Category Archives: The Coburg Conferences

September 12 2019 – Times Letter Submission – Coburg, Bonhoeffer, Bell and Ashdown – Unpublished [Amended and re-submitted elsewhere]

 

 

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Dear Editor

There is much for which we can be thankful in the life and work of Paddy Ashdown (“Service of thanksgiving for Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon”, Times, Sept 11) – not least his well-researched last book “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944”.

Lord Ashdown concludes in his Epilogue:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Some of those “questions” will be addressed next month at the Coburg Conference in Chichester*, which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us, in the light of today’s political situation”.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

* October 10th to 14th 2019. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral Precinct, Chichester, West Sussex

 

UNPUBLISHED LETTER AMENDED AND RE-SUBMITTED ELSEWHERE – SEPT 13 2019 (Morning)

 

Dear Editor

Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.

In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the ecumenical Coburg Conference, which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”.

Yours sincerely

 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

 

* October 10th to 14th 2019. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral Precinct, Chichester, West Sussex

SEPT 13 2019 UPDATE (Evening)

The Coburg Conference (10-14 October) will take place in Chichester Cathedral and  ‘other venues’, such as Vicars’ Hall, but NOT including 4 Canon Lane (George Bell House before 2015 name-change – Ed) ~ Secretary of Chichester Cathedral Precentor

 

April 7 2019 – Coburg Conference 2011″ – Chichester and Arundel Cathedrals – ‘The Parish Proclaimer’

download (1)

Arundel Cathedral

https://www.arundelcathedral.org/proclaimer/Proclaimer%20Lent%202012_2.pdf

ECUMENICAL COBURG CONFERENCE XIV

By Anne Dunkley & Sherien Morgan

Since the 1980s, delegates from the Anglican Cathedral of Chichester, the
Evangelical Church of Bayreuth, the Lutheran Church of Berlin, and the Roman
Catholic Cathedral of Bamberg, have met every two years to discuss current topics
which affect them.

The 25th anniversary of the first conference was held in Chichester on 16 – 19
October last year, the delegation being led by the Dean of Chichester, the Very Revd.
Nicholas Frayling and attended by the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt. Revd. John Hind.
There were thirty-four delegates present and the conference took place largely within
the Cathedral Close, using Vicars’ Hall and George Bell House.

The Chichester delegation consisted of eight members, one of whom had not attended before. The theme was ‘The Challenge of Secularism in the New Europe’. Once again, summaries of the texts of the two keynote presentations had been translated and circulated in advance, and this was a great help in enabling delegates to discuss points arising from the presentations, both with the speakers, and with each other in the group
sessions.

This year’s theme was ‘The Challenge of Secularism in the New Europe’.
Daily worship was led in turn by the different delegations, whether in the Bishop’s
private chapel, the Lady Chapel of Chichester Cathedral or Arundel Cathedral; also
the delegates had the opportunity to attend Evensong in Chichester Cathedral sung
by the Cathedral choir.

The second day of the conference was held in the local parish of Arundel. Bishop
David Farrer, vicar of St. Nicholas Church, welcomed the delegates to the parish
church, itself unique in being an Anglican church which is attached to the Roman
Catholic Fitzalan Chapel, property of the Duke of Norfolk, and resting place of
deceased members of the Fitzalan Howard family for many hundreds of years. Only a
glass screen separates the two places of worship. Arundel parish has an active
ecumenical partnership with the town of Stegaurach in Franconia, where the Roman
Catholic congregation shares its church building with the Lutheran community, and
both communities jointly support an Indian aid project in Tamil Nadu.

