On Sunday, Bishop Nick took part in a debate with Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the UN, at the German Protestant Kirchentag - a huge five-day congress held every two years, this year in Stuttgart.
A significant national event, the Kirchentag is attended by politicians (including Chancellor Angela Merkel), as well as high-profile personalities from the worlds of science, art, business and the Church.
There are over 100,000 visitors (the majority under 30), and a programme of 2500 events, which include political debate, worship, art, music and theology – all in a festival atmosphere. And it attracts considerable media attention, with 1300 journalists present.
Bishop Nick spoke at several events and services (often in German), but the highlight was the panel discussion between him, Kofi Annan and the German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on the question, “Who takes responsibility in crises and conflicts?” Photo: Kaj Aalto
While warning that we shouldn’t think we’ve achieved something simply by having a conference and talking about it, Bishop Nick said that churches are in a unique position in relation to the pursuit of peace – they’re able to use their connections with other churches worldwide in order to bring people together in a way that politicians can’t.
The panel received a standing ovation from the 9000-strong audience. (And although he didn’t let on, Bishop Nick was unwell, and afterwards was diagnosed with pneumonia).
This year a group from the diocese went and it’s hoped that others will join them for the next Kirchentag in 2017 in Berlin, which will particularly focus on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. To express an interest please contact the Archdeacon of Pontefract, the archdeacon.pontefract [at] westyorkshiredales.anglican.org (Venerable Peter Townley). (Because of the excellent translation facilities, you don't need to speak German).