A joyful festival for everyone
2500 events within five days. 100,000 fulltime visitors. 30,000 active participants. This is the German Protestant Kirchentag. But Kirchentag means more than a set of statistics.
Joyful Festival for Everyone
It is a platform for intensive discussion, a forum for critical debate about current questions. It is a huge event which takes place every two years in early summer and is a joyful festival for everyone.
Participants come from everywhere: From all over Germany and indeed from all over the world. Most of the visitors are younger than 30 years. Many of them go to school or are university students. About half of them are visiting the event for the first time. For the remaining half it's their second, third or fourth visit.
Experiences for all Senses
Every two years, Kirchentag provides opportunities for thousands of people to dip into the attitude to life of a new host city for the festival. Unknown songwriters and amateur cabaret artists contribute to it alongside high-profile personalities from the worlds of politics, science, art, business and Church.
Within the same day, Kirchentag visitors can first go to a Techno-mass, attend a meditation session afterwards, then listen to a classical concert, followed by a rock-concert, and sit through a panel discussion between leading politicians. In between, there's time to let mind and soul unwind in the sunshine of the green open air locations.
A Lay Movement Growing from the Grassroots
The Kirchentag is a Lay movement. It grows from the grass roots and is not prescribed from above. Thousands of visitors are also active co-workers. In this way, each Kirchentag becomes a festival for all. Nationality and religious allegiance are irrelevant. Even though the huge event bears the official name "Protestant".
As old as Germany
The German Protestant Kirchentag is the same age as the German Federal Republic. The Kirchentag was founded in 1949 by Reinold von Thadden-Trieglaff together with some of his friends in Hannover – as a movement of Protestant lay people. For them, the independence from official state Church was just as important as their Christian faith, which combines spirituality with a responsibility towards society and the world.
Even in a divided Germany, church work remained united until 1961. After the Berlin Wall was built, the movement went separate ways in separate countries. Alongside the Protestant Kirchentag in West Germany, its counterpart in the GDR stayed active as well. Two years after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the Kirchentag movements in East and West united once again.
New Expressions of Faith
Many initiatives and proposals have come out of the German Protestant Kirchentag. In 1961, it started the dialogue between Jews and Christians in Germany. In the 1970s, new forms of worship e. g. Liturgical Nights, Celebratory Communion Services and Evening Prayers, together with modern church hymns and songs, led visitors to discover new expressions of faith. And the discussions about peace and enviromentalism which shaped Germany in the 1980s also had their beginnings largely at the Kirchentag.