Here, seated in the Anglican pews, the delegates heard the second keynote speaker
of the conference, Bishop Kieran Conry, Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and
Brighton, in a stimulating paper on ‘The Challenge of Secularism for the Churches in
Europe today’.
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Bishop Kieran explained that if secularism means the appropriation by the state of
things which formerly belonged to the church – amongst them authority, property
and social function, including teaching and nursing – it is not entirely negative. The
media expected the Pope’s visit to England and Scotland last year to be very
unpopular, in that he is Head of a Church that is seen to be contrary to values
promoted by society today, when in fact they were quite wrong and he was
received with great enthusiasm.
Society is not openly hostile, but the problem lies with the separation of the sacred
and what might be termed ‘secular’. The natural world is governed by reason, and
the Church can no longer claim its ancient authority as being the voice of God, as
this is not open to scientific scrutiny. Modern civilisation must be tolerant of
religion, but it is preferred that it is practised in private. The great threat is the
indifference of the great majority in society for whom religion is irrelevant, and the
danger is that we start to believe it and lose our nerve. But one of the most positive
aspects of the response to the Pope’s visit is a renewed sense of confidence amongst
Catholics and other Christians, and this must be one of the first responses to the
challenge. Dialogue between religions must be promoted and deepened, enabling us
to understand their ‘otherness’ as well as transcendent ‘otherness’ of God. This
dialogue will promote living together, working together for peace and justice, mutual
understanding and sharing of spiritual riches. And finally the need for humility is
very important, with Christ as our model. The church will not be heard today if she
shouts more loudly, but may be heard if she speaks more quietly.

Delegates divided up into small discussion groups to examine questions Bishop
Kieran had suggested. Meanwhile, it was indeed heart-warming to see Anglican
Dean Nicholas Frayling, Roman Catholic Bishop Kieran, Lutheran Bishop Dorothea
Greiner, and Anglican Bishop David Farrer deeply engrossed in discussion standing
in the chancel of St. Nicholas parish church.

Then to Arundel Cathedral, where the Dean, Canon Tim Madeley, introduced both
the building and the shrine of St. Philip Howard, son of the 4th Duke of Norfolk. The
daily conference worship was led here by the Bamberg delegation, and again was felt
to be particularly relevant, as it was the feast of St. Luke, who himself brought many
secular, positive elements into the church. The delegates were warmly welcomed by
the Mayor of Arundel, Mrs Wendy Eve, to Arundel Town Hall where lunch was
provided and served by the ladies of St. Nicholas church and Arundel Cathedral
together. Both Bishop Kieran and Canon Tim were able to join the conference
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delegates for lunch and also later for dinner. After lunch there was a visit of Arundel
Castle, by courtesy of His Grace, the Duke of Norfolk. During the tour of the Castle
the delegates learnt more about Arundel as the seat of the Earl Marshal of England,
and the home of the leading Roman Catholic family. It was remarked that many of
the portraits on the walls were of the same people whose portraits were seen in
Schloss Coburg during the last conference, and that they did not look any more
cheerful at Arundel!
The evening was dedicated to an Anniversary Dinner to celebrate 25 years of the
Coburg conferences, with the all-Sussex food being generously donated by local
producers. Guests of Honour were His Excellency Mr Georg Boomgaarden, the
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany and Mrs Boomgaarden.

The Ambassador made reference to his own keen interest in Bishop George Bell and his
work with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. There were many present with long-standing and
close links with the Coburg conferences both past and present, in particular Bishop
John Hind and Canon of Honour Wolfgang Klausnitzer, and it was a very happy
occasion.

St. Nicholas Church founded a thriving and enthusiastic link in 2002 with the
Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, sited in
Stegaurach, a small town on the outskirts of the World Heritage medieval city of
Bamburg in Bavaria, southern Germany. Many friendships have been formed with
the people of Stegaurach as a result of visits both ways, in which everyone, young
and not so young, is invited to take part. This link is of particular importance, as it is
a truly ecumenical link, St. Nicholas is the first Anglican Church in their diocese to
twin with a Catholic Church, which itself is shared with the Lutheran community of
Stegaurach, and the partnership is shared with us, the parishioners of the Cathedral.

Many visits have taken place since the summer of 2003, during the summer of 2010
thirty seven of us went again, when we visited Flossenburg concentration camp with
our friends – a deeply moving experience – and it was there that Dietrich
Bonhoeffer, great friend of Bishop George Bell, was executed in 1945. Indeed we
look forward to the next visit of our German friends this summer; they will arrive on
Wednesday 15 August and remain with us until Monday 20 August.
Whilst they are here, there will be a full programme of social activities, trips out and
many opportunities to join with them and our friends from St. Nicholas in acts of
worship, and you will also have a chance to meet with them after Mass at the
Cathedral.
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They are a very friendly group who speak English well. We have many host families
who already welcome visitors into their homes, however, this year we are looking for
even more volunteers to help with this side of the undertaking.

