DR IRMGARD SCHWAETZER (right), who chairs the Synod of
the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD, Evangelical Church in
Germany), brought a greeting on behalf of the ecumenical guests, as
well as "cordial greetings from the Council of the EKD, the Plenary
Church Conference, and the Presidium of the Synod.
"These are three bodies that act partly together, partly aside
to another, but always to the best of the Church in Germany," she
She said that, ten years ago, the "good relations which bind us
in the Meissen Commission" were de-scribed as being "inseparable
such that no 16 teams of horses can rip them asunder".
Those words were "emblematic of our good co-operation and for
the very spirit in which our exchanges occur"; but, she said,
"unfortunately, this is not quite the image we have of the
Evangelical Church in Germany."
Every ten years the Church conducted a survey of its membership.
"Some results are leaving us quite optimistic," she said, but
others "are downright alarming.
"We seem to lose touch with young people; and ever more people
view the Church with ambivalence. The number of those openly
rejecting the Church is rising as [is], at the same time, the
number of those to whom the Church is important and who devote
"The next Synod of the EKD will consider how Lutherans, members
of the United Churches, and Reformed Protestants can co-operate
even closer, both theologically and organisationally."
That Synod, when it meets in November, will also commemorate the
fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago.