Evangelicals in Germany told: 'Churches are dependant on one another'

The Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) General Secretary and Bishop Designate of the Austrian Lutheran Church, Michael Bünker, this week greeted the Synod of the Evangelical Churches in Germany.

Bünker addressed the Synod saying that Church autonomy must not mean "isolationist self-satisfaction", and he urged members to realise that listening to their ecumenical partners is basic for the churches.

In his greetings to the Synod in Dresden, Bünker emphasised the importance of church collaboration.

"By virtue of its origin the church is dependent on fellowship, and therefore ecumenical commitment is also essential to the Protestant church," said Bünker.

One example of successful collaboration, he pointed out, is the first European Protestant hymn book "Colours of Grace", which was published during the last year by the CPCE.

Within that book the plurality of Europe and the "broad colourful rainbow of Protestant spirituality" is documented. He said that among other things, elements of Catholic literature are also deliberately included.

He explained that the book emphasises "that church fellowship in the Protestant sense always also has a spiritual root".

Bünker also thanked the EKD and its regional churches for their "generous financial support" in producing the book.

Bünker continued to say that church fellowship is a "basic question of life" particularly for minority churches.

For example in Austria the Protestant churches are in a clear minority. Here the model of unity in reconciled diversity is "at the same time both a daily experience and an abiding challenge".

It gives the Protestant churches their profile, he said.

He added that with their support of the CPCE the big churches like the EKD would therefore particularly help the churches which proclaim the gospel of the freedom of faith in difficult circumstances.

Bünker concluded, "The churches not only live in fellowship but depend on it."