Friday was a special day: The transformation of ‘schools500reformation’ to the ‘Global Pedagogical Network – Joining in Reformation’ was realized at the Global schools500reformation Day. After a refreshing morning prayer lead by the students and teachers of the Matthias-Claudius-Schule (Germany) and the Institut Majengo (DR Congo) the whole schools camp started a march to the centre of Wittenberg. There at the festival tent of the World Reformation Exhibition hundreds of students and friends – including the participants of the International Schools Camp – came together to celebrate this event and to make protestant schools worldwide and their importance for the church, the politics and the society visible.
After a coming-together, Birgit Sendler-Koschel, Head of the Education Department of the Evangelical Church in Germany and Head of schools500reformation, opened the happening with a warm welcome of all guests. Exciting and motivating speeches by Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Education and Research and Margot Käßmann, Special envoy of the EKD Council for the Reformation anniversary in 2017, which focused the importance and the power of young peoples’ communities, were framed by rousing music of students and teachers of the Bodelschwingh-Gymnasium and the PSST Bafut. Finally, all the participants themselves enrolled together the new logo of GPENreformation over their heads joyfully celebrating the official start of a long-term network.
In a workshop phase organized by the team of the University of Bamberg, the students and teachers created “signposts towards global solidarity in protestant education”. They discussed in groups different questions about main issues that demand for more solidarity and reflected together how to promote solidarity in the global society and in everyday life
A highlight was the following balloon march: All participants walked together from the festival tent through the center of Wittenberg to the castle church, letting go balloons with good wishes for the future and the finder with them. At the castle church, Margot Käßmann started the countdown: 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 … and almost 500 balloons started their way from Wittenberg into the world.
And the next big happening followed right away: Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Chair of the Council of the EKD, Margot Käßmann, Henrik Simojoki, Professor of Protestant Theology at the University of Bamberg, Samuel Mutabazi, Director of the National Office of Protestant Education in Rwanda and Birgit Sendler-Koschel opened the ‘Theses door’ and everyone accessed the church through this historical and meaningful entrance to hold service together.
Heinrich Bedford-Strohm and Margot Käßmann welcomed everybody and introduced the church and its history to the guests. The special, festive atmosphere, the building and the introduction created, was underlined by some beautiful music of students of the Wilhelm-Löhe-Schule (Germany), led and accompanied by Moritz Metzner and Rev. Mark Meinhard.
The sermon of Samuel Mutabazi and Heinrich Bedford-Strohm inspired and clarified: There is injustice and inequality in the world and many young people must carry heavy burdens. But: We as a network and as the young generation have the strength to carry these burdens to the cross and – empowered by faith and gods unconditional love – to get rid of them and to change the existing conditions, aiming to create a better place for everybody.
A phenomenal end of this day was ensured by the bands ‘Jetlagged’ and ‘Retarded’ of the Evangelische Schule Neuruppin (Germany) who encouraged the students as well as their teachers to sing and dance and who finally made this day unforgettable.