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Cologne: Preachers’ Day in St. Elisabeth

“Today I do nothing else than usual, when I read the catechism, testify of faith, give spiritual impulses, proclaim the good news. The only difference is that we now call it sermon, which I do, ”says Marianne Arndt in the St. Elisabeth Church in Höhenberg. For the first time on Saturday, a Catholic church in Cologne will be one of the locations of the nationwide Preachers’ Day, which the Catholic women’s community kfd has been organizing since 2020 on the commemoration of the apostle Junia on May 17th.

The sermons of twelve spiritual leaders and companions in twelve Roman Catholic churches are under the motto “Equal and justified – see, I am making everything new”. Officially, the sermon there is reserved for consecrated men, women are only allowed to open their mouths as lecturers.

A church policy statement

“Of course this is a church policy statement here and now. But it shouldn’t be, we just want to celebrate God in our midst as always, ”continues Marianne Arndt. When it comes to the right of women to preach, the kfd invokes the apostle Junia. The apostle Paul sends greetings to them and Andronicus in a letter to the Romans. He names both of them relatives, fellow sufferers in captivity, outstanding personalities among the apostles and believers who were professing and practicing Christians of the early Church even before him.

To this day, however, biblical scholarship is not in agreement as to whether Junia – in the old Bible editions of Junia – is actually a woman. One thing is certain: St. Junia has long been venerated in the Orthodox Church. In the standard translation of the Bible from 2016, the probably incorrect name spelling “Junias” has already been corrected.

Symbolic pictures brought to the altar

“The future of the new church is being built here” can be read on a sign with a construction site pictogram next to the St. Elisabeth portal. The fact that the choir sings the hymn “Sun of Justice, Rise in Our Time” when the host, Pastor Franz Meurer, Marianne Arndt and the altar boys move in, is symbolic. Parishioners bring symbols such as keys, candles, wedding rings and rainbow flags to the altar. They tell stories of people who feel excluded from the Catholic Church, and express the wish for a church in which people can proclaim the word of God regardless of gender and life plan.

Experienced church clerk and hospital chaplain Marianne Arndt tells of Junia and the commandment from the Gospel of John to render love to one another. “Inwardly, I think ‘mother’ about the Lord’s Prayer,” says Pastor Meurer before praying together with the 60 or so people attending the service. He does not give the final blessing alone, everyone forms great gestures of blessing with arms and hands.

Diversity in the Church of the Future

“It is important to set an example that it must be normal for us women to preach in church services,” says Petra Mokry. Bernd Jürgens is impressed by the “team spirit” of the church service organizers. The punk Maria with baby Jesus on the altar steps is the work of his partner Beate Stevens. Diversity is welcome in the church of the future, sculpture is supposed to mean. “Further development is not just a women’s issue,” says Jürgens, who wears the kfd’s purple cross on his lapel. The choice of colors goes back to the Greek purple dealer Lydia, who hosted the apostle Paul on his mission tour and then founded the first Christian community in Philippi.

The conclusion of the churchgoers: Petra Mokry and Bernd Jürgens take away words and a mood that “encourage” from the unusual Catholic service. A live recording is available on the Internet.

www.kfd-bundesverband / predigerinnentag2021

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