Today sees the opening in Bonn of the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). 120 members of synod from all over Germany will take stock of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and examine the priorities of EKD activity for the coming years. In his address to Synod, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Lutheran Bishop of Bavaria and EKD Council chair, underlined: “In many respects this year has been an occasion for great gratitude.” Reformation Day had been celebrated very impressively in Wittenberg, he stated. Bedford-Strohm added: “What cheered me most, however, were the reports from everywhere in the country about the Reformation Day church services.” Long queues had formed outside many churches on 31 October, a public holiday all over Germany. Bedford-Strohm noted further that, during the whole of autumn, events and exhibitions about the Reformation anniversary had attracted crowds of visitors.
In view of a still polarized social climate on migration policy, which German President Steinmeier had called a “moral battleground”, Bedford-Strohm self-critically assessed church debates on the matter: “In theology we talk about promise and demand. A demand can only lead to really energetic action when it is founded in a promise, when the strength to act is released. Far too often, only the demand has come across in our public statements.” What Martin Luther described in his treatise “The freedom of a Christian” was precisely not action as a consequence of moral appeals but action from inner freedom. Bedford-Strohm: “This feeling of inner freedom does then lead to action but not to action from a bad conscience, based on political correctness or the attempt to gain the moral high-ground, but really to action stemming from freedom. Such action inspired by freedom does not condemn others.” The EKD Council chair underlined: “Rarely was it so important for Christians to give an authentic witness to faith in discussions with a troubled pluralist public as it is in these times.”
With respect to the current areas of action of the Protestant church, Bedford-Strohm emphasized: “In view of the alarming findings about the break with tradition, one of the central challenges for the church of the future will be involving young people. Young people are still under-represented in places where decisions are taken. From the church council to the Council of the EKD.”
The EKD Synod is meeting in Bonn at the same time as the UN climate summit COP 23. Bishop Bedford-Strohm: “I hope that the Bonn climate conference will also send a strong signal to the new US administration: Don’t torpedo the Paris climate accord. Be part of a coalition of the willing when it comes to protecting the climate on our planet.”
Bonn, 12 November 2017
EKD Press Office
About the EKD Synod: The EKD Synod, with the Council and Church Conference, is one of the three governing bodies of the EKD. It is convening from 12 to 15 November in Bonn. In accordance with the EKD’s constitution, the 12th Synod has 120 members. The assignments of Synod include drafting declarations and decisions on contemporary questions and accompanying the work of the EKD Council by issuing guidelines. Synod also discuses and adopts the budget and church laws. Synod is chaired by a body of moderators (presidium), under its president Irmgard Schwaetzer. She is also a member of the 15-person EKD Council to be elected in Bremen. Chair of the EKD Council is the Lutheran Bishop of Bavaria, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm. The EKD is a community of 20 Lutheran, Reformed and United regional churches in Germany. 21.9 million Protestants belong to one of the 14,412 congregations.
Bedford-Strohm reports to the EKD Synod in Bonn