More creative church services, good offers for young people and a different way for the church to deal with divorced people and homosexuals – these are the demands of the participants in the “Dialogue Project” in Aachen initiated by Bishop Dieser.
In the diocese of Aachen, Vicar General Andreas Frick gave journalists a positive interim assessment of the “Today with you” discussion process launched eight months ago on Friday.
50 Kitchen table conversations outside the church milieu
20 percent of the 2.000 participants do not come from the church milieu, says Frick. This is “a good start”. With the action it was possible to cross borders, added the coordination office director of the “Today with you” – process, Jurgen Jansen.
At the beginning of the year, Bishop Dieser had announced the dialogue process, which is also intended to address people who have distanced themselves from the Church or who have not yet had any contact with it.
In a first phase, he, the vicar general and the two Aachen suffragan bishops conducted about 50 kitchen-table talks in private homes, in which, according to the diocese, about 520 people participated.
Lively church services, role of women, joint communion
In addition, “meeteat” events were held in the eight diocesan regions, each with 120 to 180 participants. From all the encounters, 3.400 individual statements were documented, it said. According to the information, the participants pleaded for church services with more true-to-life sermons, modern music and youth-relevant topics.
There was also a call to increase the presence of the Church in social networks and on the Internet – for example, through online parishes via Skype. “The theme of youth runs through all the feedback like a common thread,” Jansen said. Thus, he said, great importance is also attached to religious education, because young people often only come into contact with faith and the church there.
According to Jansen and Frick, there was also criticism of celibacy, the role of women in the church, the “no” vote on practiced homosexuality, and the treatment of remarried divorcees. In addition, he said, there has been a call for the Protestant partner in a mixed-denomination marriage to be able to participate in communion.
Project is scheduled to run for three years
“Today with you” process enters next phase in November. In three large forums, the topics of worship, the charitable activities of the church and its presence in places such as schools, daycare centers and youth facilities will be discussed.
These and other topics are also taken up by 13 “sub-process groups”, which will meet regularly from the end of October. Overall, the dialogue process is scheduled to last three years. In 2021, decisions on structural reforms in the diocese should then also fall.