German Protestant Kirchentag opens to call for renewal of global order

[WCC] Former United States president Barack Obama joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in front of tens of thousands of people on 25 May, the first full day of Germany’s biggest Protestant gathering, the Kirchentag, or “church festival”.

During a 90-minute podium discussion on democracy and global responsibility, Obama spoke of the need for the renewal of the international order against the background of xenophobia, nationalism, intolerance and anti-democratic trends. “We have to push back against those trends that would violate human rights, or that would suppress democracy, or would restrict individual freedoms of conscience and religion,” said the former US president. “We can’t isolate ourselves. We can’t hide behind a wall,” Obama said, speaking at the place where the city was once divided between East and West by the Berlin Wall.

Organised every two years in a different German city, the Kirchentag this year has gathered more than 100,000 participants of all ages in Berlin. “We hope the Kirchentag will promote a holistic vision of justice and peace that addresses the dynamics of conflict in different regions, the impact of foreign powers and changing global realities such as economic globalization, migration and climate change,” said Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Central Committee.

Dr Abuom is to speak at a Kirchentag podium on responsibility for peace with German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, one of the 2,000 events during the Kirchentag, many of which involve representatives of WCC member churches from several continents.

Bringing together figures from church, political, economic and national life, the Kirchentag serves as a major forum for debates on current social and political challenges, as well as offering opportunities for worship, music and culture.

Meeting from 24-28 May, the Kirchentag falls in the year of the 500th anniversary of the…

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