestant influences manifest themselves in European societies and where Protestantism becomes visible. “Theology unites Europe!” commented Volkmar Ortmann, associate professor at the University of Giessen and one of the organisers of the conference, seeing the lively discussions between participants coming from very different backgrounds and regions.Continue reading “This was the Sibiu conference”
Being a Christian is always expressed in concrete action, not only in the inner circle, but also in society in general. Therefore, we and our roots become visible. Biblical texts like Matthew 5,46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” make it clear that ACTING makes us visible: we are not helping only those who are already close to us. Places for visible acts of the protestant community are not limited to the parish hall or the church – even though those might be the most obvious visible places within a parish. And the target group of projects is not only the protestant community, but also the surrounding neighbourhood and society. There are a multitude of possibilities to create awareness for certain topics, to engage with contemporary issues, to set an agenda and to encourage others to act.
The following outline offers a suggestion on how the church can get involved in a specific way in a neighbourhood and become visible: By organizing a storytelling café! A storytelling café is a low-threshold format in which different people can engage with each other. Community members, “witnesses” (people affected by a chosen topic and/or their advocates), neighbours, activists and politicians from the district are invited. A very good moderator ensures that everyone is heard. Thus, the parish gives an impulse to society and ideally this leads to a series of storytelling cafés in other places in the district. Beyond this event, results/outputs can be solidarity campaigns, both online and offline, but also a handout that enables other congregations to conduct similar discussion processes in their neighbourhoods, whereby the format can be implemented in both urban and rural areas.
Why do we need a participative liturgy?
Liturgy is the backbone of our life of faith in community. In our different home churches, there are different liturgical forms because our cultural contexts and histories are different. But how can people engage with their own liturgy? How can they feel included in this effort of speaking about God and God’s relation to humanity? How can they be called to participate more and not letting the entire liturgical work to pastors or theologians? In the following, you will find some liturgical propositions for the preparation of a common prayer in your community especially with teenagers and young adults.Continue reading “Participation and Liturgy”
Taking advantage of our skills: what protestants are good at
The protestant churches have a strong exegetical tradition. Ministers are almost always required to learn biblical languages as part of their formation and they are trained to read and explain difficult texts. The skills should be implemented in the everyday life of the congregation as a possibility for the interested, not only for church members but open to everyone.
This could mean:Continue reading “Enhancing Participation in the Congregation”
Continue reading “Where Protestantism becomes visible”
Where Protestant influences manifest themselves in European societies and where Protestantism becomes visible – these questions were discussed by 12 young theologians from 9 European countries at their conference in Sibiu, Romania April 12th-15th. Volkmar Ortmann, associate professor at the University of Giessen and board member of the Protetant League Hesse was impressed by the great commitment and the focused cooperation of the participants despite their different contexts and theological backgrounds. For him, it showed that “theology unites Europe.”
“We became courage” was one among many phrases Gerhard Servatius-Depner coined during this years conference in Sibiu. For me it is an appropriate summary of three days filled with laughter and joy, deep conversation and thoughts about theological and at the same time personal issues. I returned home full of courage and hope for the future and as a part of a European network of young theologians. Having had the chance to getting to know so many engaged theologians from different countries and churches in my age who are all interested in dialogue between church traditions was pretty unique!Continue reading “Hanna Kehrein”
My name is Benedikt Jetter.
Right on the ‘Forum Young Theology’ conference in Sibiu in 2023, I turned 34. My ecclesiastical background is the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg (Germany), where I’m serving as pastor in the region of Stuttgart. Born in the year of the fall of the Berlin wall, I feel European in the broadest and most positive sense. Still, in the last years, I have the impression, that crossing borders and linking people from differing historical, emotional and confessional contexts, is not as obvious as it might seem. There’s still a lot of relations to establish. From my civil service in France with the organization ‘Initiative Christians for Europe’, I adopted the motto ‘building bridges for Europe’. Almost everything I do, is somehow related to that, always in the perspective of the One Church of Jesus Christ transcending time & space and all human borders. Europe has become for me a fascinating ‘training area’ (referring to ‘train’ both as exercising and using the railway). Through studies abroad internships, steward programmes, conferences and work stays in different churches, I got acquainted with broad parts of the ecumenical family, where I feel spiritually at home.