The 11th assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) was opened in Karlsruhe today with words of welcome and a worship service.
Attending the nine-day assembly, with its theme “The love of Christ moves the world to reconciliation and unity”, are 4000 Christians from approximately 120 countries, who have come to pray, discuss and celebrate together. Praeses Annette Kurschus, Chair of the Council of the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD – Protestant Church in Germany) stated during the opening plenary session. “Christ’s love is not sentimentality, it is practice: vigorous, bold, courageous, resilient.” After all, even a love that bears all things, believes all things, and hopes all things does not tolerate everything. “Love does not tolerate a war of aggression. For the sake of Christ’s love I want to believe, and I hope that your assembly will bear strong witness to this love.”
At the same time, the EKD Council chair highlighted the symbolism of Karlsruhe as the assembly venue. “This city is, at least for us in Germany, a tiny outpost of the kingdom of God, because it is here that every endeavour is made to hold high and defend human dignity. In Karlsruhe, the Federal Constitutional Court is the guardian of Article 1 of our constitution, which states: ‘Human dignity is inviolable.’ That means the dignity of every person, regardless of their origin, faith, gender, class or sexual orientation.”
“The mothers and fathers of democratic Germany placed this clause right in the forefront - before, beneath and above all other laws - when Nazi Germany had been overpowered and had collapsed, and the murdering in the gas chambers and on the battlefields had come to an end. It was not ‘Germany above all’. Not ‘nation, people, money above all’. It was ‘human dignity above all’!
“I dare to claim that Jesus would say: with this confession you are not far from the kingdom of God. After all, it is a confession, an article of faith, a declaration of defiance in face of the millionfold violation of human dignity that almost drives us to despair,” the EKD Council chair told the delegates, adding, “This is the secular form of what we believe - that in the human brothers and sisters who are violated, dispossessed and suffering violence Christ meets us and calls us to love.”
The assembly is the WCC’s highest decision-making body and, at the same time, the most all-embracing gathering of Christians worldwide. It generally convenes every eight years.
The WCC 11th assembly is taking place in Karlsruhe, Germany, at the joint invitation of the EKD, the Protestant Church in Baden, the Council of Christian Churches in Germany (ACK), the Union of Protestant Churches of Alsace and Lorraine (UEPAL) and the Protestant Church in Switzerland.
Representing the Protestant Church in Germany is at the assembly is a twelve-person strong delegation. Members include Bishop Petra Bosse-Huber (head of the EKD division of ecumenical relations and global ministries), Bishop Kristina Kühnbaum-Schmidt (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Northern Germany), Bishop Friedrich Kramer (Evangelical Church in Central Germany) and Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria).
Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will address the assembly in the afternoon. At 5:30 p.m. the opening service will take place on the Karlsruhe Festplatz with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East.
You can follow the opening service, in which EKD Council Chair Annette Kurschus will also take part, via live stream on www.oikoumene.org/live.
The members of the German delegation are listed here: www.ekd.de/deutsche-delegation-bei-der-vollversammlung-des-oerk-2022-74749.htm
Hanover, 31 August 2022
EKD Press Office