Cooperation with the “Chemin Neuf”

For years now the Institute has worked with the ecumenical community of Chemin Neuf. This originally charismatic Catholic movement has come to include members of a whole range of Christian denominations and is present now on all continents. The Institute’s Prof. André Birmelé has been a particularly invited Protestant theologian to accompany the community in its life and work.In March 2019, Chemin Neuf organized a three-day international conference in the Abbaye de Hautecombe, Savoie, for an encounter with members of the Pentecostal movement. Two hundred people and above all youth took part in the event. After historical and theological introductions the focus shifted to dialogue. This dialogue was, however, not in the form of a traditional colloquium; rather, it was primarily common worship. The liturgy of the hours, evening prayers, and worship according to various traditions were all central. Only at the edges, so to speak, were the customary theological questions asked. Potentially controversial questions (for example, about the understanding of the church) were secondary, such that common joy in God could have primary expression.

For the Strasbourg Institute, involvement in this kind of work is of the greatest significance. It is a serious question put to our usual way of doing ecumenical research. Certainly, the work that has been done so far must continue, but at the same time it is clear that entirely other avenues of approach to ecumenism exist, especially in the younger generations. Establishing new connections and exploring new paths is an important challenge in the movement for the unity of the church.