June 12, 2007
Ruth Gledhill is The Times Religion Correspondent.
Yes, this really is a picture from a recent liturgy celebrated at a Protestant church in Cologne, as reported here. Thanks to Chris Gillibrand for his translation, which I've shamelessly lifted from his CathCon blog. I think this is a first for the Protestant Church anywhere. What a relief that it should have happened in Germany, and not the US or the UK.
Is this Church of Carthusians part of one of the numerous Protestant assemblies worldwide that are 'in bed with' with the CofE or TEC, so to speak? Preliminary enquiries with the CofE in
[PIC - which I decided not to post here]
'A female dancer dances in a skin coloured stocking in the middle of the church in front of the altar. She crawls about on the floor and wraps herself in a hanging down white cloth. Is this a blasphemous provocation, a scoffing at the Christian religion?
'No it is only one of the items on the agenda of the Protestant Church Assembly. The six-hundred-year-old church, the Church of the Carthusians in the south of
'For those who managed to get in, they had to take off their shoes on a white painted church interior. Above the entrance, there was the caption, “a warm welcome to the Vineyard of Love”. The space between the benches had been overlaid with velvet and from the ceiling wine and rose leaves were strewn onto the spectators. A man came to the microphone and announced, This is an erotic church service, can you move a bit closer together, all of you. This was followed by saxophone music and dance.
'The vicar arrived in a black cassock and barefoot. He announced that eroticism and lust are not taboo areas pushed aside by God. In fact, "lust has to be lived out", said Armin Beuscher, who tempered his speech immediately, by saying, “we are of course today in this service only able to implement this in a limited manner”.
'He talks about his family doctor who once surprised him with the question, “Do you pray with your wife regularly and do you make love regularly?” He was at first embarrassed and later became conscious of the deep meaning in this question, that both spirituality and eroticism are nourished by repetition. It is therefore certainly part of life which has been shown in the TV series “O God, Vicar” when he immediately after sleeping with a woman then went to a funeral. The speech at the grave, immediately thereafter came under the motto of the Church Assembly, “Lively, Powerful and more Spicy”. Beuscher’s conclusion was therefore “ perhaps we clergy should go more often to bed with our loved ones.”'The faithful were then asked to take part in an anointing ritual in which they should massage the forehead and hands of the person sitting next to them. Some go further and embrace each other whilst others kiss. The atmosphere gets more relaxed. This is how most church services should be said Birgit Kruger (59 years old) from near Hamburg and the Bavarian Gertrude Schirmer (72 years old) said “I found the anointment most beautiful”. Then they all said an Our Father together and then Vicar Beuscher admonishes the parish with the words “praise God with your body, your lust and tenderness”. Judging by the enthusiastic applause, the audience fully intend to do this.'
According to Chris, who saw this reported on German
Update: Is the
This is what Chris says: 'The congregration there is part of Kirche-Koelne. The Cologne church grouping is part of the Rheinland Protestants which hosted the Kirchentag, which is itself nominally independent from the EKD [the body the Meissen agreement was made with] as a result of Second World War [no more officially organised mass rallies]. The Rheinland Protestants however are part of the EKD. The erotic event itself was part of the official programme of the Kirchentag. Things are never simple in
This is what CofE says: 'The German Protestant Kirchentag (DEKT) is a lay-led festival launched in 1949, whose organisation is independent of the 'official' Church. As we understand it, the 'Erotic Church Service' was organised by an independent special interest group as part of this year's DEKT programme, among approximately 3,000 other debates, church services, concerts etc, which together form one of the largest Christian festivals in Europe.
'The venue where the church service took place, the Evangelische Karthäuserkirche, is part of the Evangelischer Kirchenverband Köln und Region, which again is part of the regional church Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland, which is a member Church of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The Church of England and the EKD are in ecumenical relationship (not 'communion') through the Meissen Agreement.'
So they are in 'ecumenical relationship'. Is that how the Anglican Communion might end up describing its relationship with its own constituent parts? Still conceivable that some of them might end up at Lambeth as ecumenical observers.