Liturgical consultation

Representatives of the Protestant churches in Europe have met for their first ever consultation on religious worship. The meeting, which was organised by the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) and held in the Michaeliskloster of Hildesheim, Germany, focussed on the central meaning of religious worship and church music for contemporary Protestant churches under the banner “Unity of the Church – diversity of liturgies”.

It is not diversity in itself that represents a problem within the church community, but the reluctance to celebrate with people whose faith (in God) is different. This was the provocative introduction that practical theologian Ralph Kunz (Zurich) chose to focus the participants’ attention on the heart of the matter, that being Jesus Christ. As a church that sings the song of freedom, we are inviting and attractive. Music is a key trademark of the 21st century Protestant Church – is how Jochen Arnold sought to encourage delegates to continue ringing out the reformatory treasure trove of spiritual song.

Workshops and discussions explored the use of liturgical language. How can it be formulated in a contemporary yet sacred way at one and the same time? Time and again, the group encountered the tension that arises between concentration on the central core and efforts to open up towards the outside, which arises equally in liturgy and music. The quality of worship and missionary purpose formed further issues of debate. The group of specialists in liturgy and church music also turned their attention to celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation throughout Europe.

Worship was not only the subject of lively discussion because the group also formed its own fellowship of worship – at a celebratory service of communion, led by Regional Bishop Ralf Meister in the form of ecumenical evening prayer in the renovated Hildesheim Cathedral, and in a multilingual liturgical circuit in St. Michael’s. The delegates to the consultation joined together from many different countries: Denmark, Romania, Finland, France, Belgium, Germany, Latvia, Estonia, Liechtenstein, Italy, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

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