Archive for the ‘Germany’ category

Malawian-German Baptist partnership for growth and planting

June 22, 2011

Regina Claas

During the next five years, German Baptist Churches hope to be inspired by the example of the Baptist Union of Malawi. A partnership agreement was signed during the recent  Annual conference in Kassel. The German General-Secretary Regina Claas (from Elstal, Berlin) assured delegates that there were many things that the Baptists of Germany could learn from their Malawian sisters and brothers. One matter would be on how best to plant a church. Malawians are planting new churches on nearly a daily basis. The Baptist Union of Malawi has
200.000 members in 1.500 congregations.

The church’s General-Secretary, Vincent Chirwa (Blantyre), called on German Baptists to testify of Christ in everyday life and not feel hampered by the general opinion that one should not speak publically about matters of personal faith.

Claas expressed her longing for a new mission awakening. All members are called on to utilise their talents and expertise ‘in order to win others for Christ’. She based her concern on the fact that membership in Germany’s largest non-state church has been shrinking slowly for years. What is to be done? According to the Federation’s President, Hartmut Riemenschneider, congregations need to open their hearts to new people. The claim that they were already doing so is in many instances only a hollow phrase, for congregations are often not concerned about the desires of their visitors.

(Adapted from the EBF news source at http://www.ebf.org, original text by Klaus Roesler)

Urban Church Planting in Europe

May 17, 2011

City to City – Europe‘ describes itself as a growing network of church plants and pastors throughout Europe with an annual meeting. The next meeting of the network takes place in Berlin between the 25-27th October, 2011 at the ‘Gospel and the City’ Conference.

Network members are working in major European cities, represent various denominations and minister in different urban contexts. The network  values an approach to effective urban ministry that applies the gospel to every aspect of life and church ministry and believes that church planting needs to be thoroughly contextualised. It appreciates secular culture while maintaining the historic confessions of the Christian faith. The network draws inspiration from the practical example of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and the teaching of Timothy Keller, founding pastor of this church.

The 2011 Conference is being opened up more widely and will include important input from European speakers including Dr. Stefan Paas of the Netherlands who will offer a comparative evluation of the main differences between European and American church planting in the urban context. For further details of the event, or to follow links to the City to City site, check out our ‘Events’ pages.

The old rugged cross: ban or cherish?

September 13, 2010

We’re just working on the October edition of Vista, our quarterly research bulletin. The theme is secularisation and we’ve been researching how the personal or institutional display of a crucifix is increasingly a focus for social policy legislators. It may be too early to predict patterns, but the forthcoming ruling from the European Court of Human Rights may prove important to this whole debate (read more about that below). Our attention to the public displaying of crucifixes follows last quarter’s look at the wearing of Burqas in public. A quick round-up of recent decisions regarding the wearing or displaying of crosses in public  includes:

