Bratwurst, BMWs, Bishops and Brass Bands

A group from Bristol, including Bishop Mike, attended and took part in the 2nd Ecumenical Kirchentag in Munich in mid-May.

All three ‘B’s featured heavily in a recent diocesan trip to the annual Kirchentag gathering in Munich. Over 30 people from Bristol Diocese braved the gathering ash clouds to fly to Munich for this extraordinary event. (Although four brave souls preferred to drive!) We were invited to stay with German families throughout our stay.

The Kirchentag is a national celebration organised in a different German City by the German Lutheran Church. This year was slightly different with an ecumenical theme and organised in conjunction with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. It’s a kind of combination of Spring Harvest, the Notting Hill Carnival (but with a German twist) and a high powered theological seminar. Over a 100,000 visitors from around Germany, joined with another 100,000 from the city of Munich and a further 3000 from across the globe for a celebration and exploration of life and worship.

Munich comes to a standstill,

Marienplatz-candle-nightOn the first night the whole of the city centre right out to the inner ring road was closed to traffic as people thronged the streets sampling local fair, enjoying art, drama, dance and music all in the name of Christ. Each main square in the city had a massive stage and a full programme for 5 days of lectures, services, classical concerts, traditional Bavarian dancing and more. The youth work took over the entire Olympic Park in Munich, while the seminars and teaching were based at the international trade fair, or scattered in churches across the city. What a privilege to sit at the feet of men like Professor Hans Kung.Dr-Hans-Kung

Most moving on that first night was at 10 pm when the whole crowd fell silent, literally hundreds of thousands of candles were lit simultaneously forming a river of light throughout the city, and together we prayed, where we sat or stood.

Mike’s moment in the spotlight …

As well as providing an opportunity for Bishop Mike to meet with colleagues in the Bavarian Landeskirche with whom the Diocese has a link under the Meissen Agreement, he was also invited to preach at a service organised by Judy Bailey, a singer-songwriter from Barbados who lives in Germany.

The service, entitled “Old wine in new wineskins”, included Caribbean musical settings for Anglican liturgy. Judy had written these settings which have since been adopted for use in the West Indies. Over 500 people attended and got into the swing of the service. Bishop Mike preached from Revelation about breaking down our divisions between denominations and showing the world that we are part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

It was only at the end of his stay, however, that Bishop Mike realised that the fleet of chauffeur driven BMWs parked outside his hotel had been provided by BMW for the use of specially invited Bishops during the event and he hadn’t needed to use the U-bahn at all!

Alternative worship Bristol style …

Waiting-for-worshipAndy Schuman from Christ the Servant, Stockwood led a ‘Silent Communion’ in a church in the suburbs. The following evening Foundation (based at Cotham parish church) led a creative and interactive service featuring drama, music, tapestry and origami. The latter was so well received that they were invited to come back to Germany and lead seminars for young people and their leaders on how to develop contemporary ways of worshipping. Watch this space.

Music in Munich – Margaret Hawkins reflects on her experience of the music at the Kirchentag.


“This year I experienced, formal church music in the Saint Joseph’s Schwabing, Choral singing, gospel singing, pop music and brass bands, and the famous Thomanerchor boys’ choir. The city was beautiful, the transport worked and my hosts Marianne and Joseph could not have been more hospitable. (Editor’s Note: the organisers arranged hospitality in over 10,000 German homes.) I recommend a visit to any Kirchentag event –whatever age you are you will surely gain from the experience.”

2 thoughts on “Bratwurst, BMWs, Bishops and Brass Bands

  1. it sounds as if you had a great time and an inspiring one – wish i’d been there

  2. Pingback: Kirchentag Reportage « Foundation