Stefan Cosoroaba from the ZETI in Sibiu (Romania), gave on 16 December 2021 a online lecture on the topic: „One Church and the Plurality of Languages and Ethnicities“
His questions: Where do the dividing lines run? Where do areas of tension open up? One church with several languages and cultures or different churches for each ethnic group, language and culture? From the perspective of this question, is there a different approach in Western Europe and Eastern Europe?
The connection between religion, language and identity was examined from different perspectives in this lecture. Examples mainly from Romania with its not only denominational but also linguistical diverse congregations illustrated the importance of both confession and language in their significance for the feeling of belonging. From a historical perspective, however, it can be seen that it was not until the 19th century, in the course of an increasing national consciousness, that language appeared as a real distinguishing feature alongside denomination and superimposed its meaning. read more …
Peter Morée, church historian from Prague, gave a lecture on the challenging topic „Protestant Churches under the Influence of Nationalism“ at the Digital Academy on December 2, 2021. In two hours, more than 20 participants experienced theoretical impulses that gained concrete form through examples from art and architecture. In small groups, the participants from numerous European countries had several opportunities for direct exchange. The moderator of the evening was Oliver Engelhardt (CPCE).
Peter Morée summarized his remarks with the words: „The faith we have in common defines us, not ethnic or national differences. This is the ecumenical answer of the churches to the temptation of nationalism. And yes, at the same time we need to relate to our particular contexts and histories. The question is: where is the line between identifying with particular national traditions and being faithful to the universality of the embracing love of Christ?“
In the final discussion it became clear that with this question Peter Morée had hit the core of many discussions in the round tables. Read more …
The theme of the 2nd lecture on 18 November was identity as a Christian community, which is not always constructed in the same way. It contains not only confessional, but also regional, social and historical elements. A look at ecumenism, in the Protestant-Orthodox comparison, shows us the different approaches to national and global identity, which are sometimes congruent, sometimes divergent. The speakers were Prof. Dr Stefan Tobler (ZETO, Sibiu) and Katerina Pekridou (CEC Brussels).
Feeling at home in the church means that I have my place there. This is how Gerhard Servatius-Depner (ZETO) described the discussion:My place, my home is my identity. This insight – if I am right – sheds light on the discussion about Nationalism and Cosmopolitism, both very abstract notions, very political notions. Does the strengthening of local cultural traditions and mother tongue within the church lead to nationalism or – at least – to a kind of local patriotism, of narrow perspective of faith with the tendance to be closed and egoistic? Or is it rather an instrument of the mission of the church to invite persons to feel at home? But in the same time: what about the others, the newcomers, the migrants? Can they feel at home, too – together with us? There are no easy answers.” read more…
„What I am dreaming of are groups like this, that develop an understanding of the different ethical traditions in Europe“ said Lukas David Meyer about the 1st lecture of the Digital Academy of Young Theology, with which the virtual conference on Protestantism between Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism was launched on 4 November. Meyer teaches at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich (LMU). 32 participants from 9 European countries as well as Chile discussed on the screens about Church and Identity with the theological and sociological Aspects.
The first speaker of the evening was Dr. Mario Fischer, General Secretary of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE). He describes churches as relational buildings and they are part of the society. Since times of the reformation Protestant churches are national rooted. But the models of society are divers and complex and so are the churches. The CPCE therefore can be seen as an example for unity in reconciled diversity. Volkmar Ortmann from the Protestant Federation of Hesse was the moderator. He has a lectureship at the Justus-Liebig-University in Gießen.
The second speaker, Lukas Meyer, outlines ethical statements of the CPCE, the EKD and the Reformed Church in Hungary. The focus is on statements in the context of the European constitutional crisis, financial crisis and migration crisis. It becomes clear that in the statements of the EKD and the positions of the Reformed Church in Hungary the national church contexts and interests remain clearly recognizable. Finally, he calls for a more committed Protestant social ethics. He states: Local social ethical engagement has the potential to initiate the needed change in the ethical debates in European Protestantism.
Many Protestant churches are currently experiencing changes that deeply affect their self-understanding, social status and internal structure. Public discourses in Europe are shaped more and more by nationalist positions. This has an impact not only political debates of the respective societies; it also challenges the Protestant churches as agents in these societies. On the one hand, Protestant churches are rooted within their own historically and culturally moulded narratives. On the other hand, as Protestants they are part of a strong tradition (European Protestantism) and of worldwide Christianity. Which challenges arise for Protestant churches facing strengthening nationalisms? What signifi cance do they attribute to their own national anchorage concerning their Protestant identity?