Ecumenical News International

Protestant Church Wants to Step Up Dialogue with Other Religions

April 27, 2012

Berlin (epd). With an eye to the Reformation quincentenary of 2017 the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) wants to intensify practical dialogue with other religions. On the invitation of the EKD and the Berlin Protestant Academy, a delegation of Muslims, Druse and Christians from the Middle East recently undertook an exposure visit to the Reformation sites. Accompanied by Martin Schindehütte, bishop for external relations and ministries abroad, the group from Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey visited Nuremberg, Dresden, Halle, the sites of Martin Luther's activity in Wittenberg and, finally, Berlin.

"It was an experiment and each of us came out of it a changed person," remarked Bishop Schindehütte on Thursday in Berlin. The intensity of being together in connection with visiting the historical sites had led to a "much more thorough, lasting and diverse dialogue" than was possible at conferences. "We must continue with this kind of format," he added.

The visitors were impressed by the impact of the Reformation on society, politics, culture and education in Germany. Saudi psychologist and women's rights activist Laila Abdallah al-Kadhem commented, for example, that the fact that religion did not need to divide and polarize a society was an experience she would take home with her from Germany. Lebanese Pastor Naijla Kassab was impressed by the "spirit of the Reformation", that people of the most diverse types and views could live together in peace and harmony.

Human geographer Fathy M.A. Abouayana from Egypt stressed the global impact of the Reformation. Going beyond the religious aspects, the Reformation had drastically changed the political and cultural atlas. He also admired the liberal nature of Protestantism and so, for Islam, he wished for an "Egyptian Martin Luther".



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