“We want to empower youth in the church”

Synod president Schwaetzer looks forward to meeting with young people

At this synod “we clearly see the face of the future church”, said Irmgard Schwaetzer, president of the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) in her report. The EKD Synod is still convening in Würzburg.

Together with young people, the church wants to seek responses to a many different social questions “and make the church fit for the future”.

An important issue is the greater involvement of young people. Many of them felt that the church does not notice them. Others find the church so unfamiliar that they do not even notice it. “We are rising to this double challenge and I am very much looking forward to meeting with young people and discussing the issue in the next few days,” Schwaetzer said. About 60 young people from Würzburg, aged between 18 and 26, are participating in work on the synod theme, “I will see you again, then your hearts will rejoice” (John 16:22).

Schwaetzer particularly underlined three other topics:

Handling sexualised violence

Schwaetzer announced “further steps towards accountability and dealing with sexual abuse in the Protestant church“. She regretted that “we too have not created enough safe places for the children entrusted to us”. And she added: “We confess the guilt for which we as an institution take responsibility”.

Church in the digital transformation:

“We want our church to be lively at the places where young people are together,” Schwaetzer said. She reported that the church had taken note of empirical findings on the “changed behaviour of the younger generation regarding communication and information” and wanted to take greater account of that.

Church growing smaller

The numbers of church members will continue to drop as a result of demographic change, and revenue from church tax will decline accordingly. The EKD had to get used to this idea, Schwaetzer said. It was a matter of setting new priorities, where the church also had to “say goodbye to familiar things”.

Schwaetzer encouraged the members of synod to join in the plenary discussion as curiosity about the ideas and experiences of others could be “heartening and encouraging”. Here she was referring again to the synod theme, Jesus’ words to his disciples after his resurrection: “I will see you again, then your hearts will rejoice.” Only then did believers at the time realise that they alone “were responsible for keeping his message alive in the world”, just as we are today.

Hanover, 11 November 2018

EKD Press Office
Kerstin Kipp

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 11 to 14 November in Würzburg. 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 discusses 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. 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. 21.5 million Protestants belong to one of the 13,900 congregations.