Visions and perspectives of churches in the 21st century

DSCF7893The symposium named „The Church on the Road: Visions and Perspectives for Journey through the 21st Century”, which took place on 13 April 2021 at the Charles University ETF, commemorated two important Czech practical theologians, Josef Smolík (1922–2009) and Pavel Filipi (1936–2015). The Department of Practical Theology of the ETF UK in cooperation with the Prague Seniorate of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren invited their pupils and theologians from abroad and conceived the memory as the development of Smolík’s and Filipi’s ideas about the church in the current context.

The main contribution was made by prof. Alexander Deeg from the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leipzig. He pointed out that the problem of the church is always a problem of language. He was critical of the subjectification of the Christian message, which occurs when the gospel is reduced to a certain doctrinal and ethical content. Churches often believe that it is enough to transfer this content into new, more attractive forms. In contrast, Deeg stressed the need to understand the gospel as a dynamic process. The task of Christians and churches, following the story of the disciples’ journey to Emmaus, is to seek a new conversation about God.

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Subsequent contributions highlighted the importance of shared visions for the formation of a congregational community (Scott Hamilton Andrews) and worship services as a pivotal event in which the visions and understandings of the Church are formed (Tabita Landová). Other contributions concerned the activities of professors Josef Smolík and Pavel Filipi in the field of ecumenics, which they both connected with practical theology (Martin Vaňáč), current perspectives of chaplain’s service (Ladislav Beneš) and the possibility of using the church as a space for religious education (Ondřej Macek). The last two contributions formed a certain contrast: While one sought inspiration for churches in the field of management (Jiří Bochez), the other in the field of common confession and receiving God’s grace in worship (Jana Hofmanová).

The all-day symposium was held online, partly in English with a Czech translation, and attracted the attention of hundred participants. The video recording from the symposium is published on the YouTube channel of ETF UK. All papers will be published in the Theological Reflection journal.

Tabita Landová