Young Theologians from across the European continent came together in Leipzig earlier in October. The occasion? The penultimate meeting of the Young Theologians in Communion group of the CPCE.
The Young Theologians in Communion are a group of (you guessed it) young theologians from various CPCE member churches. These individuals have engaged in study conferences over the past 3 years and many have gotten involved in CPCE working processes and regional groups, deepening their ties to CPCE and giving said groups fresh perspectives on complex church issues.
Mario Fischer and Oliver Engelhardt of the CPCE office in Vienna kicked off proceedings with an update on the various working processes and events taking place in the CPCE, highlighting the 50th Anniversary celebrations taking place across Europe. The YTs then discussed the working groups and regional groups they have been involved with over the past months. These included talks on Holy Communion, Christian Speaking of God, Liturgy, Democracy and the Church, and many more. The reports detailed what has changed in the past months, conflicts and irritations that arose within the working groups, and ways to move forward with the texts and work being done.
A Young Theologians conference would not be complete without a lesson on the history and current situation of the meeting location. Thankfully, Christoph Kähler, bishop emeritus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia, paid a visit to the group and shared some of his experiences growing up in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR). His thoughtful and engaging storytelling left the group with a much better understanding of life as a Christian under a communist regime and more context on the festivities occurring that very day in Leipzig: Lichtfest.
October 9 is a day of celebration in Leipzig, because it was on this day in 1989 that people took to the streets in protest of communist rule there, and peacefully demonstrated. Church in these days in the DDR served as meeting point and place to share ideas freely. Nikolaikirche and the peace prayers held there played a critical role in these protests.
The young theologians had the pleasure of attending Nikolaikirche for the yearly prayer service commemorating the anniversary and seeing for themselves the place where the events of October 9 took place.