Ecumenical News International

Three dozen municipalities bear the title "European City of the Reformation"

July 22, 2015

Vienna/Frankfurt (epd). 36 municipalities in eight countries can now call themselves a "European City of the Reformation". The Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) has announced the names of the latest cities to join the list: Bretten, Heidelberg, Konstanz, Schmalkalden and Wertheim (all in Germany); Graz and Steyr (Austria) and Debrecen (Hungary). Further applications are in preparation.

Networking is particularly important in view of the large number of cities participating, says Bishop Michael Bünker, CPCE general secretary. The main aim is to create and cultivate contacts with, and between, cities and institutions, he adds.
"Our role is to support the cities as best we can in marketing their various programmes in connection with the Reformation anniversary and to publicize them as broadly as possible." The German cities participating so far are: Bretten, Coburg, Crailsheim, Eisenach, Emden, Heidelberg, Konstanz, Regensburg, Schmalkalden, Schwäbisch Hall, Speyer, Torgau, Tübingen, Wertheim, Wittenberg, Worms und Wuppertal.

Partnerships between churches and municipalities

The initiative European City of the Reformation is based on partnerships between churches and municipalities. The cooperation covers the areas of art, culture and tourism, as well as history and spirituality. The project is also connected to the European Roadmap for the Reformation Anniversary , through which the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) intends to link up 67 towns and cities across Europe as of November 2016.

At the German federal level, the Reformation anniversary will open with a festive event on 31 October 2016 in Wittenberg. Besides the European Roadmap, the plans for the quincentenary year include a World Reformation Exhibition and a huge festive service to conclude the 36th German Protestant Kirchentag in May 2017. In that year Protestant Christians will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's advertising his Ninety-five Theses against the sale of indulgences. The publication of these Theses is regarded as having sparked the Reformation movement.

The Community of Protestant Churches in Europa comprises 94 Protestant churches, including Lutheran, Reformed, United, Methodist and pre-Reformation churches. They grant one another pulpit and table fellowship on the basis of the Leuenberg Agreement of 1973. The CPCE represents about 50 million Christians.

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