"European Cities of the Reformation" in two more countries

The capital of Alsace, Strasbourg, and the Austrian city of Villach have introduced “European Cities of the Reformation” to two more countries. This means that the prestigious emblem awarded by the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe – CPCE – to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation has already spread to five European countries during the first year of registrations. “We are currently processing 26 official applications from towns and cities throughout twelve countries,” the CPCE’s General Secretary Bishop Dr. Michael Bünker is happy to report, “and we are in touch with more than 50 in total. The CPCE’s cities project will illustrate the diverse character of the European dimension of the Reformation, as the cases of Strasbourg and Villach show.” Strasbourg was one of the major centres, alongside Wittenberg and Zurich (both of which already bear the title “European City of the Reformation”), of the 16th century Reformist movement. A programme is planned for 2017 that will highlight the prominent position that Katharina Schütz-Zell adopted in the Reformation in Strasbourg as one of the few women who assumed public roles as writers of the Reformation era. The city of Villach in Kärnten, situated as it is in the border region between Austria, Slovenia and Italy, was a centre of the early Reformist movement. It formed a key epicentre for the dispersion of the Reformation into the neighbouring cultural scenes. The Superintendent of Kärnten and the city authorities are working together to produce a concept for conveying the role of Villach in the Reformation era to a contemporary audience. Alongside Strasbourg and Villach, the “Lutheran Cities” of Worms and Coburg in Germany have also been awarded the “European City of the Reformation” emblem. In Worms, where Martin Luther promoted the Reformation on the most important stages of the Empire in 1521, there are plans to place the spotlight on matters of conscience with artistic and cultural events. Luther stayed at the Veste Coburg when the Imperial Diet convened in Augsburg in 1530. In total, four German cities by now hold the title of “European City of the Reformation”, and many more are waiting in the wings, according to CPCE General Secretary Bünker. “In terms of networking all the cities’ activities to commemorate the anniversary of the Reformation, we welcome the collaborative effort with the ‘Reformation Roadmap’ traced by the Evangelical Church in Germany – EKD,” Bünker says. German cities are allowed and encouraged to submit dual applications for the title of “European City of the Reformation” conferred by the CPCE and involvement in the EKD’s Reformation Roadmap. “The organising churches, towns or cities and, above all, the anticipated crowds of visitors should be fully informed of the entire spectrum of activities celebrating the anniversary of the Reformation.” A website to combine all this information is currently being compiled.

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European City of the Reformation