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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sabah Heilbronn Ecumenical Partnership ~ the 7th Day

Raymond Wong

Heilbronn, Germany : On Friday, 28th September, our 12-member delegation took a one and half hour journey by van towards south west to Stuttgart. We met up with Bishop July (pronounced as Julie) a Protestant Bishop who is head of the Evangelical and Lutheran Church based in Stuttgart.
Bishop July (2nd. left) speaking to the group
He pointed out on the strength of the Heilbronn Sabah partnership and was glad that he could meet the group. He also mentioned that he is in communication with all Lutheran Churches including the Head of the Lutheran Church of Malaysia. He is also in constant contact with the Roman Catholic Church through the Vatican.
A gift to the Bishop from the leader of the group
Europe is the home country of Christianity. The decreasing new faithful poses a big challenge for all. The population is about a third Lutherans, another one third, Roman Catholics and the balance with no or belonging to other faiths.

A question was put forward to him on the biggest challenge he is facing. It is secularisation where religion and tradition crops up. Families in Europe are getting smaller with an average of 1.3 children per family. The number of hours allocated to the teaching of religion in school is insufficient. Efforts must be put in, to build bridges rather than walls. It is also noted that there are more female than male in the study of theology. The  shrinking of churches in the present  time is quite worrying. The church must prove itself relevant to attract  lapsed Christians back into the fold.
Stuttgart City at midday
Part of Stuttgart City
Beautiful building of Stuttgart
We were guided to a short visit to Waiblingen, Korber-Hohe where the building has two chapels; both the Protestant Church and the Catholic Church. It is constructed in a semi circle structure and a common area in a circular shape. On the left is the Protestant chapel and the chairs are movable to allow fellowship after the service.
Explaining on the common area
On the right is the Roman Catholic chapel and the seating is in a semi circular manner. All the windows have colourful paintings with biblical interpretations. The artist who came out with the design was at hand to brief on the meaning of the paintings. He explained on the common area, the pictures on the windows of both the Protestant chapel and the Roman Catholic chapel.
The Protestant Chapel
The paintings on the windows of the Catholic Chapel
The Crucifix in the Chapel
The other side of the windows of the Catholic Chapel

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