  • In October 2006 a British Airways check-in worker was banned by her employers from wearing a small crucifix around her neck. Of Egyptian ethnicity, Nadia Eweida, was told by BA that the wearing of all publically visible jewellery was forbidden by the company.
  • In January 2007 Robert Napier School in Gillingham, Kent, ordered a 13 year-old Roman Catholic schoolgirl, Samantha Devine to remove her crucifix at school because it posed a health and safety risk. The school indicated it would be happy with a cross worn in Samantha’s blazer lapel.
  • In December 2008 a Spanish court ruled that it was inappropriate for a state school to display crucifixes in its classrooms. Earlier that year, the Spanish Evangelical Alliance had supported the omission of crucifixes from public ceremonies and a law guaranteeing the religious neutrality of public officials.
  • In November 2009 the European Court of Human Rights, sitting in Strasbourg, ruled that an Italian school’s refusal to remove the crucifix following the request of Finnish-born Italian Soile Lautsi that it be removed from her children’’ classrooms was a ‘violation of parents’ rights’ to educate children in accord with their convictions. The ruling was expected to have repercussions across all 47 Council of Europe member states. Italy appealed the judgement in June 2010 and awaits a final ruling.
  • In April 2010 a British nurse, Shirley Chaplin, lost her appeal to wear a crucifix at work. The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust argued that the cross and necklace she had worn for over 40 years was a health and safety risk. The Trust suggested she wear a lapel pin or cross earrings.
  • In April 2010, a German First Minister, Aygül Őzkan who is of Turkish heritage, , called for a ban on crucifixes in state schools in Lower-Saxony and Germany. She withdrew her suggestions following criticism from members of the ruling CDU to which she belongs.
  • In June 2010 the Spanish Government introduced a draft Law of Freedom of Religion and Conscience which regulates the use of the crucifix, including its removal from public places such as schools, hospitals and council buildings. The Spanish EA interpreted the use of crucifixes in such places as evidence of a ‘confessional state’, something to which they remain opposed.
  • In June 2010 an Amsterdam appeal court ruled that the city’s public transport authority was within its rights to ban an Egyptian-born tram conductor from wearing a crucifix. The judge ruled that the transport authority was correct in imposing a ban on the basis that the crucifix was attached to a necklace, not the fact that it was worn visibly.
  • During August, 2010, in Roman Catholic majority Poland, 80% of respondents in an online poll of 11,000 urged the removal of a cross from the square in front of the Presidential palace commemorating the death of the former President in an air crash.
  • The BBC reported in August 2010 that in Greece, the human-rights NGO, Helsinki Monitor, has urged Greek Courts to remove icons from its chambers and drop the practice of requiring witnesses to swear oaths on the Bible.

We’ll also summarise the reasons for and against displaying crosses in public. If you’d like to receive a copy of Vista by email please contact us at rb@novaresearch.eu or jmemory@redcliffe.org

How important is religion to you?

September 9, 2010

At the end of August, Gallup released news of a 2009 survey examining the importance of religion for the population of 114 countries, based on telephone and face-to-face interviews. The global average for those who said that religion was important in their daily lives was 84% but this number dipped as low as Estonia (16%) and as high as Italy (72%) in Europe. Other European countries in the survey polled as follows: United Kingdom (27%) and 109th in the list of 114 countries. Denmark and Sweden were lower than the UK whilst France (30%), Germany (40%) and Spain (49%) were higher.

Further statistical  information and the Gallup press release are available by clicking here.

Amish Mission to Europe

August 16, 2010

British viewers who have been following ITV’s series following the group of Amish young people who came to the UK for four weeks to experience ‘rumspringa’ may be interested to learn a little bit more about the missionary activities of one of the Amish groups that has had a commitment to mission from their communities in the USA to several European countries.

Amish mission in Ukraine

One of the earliest mission presences was that of Amish Mennonite Aid, active in West Berlin during the late 1950s and into the early 1960s where it was responsible for several centres offering support and aid to refugee East Germans. After the Berlin wall was erected and the flow of refugees stopped, the mission switch its focus to local physical and spiritual needs. Between 1956v and 1977, 49 Amish missionaries worked in the Berlin mission. More about the story of the Berlin mission can be read online.

In the 1950s the Missions Interest Committee emerged out of the Old Order Amish and as a result of reservations in those communities, the Beachy Amish churches took up the responsibility for Amish mission through the IMC. The IMC’s early work focussed on the USA but in the early 1980s it developed a mission programme in Belgium, later expanding into Ireland. Amish missions in Ireland currently focus around a congregation in Dunmore East. The early establishment of this work from the Alsace region of France is described in James Yoder’s European Project.

In addition there have been a number of other Amish mission activities in the Ukraine (two churches) and Romania (one church). These have been either as a result of individual efforts or in partnership with other organisations. Each of these churches is involved in its own mission care for local people, including providing a seed programme for Ukrainian farmers.

In other parts of Europe, the Beachy Amish now co-operate with anabaptist mission organisations such as Christian Aid Ministries.

You can read more about the Beachy Amish on their website.


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