TRIER, Germany — Eighteen Christian denominations in Hamburg have launched an effort to share a single church building in a new seaside “Harbor City” residential development.
“It’s intended to serve the inhabitants of the Harbor City development, as well as tourists and people who work here, offering a place of silence and giving them the possibility to get in touch with God,” Antje Heider-Rottwilm told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper.
The 18 churches in “The Bridge” project decided to pool their resources in one ecumenical center. Participants include Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Old Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholic churches.
There is currently a square glass-and-wood temporary building run by Heider-Rottwilm and her husband, Martin Heider. They belong to a 50-year-old ecumenical Christian community known as Laurentiuskonvent.
The churches have asked Laurentiuskonvent to found a group in Harbor City as a place of prayer, hospitality and involvement with local residents and churches.
When finished, Harbor City will provide homes for 12,000 people and work for another 40,000, and will resemble similar developments such as the London Docklands.
“Harbor City does not only need the presence of a sacred place for all confessions, but also people that live as part of an ecumenical community and who are involved as Christians in the area,” the manager of The Bridge, Stephan Dreyer, told the Hamburger Abendblatt.
The chapel currently offers daily prayers and reflections conducted by pastors from different denominations. Once completed, the ecumenical center will have an ecologically sustainable church, residential and office area. The ground floor will have a chapel, seminar rooms, an information area and a cafe. Upper floors will house apartments for community members and guests.
The ecumenical project is not intended to compete with downtown congregations. Rather, it intends to build a bridge to hundreds of Christian congregations and institutions in the city, and to help build a social network in the growing Harbor City district.
The project also sees itself as a “bridge” for ecumenical questions. In 2008, a Russian Orthodox priest, a Catholic cathedral dean and a Methodist superintendent discussed the meaning of fasting during Lent.
Last May, church leaders marked the 500th birthday of Protestant Reformer John Calvin.