Today Praeses Annette Kurschus, chair of the Council of the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD – Protestant Church in Germany), travels to Rome. Besides ecumenical conversations and encounters, the visit will focus on the work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy (ELCI). “Pastors sent by the EKD serve in many of these mainly German-speaking Lutheran congregations and do great work for the local people,” says Kurschus. She is looking forward to preaching at the 100th anniversary of Christ Church in Rome on Sunday (26 June, 10 a.m.) all the more, she adds.
Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will also participate in the special service. The church building, which belongs to the EKD, is used by the Evangelical Lutheran parish in Rome, founded in 1817. “For us Protestants, Christuskirche is not just our ‘permanent representative’ in Rome. From the start it has been a place of ecumenical hospitality and mutual understanding. As no other church, Christ Church in Rome stands for what has become possible in Protestant-Catholic dialogue in the last 100 years. The anniversary of this church is also an occasion to look back, full of gratitude, at the path that already lies behind us,” says the Council Chair.
Christuskirche in Rome was, in 1983, the first Protestant church worldwide to be visited by a pope since the Reformation in the 16th century. After John Paul II, his successors Benedict XVI (2010) and Francis (2015) were guest preachers there. “Christ Church wrote church history,” Praeses Kurschus underlines. “It was, and is, a place in which Protestants and Catholics overcome barriers, seek the ties that bind, and glorify Christ as their common Lord. I am very pleased that this continuing mandate is also appreciated by the Vatican and that Cardinal Koch is celebrating the church anniversary with us.”
The construction of Christuskirche in the Ludovisi district of Rome, began in 1911 based on plans by architect Franz Schwechten, who also designed the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin. Building work was greatly delayed by the First World War so that the consecration of the church could only take place in 1922.
You are warmly invited to report on the festive service on Sunday 26 June, at 10 a.m. in Christ Church (Via Sicilia 70, Rome).