Not only does the assembly stand out in terms of its size and duration, but also in terms of its richness in content.
”This is not just a conference, it is an extraordinary event where Christians from all over the world get together around a common message and become part of the daily life in the city,” explains the Lord Mayor of Karlsruhe, Dr Frank Mentrup.
Since the participants started to arrive, two weeks ago, his city has not only welcomed them as guests but also as ”citizens” of Karlsruhe.
”Such a large, long-lasting and diverse event happens perhaps every ten or 15 years here. It is of course a fantastic opportunity for our city and it has been an extraordinary experience to greet and meet all these people,” the mayor continues.
He is particularly pleased with the well-attended reception in the Town Hall, 3 September, when the Golden Book of Karlsruhe was signed by the WCC central committee moderator Dr Agnes Abuom, vice moderators Bishop Mary Anne Swenson and Metropolitan Nifon of Târgoviște, and WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca.
Also, the 45-minute worship service on 4 September in Friedenskirche, which was broadcast live nationwide by ZDF and watched by one million viewers throughout Germany, has put Karlsruhe on the map. Friedenskirche is one of the so-called “emergency churches” which, thanks to an initiative by the WCC, was constructed after the end of World War II, with the help of international donations.
”To welcome the organization that made the construction of Friedenskirche possible, is indeed an honour,” the mayor says.
He notes that the logistical challenges posed by a complex event like this are overwhelming, and that close collaboration with all involved parties towards one common goal is a key factor for success. Mentrup praises the WCC for its professional, hardworking staff, and for ”taking the event to a higher level of quality.
”It has been a very positive experience to work with so many professional people from the WCC, and we have learned a lot from it,” says the mayor.
As a politician, he also underscores how important it is for politicians and church leaders to talk to each other and work together on today’s most urgent issues, such as climate change, social challenges, and peace building.
”All in all, the WCC assembly has had significant short- and long-term impacts on the city of Karlsruhe, both business-wise and from a social perspective,” the mayor concludes.