The “European Cities of the Reformation” project organised by the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe – CPCE – has grown to encompass three dozen communities spread across eight countries.
The coveted title was awarded to Constance in time for the city’s anniversary remembrance of Jan Hus being burned at the stake there on 6th July 1415. Bretten, the birth place of Philipp Melanchthon, and the university city of Heidelberg have also recently been named “European Cities of the Reformation”. Graz is the fourth city in Austria to have so far gained the title, and Debrecen is now the second participant in Hungary. The third dozen will be rounded off before the height of summer by the two German towns of Schmalkalden and Wertheim along with Steyr in Upper Austria. Further applications are in the pipeline.
“The large number of towns and cities getting involved already – after all, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is not until 2017 – makes networking efforts extremely important,” Bishop Dr. Michael Bünker, General Secretary of the CPCE, points out. Contact with the towns, cities and institutions taking part, and especially between the participants, needs establishing and encouraging. “Our role is to assist the towns and cities as well as we can in marketing their broad range of activities to commemorate the anniversary of the Reformation and to help fire the enthusiasm of the general public to take part.” Bünker cited the example of two particular “Cities of the Reformation” that will be publicising their anniversary events when they are formally awarded the title by the CPCE. In July, Torgau was presented its certificate as part of its Katharina Day celebrations, and Bretten will receive its title in a special ceremony at the European Melanchthon Academy.
A promotional film for the project is now available for participating cities to show at their special events. The CPCE commissioned Weimar-based designer Michael Geyersbach to produce this artistic portrayal of the concept of a “Reformation City”. The result is a five-minute film packed with powerful visual imagery, references and symbols set against unconventional musical highlights, which can be appreciated by a truly international audience as it requires no translation.
“The cities project’s website at www.reformation-cities.org is already recording a huge number of hits, which is surely in part thanks to the three different languages on offer (English, French and German),” Bünker believes. A recent enquiry via the website came from as far afield as Dallas, Texas, where a group of 40 Americans are keenly planning to visit Reformation cities along the Danube in 2017.