Berlin, German capital, and its “slightly” smaller neighbor Wittenberg aren’t mentioned in one breath very often. And yet, the latter looks back on a history no less significant than Berlin’s: In 1517 the professor Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the town’s door, thus starting the reformation in central Europe. The town is thus officially referred to as “Lutherstadt”. For the 500th anniversary of this incident it is no wonder that the biennial German Evangelical Church Assembly is to take place at Wittenberg and Berlin at the same time this year. After many months of lengthy preparations the “Kirchentag” starts next week. From May 24 through 28, 2017, some 140,000 guests are expected to make their way to the city. No matter whether you’re in town for the event or just happen to be here at the same time, the assembly will not leave you entirely unaffected. So here is all you need to know about Kirchentag 2017:
Five days, countless highlights
The German Evangelical Church Assembly takes place every two years in a different city. It is an institutionally independent movement of people connected in their Christian belief and their will, to shape the future of church together. The varied program includes numerous workshops, talks, panel discussions, and prayers, as well as concerts, theatre performances, markets, and fairs – not to mention the opening services and the huge closing ceremony in Wittenberg. More than 2,000 single events are set to happen during the five days. Lots of them reach beyond the boundaries of belief and religion: political debates, music, culture, food, and creative workshops appear on the agenda and ensure that Kirchentag 2017 is an event that no one will easily forget. As always, there’s a special motto for the event. This year: “You see me!”.
Another core topic will be that of migration and displacement. The church communities throughout Germany contributed a great deal to welcoming and integrating refugees, especially since 2015. The Christian values of mercy and kind-heartedness are as important as ever, such is the message of this year’s assembly. Numerous prominent speakers will be present in the many interesting events. Grand highlight: A panel discussion between German chancellor Angela Merkel and former US president Barack Obama in front of Brandenburg Gate on May 25.
Two cities, one event
For Berlin it is already the sixth time to host the church assembly, most recently in 2003 when the Ecumenical Church Convention together with the Catholic church took place here. Wittenberg is located some 50 km south-west of the capital, with events split equally on both cities. With more than 100,000 permanent guests as well as 45,000 day visitors this special situation presents both towns with an enormous organisational challenge. Visitors will find chartered trains that take them in under 50 minutes from one city to the other. In Berlin, extra subways, metros, and trams will make sure that everyone can travel comfortably from one venue to another at all times. A sophisticated security concept is supposed to make sure everyone will be safe during the event, but except for bag searches and police presence you will hardly be confronted with that. In the end, peace for all is the message of the day.
You can find the full program of the 36th Evangelical Church Assembly on the official website, as well as permanent and daily tickets. The tickets are also valid for public transportation. Our team from Industriepalast Hostel are happy to host you during your stay here and wish you some unforgettable five days in Berlin!
(Hauptbild – Quelle: “DEKT/Alasdair Jardine”)
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.