International Ecumenical Seminar 2023

In recent years, the International Ecumenical Summer Seminar could either not take place at all due to the pandemic or had to be held as an online event – with all the advantages and disadvantages that this form entails.

How nice that we were able to meet in person again this year! The warm hospitality at the Séminaire Protestant, the charm of the city of Strasbourg, the wonderful food and the good weather all contributed to the seminar being an experience, and not just in terms of content. 

Thematically, this year's conference from 5 to 12 July revolved around the issue of "Communion of Churches" – also against the background of the 50th anniversary of the "Leuenberg Agreement", a model for promoting and establishing church communion that was largely developed at the Institute. At the same time, there is sometimes talk of an "ecumenical ice age" between the churches. Here it was good to consider the topic and understanding of "communion" both on a theological level and in dialogue with representatives from very different backgrounds. The practical aspects were not neglected either.

In terms of content, the seminar began with an overview by Dr Gina Zurlo of the current denominational "map" of churches worldwide. The second lecture by Prof. Peter Gemeinhardt recalled the early church foundations of the understanding of communion. We were then able to welcome Dr Casely Essamuah from the Global Christian Forum, which is known to have a different understanding of communio and lives it in practice.

The second morning was dedicated to the Roman Catholic Church, for which Prof Michael Quisinsky and Prof Wolfgang Thönissen reported, and in the afternoon Dr Christopher Wells presented the Anglican Communion.

The next day, we hosted Prof Dr Julija Vidović for the Orthodox churches and Prof Lisa Stephenson for the Pentecostal churches.

The penultimate working day was then all about the Leuenberg Agreement and the Porvoo Agreement: with Prof Marc Lienhard and Prof André Birmelé, we not only had two "veterans" of the Institute and the Strasbourg theological faculty as guests, but both were involved in the Leuenberg Process and its development in the CPCE almost from the beginning. The same applies to Bishop Dr Matti Repo with regard to the Porvoo Communion, before Dr Kuzipa Nalwamba answered our questions on communion and opinion-forming in the WCC on the final day.

Selbstverständlich gab es auch ein reichhaltiges spirituelles Leben mit täglichen Mittagsandachten in der Église St. Thomas, der Pfarrkirche Martins Bucers und seit 1681 der lutherischen Zentralkirche des Elsass, und einem Abendmahlsgottesdienst zum Abschluß in der vielleicht schönsten Kirche Straßburgs, in St. Pierre le Jeune, in dem uns Prof. Dr. Dirk Lange die Predigt hielt. Sicherlich war auch die Exkursion nach Colmar zum Isenheimer Altar und zum Odilienberg, dem „Heiligen Berg“ des Elsass mit Weinprobe und traditionellem Essen ein besonderer Höhepunkt.


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