Summer Seminar 2017: Reformation Identity in Ecumenical Perspective

The year 2017 is an invitation to celebrate. At all levels of church life and in countless countries the anniversary of the 16th century Reformation will be commemorated. But that always poses the question of what exactly is to be celebrated in a situation unlike any previous Reformation centenary.

The ecumenical dialogues have profoundly altered the relationships between the churches. Churches are growing faster in the global South now, shifting the weight of Christianity away from the north. New Christian movements and churches are popping up all over the place. In a fast globalizing world, most socieities are evolving toward being multireligious. Despite the secularism that dominates so many nations, the question of religion is taking on a surprising new urgency, especially with regard to the threat of religious violence. These new challenges are best taken up out of a strong sense of identity and groundedness.

For this reason, the question of “What is Reformation identity?” will be the theme of the next Summer Seminar, which will be hosted by the Institute for Ecumenical Research, affiliated with the Lutheran World Federation, in Strasbourg, France, from July 3 to 10, 2017.

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This exploration of Reformation identity will not take place in isolation from other churches but rather expressly in dialogue with them, in the exchange of self-perception and recognition of the other, in mutual friendship as well as in critique. How do others perceive the strengths and weaknesses of the Reformation churches? What would they like the Reformation churches to learn from their own tradition?

While the foundational theological convictions of the Reformation churches will be the point of departure, questions of identity also involve matters of spirituality, culture, and customs. That which most often concerns theologians can be of virtually no consequence to the identity of church members. For example, Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians mutually identify more by shared experiences, practices, and behaviors than by shared teaching. For many contemporary Christians, their confessional location plays hardly any role in their faith, and they know themselves merely as Christians. Thus identity is a multivalent reality giving rise to a variety of identity markers.

The Summer Seminar will pose all these questions and more. Only those churches with an alert and reflective relationship to their own identity can be open to dialogue with others and in this situation find new ways to accomplish the task of proclaiming the gospel.

In addition to the theological discussions, the Seminar fosters opportunity for conversation among the participants, reports of their own ecumenical or confessional experiences, the posing of questions and offering of responses. Since participants come from many different churches and countries, this exchange is always especially exciting and enlightening, both in the plenary sessions and in small group work. The conversation continues over delicious French food at the Stift’s dining hall or a glass of wine in one of the charming restaurants in the old city of Strasbourg.

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Languages

English and German are the main languages of the seminar. Simultaneous interpretation of every lecture and discussion is available. In the plenary participants can also offer interventions in French.

Costs

The cost of the seminar, including full pension and a single dormitory room, is € 730,-. Financial support may be granted through the participants’ home churches or other institutions. We encourage participants to contact their church leaders in this regard. As in previous years, a small portion of participant fees are used to cover the cost of participants from Eastern Europe and other continents.

Dates

Arrival July 3, 2017 (registration in afternoon, welcome dinner and reception in evening)
Departure July 10, 2017 (breakfast provided)

To Sign Up

Participants are strongly encouraged to register by April 15, 2017 by contacting Elke Leypold at strasecumATecumenical-institute.org