The 38th German Evangelical Church Congress has started in Nuremberg. As cheerful as the atmosphere at the opening was, serious issues will be discussed in the coming days.
The 38th German Evangelical Church Congress started with a service in Nuremberg. In his speech, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for solidarity in order to counteract the climate crisis. The question is how to act quickly and take as many people with us, he said on Wednesday after the opening service. This can only be achieved together.
“I understand the impatience, even the desperation, of many young people when it comes to climate protection, because their future is at stake. But we have to find ways that everyone can go together. And we have to make sure that the weaker ones also have something to gain. “
One has to carry the other’s burden. Solidarity has always made Germany strong. Christians are important for this: “We urgently need the church as a place of discussion, now and in the future.”
Bedford-Strohm: Radically changing goals
Previously, the Bavarian Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm had explained in his sermon that society must radically change its goals: “We will no longer attach our happiness to the growth of material prosperity, but to the growth of relationship prosperity. We will no longer judge our freedom accordingly , how high the speedometer may go, but that we move in accordance with creation.”
According to estimates by the Kirchentag organizers, around 20,000 people attended the service. Another opening service was celebrated at the Kornmarkt, which was attended by 10,000 people.
“Yes, we want to realign our lives, from now on. We don’t want to live against each other in the world, but with each other. And we want to hope,” Bedford-Strohm continued. Climate change is now forcing us to rethink – and to fight. “Fight for our children. They should drink clear water, they should enjoy butterflies.” The multi-day meeting of faith officially began with the service. “The Kirchentag is open,” said the President of the Kirchentag, Thomas de Maizière, to the applause of those who attended the service.
Also war in Ukraine topic
Steinmeier also addressed Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and defended the supply of arms to Ukraine: “Besides all the other efforts – it’s also time for arms.” It must be a just peace. “If Ukraine stops defending, it will be the end of Ukraine,” he said. However, he admitted that the war has thrown many Christians into a deep dilemma: “How is it compatible with the Christian command of peace if we deliver weapons to a war zone?”
At the press conference at the start of the Kirchentag, the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) rejected a replacement of state services for the churches in Germany. “I am against these plans,” he said. He was against banning the church from public life.
The money is state consideration for the expropriation of German churches and monasteries at the beginning of the 19th century as part of secularization. With the exception of Hamburg and Bremen, all federal states therefore pay an annual sum to the Catholic and Protestant churches. Most recently it was around 550 million euros per year.
In the run-up, there had been criticism that the Kirchentag, for which, according to the organizers, around 60,000 tickets had been sold by the start, was also being financed from public money.
According to the head of the Kirchentag, Stephan Menzel, the Kirchentag has a budget of 20.5 million euros for two years. This includes 5.6 million euros from the Bavarian state church, 5.5 million euros from the Free State of Bavaria and 3 million euros from the city of Nuremberg. Up to one million euros in non-cash benefits can also be added.
Around 2000 events are planned as part of the Kirchentag – primarily in Nuremberg, but also in the neighboring city of Fürth. “Now is the time” is the motto of the great faith meeting, it comes from the Gospel according to Mark.
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