The common basis for an Ecumenical Kirchentag is the foundation of faith shared by all Christian denominations, as handed down to us in the biblical texts and the faith in the triune God as expressed in the confessions of the early Church.
These core statements define the thematic orientation of an Ecumenical Kirchentag: God’s unconditional affirmation of us human beings, Jesus Christ’s command to love, faith in the forgiveness of guilt and sin, justification through faith alone, and the calling to go into the world.
Christians of all denominations are bound together through baptism, the common praise of the living God and in faith in God’s presence, made manifest in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet often these bonds are not visible. At times in our church life we even act more against than with one another. That is something we, the presidial committees of the German Protestant Kirchentag (DEKT) and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), do not want to accept.
At the 1st Ecumenical Kirchentag of 2003, as at the 2nd of 2010, we found that the joint orientation to baptism and engagement in the world was a good and important experience. But we are still wrestling with the questions of a joint Eucharist and church unity. We have not given up the hope of coming closer on these matters, too, and we want to take further steps towards one another.
1. Witnessing together and helping to shape the world
An Ecumenical Kirchentag is a prominent place for joint Christian witness in our country, demonstrating – across all denominational boundaries – that what unites us in our faith is stronger and more important than what divides us.
What unites us includes the conviction that our mission as Christians is to help shape the world with our values and beliefs. The Christian confession of faith in God leads us to unconditionally respect the dignity of all people and to stand up for just, peaceful living together. This applies across all borders and beyond all nationalism, along with advocacy for a Europe of solidarity and for global justice. Together we strive for justice, peace and development. We want to engage in sustainable stewardship of creation and to resolutely take up the cause of those on the margins of society. After all, we Christians are a social force that can make a major impact in the world. We share responsibility in public and political life, for devising a more just economic and social order, in science and technology, culture and the media. We want to take this responsibility with and for others, regardless of their faith, regardless of their origin.
2. Encountering one another openly in all our diversity and difference
An Ecumenical Kirchentag is a space in which, on the basis of their respective traditions, Christians of different confessions, members of other religions and people of other beliefs can encounter each other in all their difference and diversity – and develop more sensitivity and understanding for one another
Where there are differences within and among the denominations in terms of piety and liturgy, but also in everyday routine and personal life, these differences are allowed toremain recognisable and, at the same time, to be experienced as mutual enrichment. Together we find new forms of liturgy in which we bridge the unfamiliarity, fill in gaps in our knowledge, gain new experiences and insights, and get a better sense of the inward ties that bind all Christians.
An Ecumenical Kirchentag is a place where we talk frankly about the situation in the parishes, questions arising from coexistence or conviviality on a daily basis, and together seek answers.
More and more people have no connection with God or Christian faith, or are not even interested. We are connected to them, too, on important issues. We seek conversation with them on matters of practical action and its guiding principles. This conversation calls for new approaches and fresh forms of language. At the 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag we aim to develop initiatives of this kind.
3. Taking new steps on the path towards unity
There are many different ecumenical initiatives and activities in our country and worldwide. On the path towards the visible unity of all Christians, the 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag offers an opportunity to step closer to each other on key questions. That includes agreeing on what we mean when we talk about church unity. We want to emphasise what we have in common but not be silent on what continues to divide us.
At the 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag in Frankfurt/Main we will together experience and celebrate what is possible in terms of common worship, liturgical acts and spiritual experiences. Furthermore, we intend to develop, discuss and practise new forms in such a way that they have a lasting effect beyond the Kirchentag.
We are longing to be able to share the Lord’s Supper / the Eucharist together. For that reason, we will do our utmost, with stronger cooperation, to achieve the possibility of joint communion – in the preparatory period, during the days in Frankfurt/Main and after the Ecumenical Kirchentag.
Ecumenical progress is possible and urgently necessary. We do not need to justify what we do together, only what we do separately. The 3rd Ecumenical Kirchentag is intended to be courageous and it intends to be encouraging.
Drafted by the presidial delegations of the DEKT and ZdK, adopted by the ZdK Main Committee on 25.03.18 and the DEKT Presidium on 14.04.18.