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Franciscans and friends at the Kirchentag in Berlin and Wittenburg – 24 – 28th May 2017

Br Hugh; Br Micael Christoffer; Br Robert; Dörte

Brs Robert, Micael Cristoffer, Hugh were joined by Darius and Dörte, present and past volunteers respectively at Hilfield from the church in the Rhineland at this four day event which the Evangelical – Lutheran – Church holds in a different German city every 2 years. This year Berlin and Wittenburg had been chosen as it is the 500th Anniversary of the start of Luther’s reformation. We were part of over 100,000 people attending. Brothers, both British and German have attended over the years but this was the first time we had gone as a group with an official stall.

Our stall, with a display in both English and German, was open from Wed 24th May till Sat 27th. We had been placed by a main entrance into our enormous hall, the market of opportunities, only one of several similar halls in the Messe, the Expo Centre. During the week we could sample only a fraction of the other stalls, and even less of the city wide events, even though some were translated or in English. Many people were intrigued by the existence of Anglican Franciscans in England and many stopped to talk. It was really good to have three native German speakers among us; nevertheless many visitors to our stall spoke sufficient English so all of us could participate. We gave out hundreds of Franciscan magazines and leaflets, and invited many to visit us, or even to join us. It was very hot, and we gave out lots of cups of tea too.

We also renewed contacts with some members of German communities and orders, as well as meeting some TSSF who were visiting from the UK, and a number of theological students with excellent English.

L-R: Br Robert; Darius; Br Hugh; Br Micael Christoffer

The pictures show our stall, which we staffed in shifts while the others explored elsewhere; the opening service (in which Justin Welby spoke) was held at the Bundestag. We heard Barak Obama and Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, speaking to thousands the next day, in the Kirchentag tradition of politicians being involved, and various outside musical events. We spent a lot of time travelling on trams and buses round Berlin between the school where we slept to the east of the centre, and the Expo Centre to the west; so different to when I last visited in 1983 – there are now very few traces of the wall left.

Luther and family?

Robert and Micael spent the final Sunday at Wittenburg, Luther’s town, and only 50 mins by train from Berlin, at an enormous celebration.

We are already looking forward to the next Kirchentag in 2019.

The Bundestag

Martin Luther with one of his Swedish sons!

The final celebration in Wittenburg