Baptists 175 years (10/12)
1985-1995 Baptists world-shaking times
This politically exciting decade began in 1985 with haunting reminders of peace: 40 years after the war published in the Evangelical Churches of the East and West together a "word for peace". President von Weizsacker dared hope the 8th May would not be the last date of the story for all Germans when they took to heart the commitment of this day of peace and reconciliation. And the National Board of BEFG DDR spoke in view of the arms race of our commitment to peacemaking.
Nevertheless, the peace movement played in the 80s in the East and West at Baptists only a minor role. Although the Baptist "Shalom Initiative" grew in the West, "win campaign hopes" a new emerged. Although the Federal line West began 1987 an "AK community and global responsibility," a, the East German leadership convened in 1984 a "AK peace issues." But the great, moving subjects in the collars were more internal nature: About the understanding of Scripture and the attitude toward ecumenism was wrestled to the west, but many new charismatic risers next to the distressed communities, the leaders in the East. A member of the Federal Council in 1985 in Dortmund, complained that in seven long plenary sessions only ten minutes left for the major pressing issues of the world and peace!
1988/89, the Baptists were present when the first time in the history of delegates from all the major denominations "Ecumenical Assemblies" in both the GDR and the Federal Republic came together. According to our Christian responses to threats to peace, justice and the creation was sought. This "conciliar process" motivated and strengthened as the churches and groups in the GDR to engage nonviolently for justice in the country and a few months later to take over the peaceful revolution in an important role.
Baptists have understood their faith in the past tend to be less politically. There were for example the working relationships with the national churches, which resulted in these years in the collars an opening for political and ethical questions of theology?
The GDR National Board adopted at its last meeting in 1991 a statement on the results of the Ecumenical Assembly. Painfully we would recognize, so it says, "that our spirituality hardly a changing and formative influence on the effective structure of our world was." Thankfully, the theological horizon expansion was approved and as a spiritual word that calls us to repentance, understood.
In October 1989, there were only a few Baptists, who participated in the GDR to the prayers for peace, little churches that opened their homes for opposition groups. "For us, the turning point came early Baptists. We were not so far." (Uwe Dammann) A few weeks or months later, but also some Baptist pastors sat at the round tables, church members stood for election and took over political responsibility. In the small town Buckow / Märkische Switzerland e.g. some Baptists in various management positions for many years with much local politics.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the path to national unity as early as May 1990, the unification of the two German frets on the agenda of the Federal Council of East and West. In May 1991 in Siegen, the union contract was signed solemnly. Besides great gratitude also found the pain more than 46 brothers and 12 Elimgemeinden its expression, they had now left the GDR Federation. Big changes - for both sides - were imminent: The Theological Seminary in Buckow finished its work in 1991, but also for the Hamburg seminar the years were numbered - the Federal Council 1994, the construction of the new training center Elstal near Berlin. For small communities in the east that fell into economic distress, a solidarity fund was formed. And the analysis of the history of the East German federal started ...
Optimism in the Mission - 1993 for the first time "Pro Christ"-Evangelism from Essen, 1995 in Leipzig, the Baptist Year of Evangelism "break 95/96".
And our responsibility for the world? 1995 recommended the Federal line communities, on 8 May to thank God "for 50 years of peace, with whom he has given us a wide open space in which we set off again in his name ... (and) encourages people to live on his behalf as a peacemaker, home and shop in town and society. " Be ambassadors of reconciliation - with this great hope broke the Baptist family, towards the turn of the millennium.
Reinhard Assmann (Berlin)