All we need is people to offer, for the most part, bed and breakfast. We would be
particularly delighted to hear from people who could host a young family.

If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please keep an eye on the
weekly parish newsletter for further details.

Editor’s Note

You can look at many photos and use the Google Translator (or similar) on the
website for Stegaurach: visit http://www.stegaurach.de

If you want to read more about ecumenism at work, you can visit a special page on
the Diocese of Chichester’s website: from their home page at http://www.diochi.org.uk
visit the ‘Activities’ section and then click on ‘European Ecumenical Committee’

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Chichester Cathedral

April 7 2019 – The Coburg Conferences – “From Wuppertal 1934 to Chichester 2019” – Peter Crosskey

George Bell, Bishop of Chichester

“From Wuppertal 1934 to Chichester 2019” by Peter Crosskey

The end of May 2019 will mark the 85th anniversary of the Barmen Declaration, which expressed the commitment of a small but determined group of Lutheran pastors to oppose the rise of Hitler and the National Socialists.

Meeting in the Gemarke Church, Wuppertal-Barmen, more than 130 delegates including pastors, committed Christians and theologians, issued a six-part declaration opposing mainstream German Christian acceptance of national socialism.

A full account of the historic 1934 Barmen Declaration can be found on the website of the Lutheran evangelist EKD church [ https://www.ekd.de/en/The-Barmen-Declaration-133.htm ]

Half a century later, in October 1984, an ecumenical conference in Chichester brought together German church leaders from both the FRG and GDR. Alongside Anglican theologians, they gathered to discuss practical aspects of rapprochement and Christian unity.

The event also celebrated the lives and work of Bishop George Bell and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The latter had been ministering to German-speaking congregations in London at the time of the Barmen Declaration, before returning to Germany in 1935.

The 1984 Chichester conference prepared the way for the first of the Coburg conferences in 1985, which has since been established as a rolling biennial series of ecumenical conferences hosted in rotation by three German churches  and the Diocese of Chichester.

A process that started in the wake of the 500th anniversary celebrations of Martin Luther’s birth, generated both ecumenical conferences and the 1987 Meissen Statement [ https://www.ekd.de/ekd_en/ds_doc/meissen_engl_.pdf ] – a six-article ‘road map’ for Christian unity.

The first article opens with the words: “God’s plan … is to reconcile all things in Christ…” and the second article discusses the nature of communion. The third article is a call for unity: “…to fulfil its mission the Church itself must be united.” The fourth article talks about communion as a shared act of faith, while the fifth article records a number of points of agreement and the sixth sets out the next steps for mutual acknowledgement. The final paragraph concludes with the words: “We know that beyond this commitment lies a move from recognition to the reconciliation of churches and ministries within the wider fellowship of the universal Church.”

This autumn will see Chichester hosting the next Coburg conference [ https://www.chichester.anglican.org/european-ecumenical-committee/ 

At the time of writing, Chichester cathedral’s European ecumenical 

committee had this to say about the Coburg conferences:

“The first ecumenical conference held in Chichester in 1984 to celebrate Bishop George Bell proved so valuable that the regular ‘Coburg conferences’ were born. Held every other year, delegates from the Diocese of Chichester, the Evangelical Kirchenkreis Bayreuth, the Lutheran church in Berlin-Brandenburg, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bamberg meet for discussions, lectures and workshops on a variety of topics and current issues. It is an opportunity to share and solve problems together and exchange news of parish links. A very strong bond of support, fellowship and understanding has developed.”

In his 2018 Easter sermon [https://www.chichester.anglican.org/news/2018/04/01/bishop-martins-easter-day-sermon/ ], Bishop Martin Warner talked of his conference trip to Germany in 2017, when the Lutherans were celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran reformation. His visit was preceded by (Re)imagining Europe, a conference held in Rome and organised by churches across the EU. 

Bishop Martin observed: “They were drawing from a vision that was formed at the very moment when Europe was descending into the second world war, indeed when Bishop George Bell was seeking to support Christians who were separated from us by that conflict, but not in faith.”

The 2019 Chichester leg of the Coburg Conferences programme will open in October.