Just ahead of Christmas, the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) has awarded the sought-after title “European City of Reformation” to seven more towns and cities.
Český Tĕšín has become the first town in the Czech Republic to be welcomed into the network of Reformation cities. “We are particularly delighted that the churches and municipal councils of this town straddling the Polish and Czech border have joined forces to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation together,” says CPCE General Secretary Bishop Dr. Michael Bünker. “The CPCE’s cities project provided the ultimate impetus,” with the Polish side Cieszyn having acquired the title earlier in the year.
A major highlight promises to be the activities in St. Andrews, Scotland, the first “European City of the Reformation” in the British Isles, where the tradition-steeped university is acting as the Church of Scotland’s public partner. Alongside academic and cultural projects, an ecumenical service of worship is planned for 31 October 2017 with a sermon delivered by Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, which is set to be attended by all the town’s churches.
La Rochelle, the French city port that was repeatedly held under siege during the religious wars of the 17th century, is also fostering ecumenical collaboration to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. “The United Protestant Churches in La Rochelle and the Catholic diocese will be jointly addressing the history of the Huguenots,” General Secretary Bünker explains. “The culture of remembrance that this signifies is to highlight the ecumenical developments and progress made between the churches to this day.”
The “Cities of the Reformation” have now made a significant geographical advance into the Baltic with the award of the title to Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia. “The city of Reval, as it was known at the time, witnessed Protestant preaching as far back as 1523,” Bishop Bünker points out.
Berne in Switzerland along with Bernburg an der Saale and Zwickau in Germany are the latest newcomers to swell the solid German and Swiss ranks within the network of European Reformation cities.
“By the time the new year takes hold, the preliminary talks will be concluded with Ljubljana, erstwhile home to Primus Truber, and the town of Puconci, both of which lie in Slovenia,” as General Secretary Bünker also reveals. “So we start the new year 2016 with 50 official Cities of the Reformation spread throughout 13 countries of Europe – and we look forward to welcoming many more.”