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Internationaler Kirchenkonvent - informations in english

The cooperation with churches from abroad

The « Internationaler Kirchenkonvent (Rheinland Westfalen) »
International Church Convention (Rhineland Westphalia)

General conditions:

Important notice: membership to a protestant church is clearly defined by the church tax. In Germany you have to declare either “Protestant” or “Roman-Catholic” (or “Jewish” or “Muslim” or “without confession”) to the tax office. The church tax (9 % on the annual income) is automat-ically withdrawn by the employer.
Consequence: Most of the foreign congregations do not benefit from the privileges of the two main confessions in Germany. They are organised as societies (and not as “Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts” - public corporations) and make their living only on the contributions and donations of their members. Frequently, foreigners declare “protestant” when they come to Germany and pay hence both, the church tax and a fee in their church from abroad.
Consequence: The German church remains the stronger and more powerful partner in the co-operation as to financial, human or social resources. This strong position contradicts to the thought that we are all equal as sisters and brothers in Christ. It is thus a crucial point of the cooperation between us to use the privileges and the gifts of an established church and to avoid its theological, administrative or liturgical dominance.

Diversity of the member churches
In the three “Länder”, Nord Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, there are at least 550 different fellowships and Christian groups of foreign origine and language. The “Inter-nationaler Kirchenkonvent IKK” (international church convention (Rhineland Westphalia) gath-ers 143 assemblies and groups of different origin and multiple characters. The link in the diversi-ty is defined by

There is a great variety of traditions among the member churches of IKK that does accept nei-ther Roman-Catholic congregations (that are organised as foreign ministries in the midst of the dioceses), nor Orthodox, nor anti-ecumenical (extremely charismatics, conservatives as some congregations of Germans coming from Russia):

As far as the geographic origin is concerned, most of the congregations - 83 of 143 – are rooted in Africa (Congo, Ghana, Ethiopia, Cameron and Angola), 32 come from Asia (above all from Korea, India and Indonesia, from China), 20 from Europe (Hungary, Finland, Netherlands, Spain etc.), three more from South America (Brazil) and five called themselves international and multilingual.
However, the European congregation count most members: the most numerous foreign church-es are the Hungarian and the Finish (1.200 with five places of worship).


A short History of IKK
Before 1997: local partnerships between German and foreign congregations
1997: project of an international church of a Rhenish pastor when she returned from China, Since 1998: program of the United Evangelical Mission (VEM) in Wuppertal “cooperation be-tween foreign and German churches” (research, edition of an index, contacts)
1999: first meeting of delegates of the VEM, the Rhenish and the Westphalian Church and for-eign churches, opening of a “list” of groups and assemblies from abroad
Since 2000: committee of churches from abroad established
Since 2001: start of the annual training program “Kikk” (“Kirche im interkulturellen Kontext”) church in an intercultural setting (7 terms since)
Since 2002: criteria for membership to the list, general assemblies each year
2008: the program “cooperation between German and foreign churches” is transferred to the Churches of the Rhineland and Westphalia
2011: special ministry established for the program
2011: commission of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) working on the chances and challenges of the growing presence of churches from abroad in Germany
2012: “Internationaler Kirchenkonvent IKK” (international church convention (Rhineland West-phalia) established
2013: Founding of regional conventions and networks.
2014: First modifications of law in advantage of member churches of IKK (hiring of employees, opening of church committees etc.)

Criteria for membership in the « Internationalen Kirchenkonvent IKK »
(International Church Convention (Rhineland Westphalia)

(Formerly: list of congregation of foreign origin and language in the Evangelical Church of the Rhineland and the Evangelical Church in Westphalia).

 

  1. The congregation applying for membership agrees with the following basis of faith of the World Council of Churches: “We belong to the fellowship of churches which con-fess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures, and there-fore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” It is a community of churches on the way to visible unity in one faith and one Eucharis-tic fellowship, expressed in worship and in common life in Christ. It seeks to advance towards this unity, as Jesus prayed for his followers, "so that the world may believe." (John 17:21)
  2. The congregation is aware of being, together with other churches of German and for-eign languages, a part of the body of Christ in Germany and is committed to an ecumenical cooperation with churches of German and other language. It is committed to solidarity according to the biblical background: “This is my commandment that you love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). It is engaged to avoid all splitting and to promote unity “so that all become one" (John 17:21).
  3. A steady structure of the congregation. It is registered as a society (e.V. “eingetragener Verein”). If not, it has to exist at least for three years with a sustainable structure. At least one responsible person should speak sufficiently German.
  4. If the congregation is guided by a pastor, he or she should in general be ready to join training programs organized by the Evangelical German Churches. Such programs are offered and run in cooperation with representatives of churches of foreign lan-guage and are supposed to enlarge their knowledge of the church’s situation and of the social and theological issues in Germany. They shall be a meeting point of Chris-tians of different languages to make them learn from each other.
  5. The congregation should attach two (written) letters of recommendation to their application, one in preference by the hosting church, another by a network or a council of congregations of a foreign language or by a third congregation of their place that matches with the criteria. The delegates of the congregation should enter into a con-versation with the members of the committee which decides finally on the demand. The recommendation should be short and should prove that the congregation recom-mended corresponds to the criteria given. As a consequence, it is helpful for the recommending congregation to read the criteria before.


The crucial points about the cooperation with churches from aboard


The Committee of IKK


How the member churches are benefitting from the membership:

ekir.de / 05.09.2017


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