In the end, it went surprisingly quickly: Already in the second round, the regional synod of the Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia elected Christian Stablein as its new bishop.
He is the new evangelical capital bishop. But also the chief shepherd for the faithful who gather for worship Sunday after Sunday in Brandenburg and in Silesian Upper Lusatia – a total of 940.000 Protestants. Christian Stablein, since
2015 Provost of the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia (EKBO), was elected by the state synod on Friday in the second round of voting to succeed Bishop Markus Droge. The former deputy thus "inherits" his boss.
The 52-year-old theologian is originally from Lower Saxony. For just under four years, he has been a provost in a leading position at the EKBO, i.e. the theological head of the consistory, the highest administrative authority of the regional church. After the rather luckless Friederike von Kirchbach, Stablein succeeded in re-profiling the office of provost in the EKBO.
The marriage of same-sex couples introduced by the regional church or the current debate about the admission of children to the Lord's Supper would not be conceivable without the profound theological work of the provost, who is also a member of the synod of the Protestant Church in Germany.
Stablein approaches such topics dialogically, listens, does not rush ahead with his own position. He has earned the respect of the regional church for this. From 16. November, he will move his office from the third to the fourth floor of the consistory on Georgenkirchstrasse in Berlin. Because there resides since the times of Wolfgang Huber the bishop of the EKBO.
The newly elected bishop, however, will probably not change his style. "A bishop is a looker," Stablein told church parliamentarians immediately before the election in his typical staccato speech. "One who looks, asks, says, seeks how the communities are doing and how it is with God's word, in the world and for the world."The church, on the other hand, is a "community of stories" for the new bishop. A place to tell stories about God. The new bishop can also imagine a political church – "as long as it is not party-political".
An example of this can be found in the very south of the regional church, in Lusatia. Here, people have been arguing about the lignite phase-out for years. A few years ago, the EKBO established its own office there to accompany the upcoming structural change. "We are heavily involved in Lusatia because we believe that structural change needs civil society support," said Stablein. "As a strong voice of civil society, we also want to make this change possible." He therefore hopes that there will be a Lusatian fund that strengthens corresponding social concerns.
Parishioners run away
However, if you look closely in the EKBO, you will also notice that the church faces great challenges. For since 2004, it has seen nearly 300.000 parishioners lost. A turnaround is not in sight. "What matters is that we make the church missionary and attractive to the outside world, and stay together in diversity and colorfulness," Stablein said after his election.
"We need together all the good ideas and initiatives to speak as a Church beyond our space to society."People should be able to find in the Protestant church what they expect to find there: "Talking about how God's word comforts and sets free.""