The Diocese of Bristol's links with the Lutheran Church in Bavaria gives an opportunity for Christians to join in one of the world great Christian gatherings, the German Kirchentag.
Revd David Moss, Vicar of St Michael and All Angels, Windmill Hill, Bristol reports on his visit to Hamburg this year.
Founded in 1949 in the wake of the war, the Kirchentag (meaning "Church Day") is a Christian conference of immense proportions. For five days every two years in different German cities, the festival attracts between 100,000 and 200,000 visitors from across Europe.
This year it was Hamburgs turn to host the festival, and the people of Hamburg opened their doors with generosity. My hosts lived in an idyllic farmhouse about 40 minutes train ride from Hamburg city centre. I had landed on my feet: a Chinese Takeaway awaited me on my first night, eggs from the chickens at breakfast time.
n our first day, Henning von Aschen, the Lutheran Minister who has been in Bristol on exchange for the last three years, gave us all an English Program and a distinctive blue Kirchentag scarf. Soon the streets of Hamburg became a sea of blue, as 1000s of people assembled to hear addresses from global leaders, to see dozens of acts of worship from Caribbean beat to Iona contemplative, cultural events, workshops, musical performances and to buy at the Christian marketplace. Our group was mixed in age and tradition but there was something for everyone, even in English!
Highlights for me: a discussion between Angela Merkel and Helen Clark the former New Zealand Prime Minister on balancing international development; Judy Bailey in concert with Bishop Nick Baines (I even bought the CD) and of course the final Sunday Eucharist, at the Stadpark, the only place that could accommodate 130,000 people.
AND dont forget the sight seeing. Yes! Your Kirchentag pass gives access to the Citys key tourist attractions. Despite the immensity of the event there was still time to visit the art gallery, go to a replica of Noahs Ark, buy a German lager, and to sit in the square with a takeaway German Frankfurter laced in Curry Sauce.
The next Kirchentag is in Stuttgart, 3-7 June 2015. If you are interested in attending, please contact Ecumenical and Global Partnership Officer, Revd Chris Dobson firstname.lastname@example.org