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Kirchentag: Church festival with church leaders, Obama, and many youth

23 May 2017

Open debates, prayers in many languages and music of all styles: these are the trademark ingredients of the biannual festival of the Kirchentag. Founded in 1949 by Protestant lay people to strengthen democratic culture after the Nazi dictatorship and the Second World War, it has gained European and global reach over the decades.

More than 100'000 participants from Germany and beyond are expected at this year's Kirchentag, which opens in the German capital Berlin on Wednesday, 24 May and ends with a televised mega-service in the Reformation city Wittenberg on Sunday, 28 May. Among the event's 5000 international guests are former U.S. President Barack Obama, and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 brings special attention to Christianity's potential as a force for social change and attracts visitors to Martin Luther's home country Germany. Therefore the Reformation anniversary will also leave its imprint on the Kirchentag of 2017.

Among the 2500 events on the Kirchentag programme, many involve representatives of the World Council of Churches (WCC) member churches from several continents, as well as WCC leadership, including the moderator of the WCC Central Committee, Dr Agnes Abuom; WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit; the WCC president for Africa, Rev. Dr Mary-Anne Plaatjies van Huffel; and various members of the WCC Central Committee.

The WCC will also be present with a booth in the exhibition space “Market of Opportunities”, in collaboration with the ecumenical youth network Meet – More Ecumenical Empowerment Together.

At the booth, visitors will have the opportunity to discuss a variety of topics with WCC representatives (see schedule below; questions submitted via social media will be put to these special guests during mini-interviews live-streamed on the WCC YouTube channel). They will also be invited to take part in WCC campaigns such as #ThursdaysinBlack and "HIV testing: leading by example", and to join a photo contest with the motto "Oikoumene GO! Catch the ecumenical spirit".

The Kirchentag festival takes place every two years in a different German city, gathering participants of all age groups – most visitors are younger than 30 years – as well as personalities from political, economic and national life. The Kirchentag serves as a major forum for debates on such matters as integration of refugees, climate change, or financial and economic governance. Alongside such discussions, it offers opportunities for worship, music and culture.

Interviews with the WCC general secretary and other WCC representatives may be requested via the WCC director of communication Marianne Ejdersten: mej@wcc-coe.org, +41 79 507 63 63.

Overview of WCC-related events in the Kirchentag programme (pdf)

Schedule of special guests at booth / livestreamed interviews (pdf)

Oikoumene Go! photo contest flyer (pdf)