Heat, debates, silence

Heat, debates, silence

On Sunday, another 90 or so people came to the.000 people at the grand closing service. The 35. German Protestant Kirchentag in Stuttgart is history. What remains of the Christian meeting?

Sunday, 7. June 2015: The German Protestant Church Congress (DEKT) ends with a church service at the Cannstatter Wasen in Stuttgart. Some 300 kilometers to the southeast, the G7 summit of the most powerful economic nations begins at Elmau Castle in Bavaria. As far as the media presence of the major events was concerned, it was the same as with the thunderclouds that appeared here and there in front of the sun in the midsummer heat of Stuttgart. The Kirchentag in the Swabian metropolis rutted by the "Stuttgart 21" train station construction project was somewhat overshadowed by the politicians' meeting in the luxury resort at the foot of the Alps.

Cool heads despite heat

The approximately 97.000 permanent participants and 37.000 day visitors kept their cool despite record-breaking temperatures beyond 30 degrees. The sweaty heat "dripped easily" on the Kirchentag goers, organizers reported. "so that we may become wise" was the motto of the meeting. Even if perhaps some from the abundance of 2.500 events, I couldn't quite figure it out: There were them, the moments of insight. As well as insights into current political and social debates.

German President Joachim Gauck encouraged greater confidence, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) discussed the digital transformation, her Vice Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) commented on the TTIP transatlantic free trade agreement, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere (CDU) spoke out on church asylum. The topic of homosexuals and the church was on the agenda, as was the dialogue between religions. There were peace demonstrations and – reminiscent of "Stuttgart 21" – protest events under the title "Can train stations be a sin??".

Positive outcome

Even if never all can share everything: For the organizers, the Kirchentag more than met expectations as a forum for encounter and exchange. She has noticed a "new thoughtfulness," said DEKT Secretary General Ellen Ueberschar. The chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, was "inspired" and "enthusiastic". The local bishops, Frank Otfried July of Wurttemberg and his Catholic brother, Bishop Gebhard Furst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, expressed similar sentiments. "Where else can you find such courageous and serious debates about the important ies of our time?", asked Prince.

Church and Catholic Days – they are also an opportunity for contemplation and silence. Tens of thousands made morning pilgrimage to Bible studies. The events, at which prominent figures from church and society interpret texts from the Old and New Testaments, are traditionally part of the program. Among others, the chairman of the Catholic German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the prime minister of Baden-Wurttemberg, Winfried Kretschmann (Greens), and the former chairwoman of the EKD Council, Margot Kabmann, also attended the event.

Also resonates with Catholic Church

The House of the Catholic Church on Stuttgart's main shopping boulevard, Konigstrasse, met with a surprisingly large response. Above all, the "Room of Silence" attracted many people in the midst of the hustle and bustle and the heat. A similar atmosphere prevailed in and around the Berger Church. There the ecumenical association had pitched its tents ?other times?. Even celebrities such as Federal Family Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) made a detour there.

The joint appearance of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan brought goosebumps of a different kind. In the Hanns Martin Schleyer Hall, which was filled to capacity, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate appealed in a low voice not to lose faith in big politics – and to become active in order to fight for justice in the world. Actually not a bad message with regard to the G7 summit. At the end of the speech, the audience rose from their seats. Standing ovation for Kofi Annan.

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