7 November 2009

Is there a gap in what we remember?

Over on Faith World, Reuters religion editor Tom Heneghan has a post entitled, "Some east Germans feel overlooked as Wall recalled":

As Germany celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, some Protestants feel the crucial role their church played in shepharding the democracy movement to success is quietly being overlooked. This seems strange to someone like myself who reported on those events back then. Any reporter in Berlin in the tense weeks before Nov. 9, 1989 knew the Protestant (mostly Lutheran) churches sheltered dissidents and was working for reform. But the idea that this was fading from public view came up during my recent visit to Leipzig when, at an organ recital in Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Thomas Church (Thomaskirche), the pastor mentioned the point in a sermon.When I later went up to Berlin, I ran the idea past a leading east German Protestant theologian and a pastor and two parish council members from the Gethsemane Church (Gethsemanekirche). That church in eastern Berlin was one of the most active centres of protest in the tense months before demonstrators forced open the Wall on Nov. 9, 1989. They all agreed ...

At the organ recital, Rev. Christian Wolff illustrated the point by mentioning a recent commemoration in Leipzig attended by German President Horst Köhler, Chancellor Angela Merkel and other dignitaries. “At the ceremony, Werner Schulz spoke of the role of the churches — nobody else did,” he noted, referring to a former East German dissident who is now a European Parliament deputy. Köhler didn’t go into it in his speech, the main address of the day. While the Protestant churches didn’t claim all the credit for the success of the protests, Wolff said, “it wasn’t just a quirk of history that Christians took leading roles in the late 1980s.” They acted out of their religious convictions that each person had God-given dignity and rights that the communists were denying them.
Read more here.


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