The partnership link between Worcester and Magdeburg goes back to around the time when the Berlin Wall came down. In those early days, as they emerged from communist rule, people in former East Germany really welcomed such partnerships.
Our partnership began with one district of the Church Province of Saxony, around its cathedral city of Magdeburg. Gradually that extended to other districts, including Halberstadt and Stendal. Then a merger brought a new church (a regional church, rather like a very large diocese in our terms). The Province of Saxony joined with that of Thuringia church to become the new Evangelical Church in Central Germany (Evangelische Kirche in Mitteldeutschland). ‘Evangelical’ in their title is perhaps somewhat confusing for us: the German word means ‘Protestant’, rather than evangelical in our sense.
In this newly-created Regional Church, the bishop is in Magdeburg and the main church administration in Erfurt. Both are places with a lot of history. Indeed, this whole area of central Germany has a very rich and important past. The 10th century Holy Roman Emperor Otto I married Edith, the granddaughter of Alfred the Great: both are buried in Magdeburg Cathedral.
The region was also the cradle of the Reformation: to travel round the EKM is to travel to the places where Martin Luther lived his life and brought about a radical change in church life. Great composers such as JS Bach, and Handel hail from these parts.
Since 2014, we have had a formalised link with this newly church, committing ourselves to certain joint actions. These include developing parish to parish partnerships, of which we have more than a dozen. This is a way of building up a grassroots experience of church life in Germany, getting to know a local community and what makes it tick. Worcester Cathedral now shares its own link with Magdeburg Cathedral too.
We organise an exchange visit of newly-ordained clergy, so that our curates and theirs can experience something of the work of a pastor in another church, and maybe be inspired to start a parish partnership. We hold a biennial Three Confessions’ Conference, in which Roman Catholics from Magdeburg and Worcester form the third denomination alongside English Anglicans and German Protestants. These conferences look at particular issues facing church and society, sharing so much common experience in Europe. We invite one another to our special occasions, and sometimes use each other’s clergy as resources for our conferences.
If you are interested in exploring a parish partnership, but aren’t sure who to talk to, please contact Archdeacon Robert Jones.
Read a letter from Area Bishop Christoph Hackbeil read at a partnership social meeting in June 2019.
Read a report from Archdeacon Nikki when she visited churches in our partner diocese to look at how they were using their buildings.
Read about the last Three Confessions Conference at Holland House.