Pilgrim relay to the world congress of the World Council of Churches

May 14th and 15th through Krefeld
A rally along the rivers

The relay of pilgrims to the World Congress of the Ecumenical Council of Churches passes through the city of silk. For the Krefeld team, the relay is over with the handover to the Düsseldorf group on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

When the pilgrim relay to the World Congress of the Ecumenical Council of Churches also passes through Krefeld on May 14th and 15th, then this is an important, central date for the Christians in the silk city, but above all for the churches involved. The background: This congress will take place in Karlsruhe from August 31, 2022. “It sounds far away at first. But when you know that the Geneva-based Council of Ecumenical Churches only meets somewhere in the world every four years, then it’s suddenly very close. For context: The last congress on European soil to date took place in Uppsala, Sweden – and that was in 1968,” says Barbara Schwahn, superintendent of the Krefeld-Viersen church district.

Accordingly, the churches in the state have come up with something special: a kind of rally along the rivers to the conference venue in Karlsruhe. The presentation is a little reminiscent of the relay marathon, with which the Olympic flame is traditionally brought from Olympia in Greece to the respective venue of the games – including a kind of “baton”. This is a container into which each station along the Rhine contributes something. “These can be wishes for the conference, but also other things, maybe a song, a poem or something like that,” explains Schwahn.

According to Wolfgang Wegner, who represents the New Apostolic Church on the board of the Working Group of Christian Churches in Krefeld (ACK), Krefeld was actually included in the squadron by chance. “Actually, the transfer from Duisburg to Düsseldorf should take place. But Duisburg could only do it on Saturday, Düsseldorf only on Sunday. So we came in as mediators, so to speak,” he says with a grin, before continuing more seriously: “But from my point of view, that’s totally right. Because Krefeld cultivates a very lively ecumenism. The ACK Krefeld is in fact older than the federal organization. I am also a delegate in Mönchengladbach and have a direct comparison and I have to say: ecumenism in Krefeld is something special.”

So on Saturday at 11 a.m. the baton will be taken over at the church of St. Matthias in Hohenbudberg. From there, a foot group takes him two and a half kilometers to St. Peter in Uerdingen. “There will be an ecumenical prayer there on Sunday at 12.30 p.m., by the way, on the stele that is also part of the Way of St. James. From there we cycle to the wheelhouse of SV Bayer Uerdingen, where Georg Nuno Mayer takes over the baton and takes us to the Langst-Kierst jetty by canoe. We will cover the route parallel with the bike. A group from Ratingen joins us here and then we continue to the Church of the Resurrection in Oberkassel. Overall, the bike tour is around 20 kilometers long and is ridden at a moderate pace, somewhere between 12 and 15 kilometers per hour,” explains Klaus Armonies. The environmental and energy officer of the evangelical church district of Krefeld-Viersen will lead the tour.

At the jetty in Langst-Kierst, where the ferry from Düsseldorf Kaiserswerth arrives, another organizer will also come into play: Ariane Stedtfeld, consultant for development education for the Evangelical Church District, will be waiting for the cyclists with a refreshment station. “We will serve juices, snacks and some other refreshments there. The highlight is that everything is fair trade. We work together with the Fairtrade-Town Krefeld initiative and buy the goods from the Eine-Welt-Shop, for example,” she says.

For the Krefeld team, the relay is over with the handover to the Düsseldorf group on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. At least as far as the organizational part is concerned. “The relay is one thing. But of course the conference that is going to has an impact on all Christians in the world. I don’t know yet whether I’ll be there myself. Also, we don’t yet know exactly what we’re going to put in the capsule. All of that is yet to be decided. What is crucial, however, is that a message of peace, justice and the integrity of creation emanates from the congress. The motto ‘The love of Christ moves, reconciles and unites the world’ was decided long before the war in Ukraine, but it has become terribly topical as a result,” says Schwahn.