53rd International Ecumenical Seminar 2019

Doctrines divides – Spirituality unites?

Strasbourg, France, July 3 – 10, 2019

Ecumenical dialogues have in the last decades occupied themselves chiefly with controversial questions of doctrine, even while knowing full well that the relationships between churches and people encompass a great deal more than matters of doctrine. Much has been achieved in these dialogues, as was seen clearly in the ecumenical celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
The dialogues, however, have their limits. On the one hand, in many cases it is hard to see how the divisive character of certain doctrines might be overcome. On the other hand, it is important to maintain that doctrine is intended to orient the Christian life and assist it. But even when agreement is reached on matters of doctrine, the relationship between the respective churches is altered only over a long period of time, and only if the doctrine is actually anchored in the living faith of the church members. Now, for many people today, questions of doctrine have lost their meaning, but spirituality and the experience of faith have grown ever more important.

Strasbourg Cathedral. Photo: Andrew Wilson, 2015

Therefore, it is ecumenically of great interest to see how certain forms of spirituality that originally arose in one church or another are now being practiced in greater and greater numbers by Christians in other churches. Ignatius Loyola’s spiritual exercises, Orthodox icons, the Jesus Prayer, the Herrnhut Daily Watchwords, and charismatic praise music are just a few examples of this. Such forms of spirituality connect Christians across the borders of their churches. What ecumenical potential lies in such commonly practiced spirituality? What faith content is actualized and lived out in them? How can the respective forms of spirituality relate to the doctrines of different churches with their distinctive approach to the Christian faith?

These are the questions that the seminar will ask and try to answer. In so doing we are altering the old ecumenical motto “Doctrine divides, service unites” to try out instead “Doctrine divides, spirituality unites?”—but with a question mark at the end. Speakers from different churches, communities, movements, and nations will present examples of cross-confessional spirituality, report on their experiences, reflect on them, and in so doing try to break new ecumenical ground.

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.


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.


The cost of the seminar, including full pension and a single dormitory room, is € 750,-. 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.


Arrival July 3, 2019 (registration in afternoon, welcome dinner and reception in evening). Departure July 10 (breakfast provided), 2019, in Strasbourg, France.

Registration and Information

Registration until April 15, 2019. For information please contact Elke Leypold: strasecumATecumenical-institute.org.

Download flyer: Flyer-Seminar-e-2019


Séminaire Protestant