Easter 2017 brings an ecumenical first: FSPC President to deliver cycle of sermons in Catholic Church

Gottfried Locher, Council President of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, makes a powerful statement for ecumenism during the “500 years of Reformation” Jubilee year. Following an invitation by Abbé Christian Schaller, he will deliver sermons in all Passiontide and Easter worship services in the Roman Catholic main church of Bern.

The background of this ecumenical first is the “500 years of Reformation” Jubilee.  The Reformation changed all of Switzerland. Thus, we want to celebrate together and contemplate the future path of ecumenism in our times.

In six sermons, Locher aims to convey to church-goers the mystery of death and resurrection.  “I am delighted to celebrate Passiontide and Easter in ecumenical fellowship for once. The Reformed culture of the sermon is an ecumenical jewel. With its help, we can transcend confessional boundaries. During Christianity’s greatest feast, we all celebrate the same thing. Despite all our differences, there is more that connects us than divides us.”

For the Catholic Church, this shared celebration also has great significance. Abbé Christian Schaller, pastor of the Trinity Church in Bern: “We are the oldest Catholic parish in a Reformed area in Switzerland. Here in Bern, there have been pioneers of ecumenism on both sides – for 220 years.  During this long time, much has happened – pleasant and unpleasant things, hopeful things, but also injuries. Our shared Easter time serves to heal the wounds, to express our gratitude for the progress we’ve made, and to challenge us to continue on our way together.”

On the following dates, Christians can attend joint worship services at Trinity Church in Bern (at Taubenstrasse 6, CH-3011 Bern; sermon titles in parentheses):

  • Ash Wednesday, March 1, 6:60 p.m.
    (“Praying for beginners.” How to strike up a conversation with God)
  • Palm Sunday, April 9, 11.00 a.m.
    (“Status symbols for kings”. How much horsepower does a person need?)
  • Holy Thursday, April 13, 6.30 p.m.
    (“Washing day for the boastful.” A new angle on hierarchy)
  • Good Friday, April 14, 3.00 p.m.
    (“Solar eclipse.” Words in the dark)
  • Easter Vigil (Saturday), April 15, 9.00 p.m.  
    (“10000 lumen.”
    This is the night!)
  • Easter Sunday, April 16, 11.00 a.m.
    (“O star.” Who has the last word… and who doesn’t.)

The Reformation Jubilee also features other ecumenical events: On April 1, 2017, the national ecumenical celebratory worship service “Together towards the center” takes place in Zug (with the Bishop of Basel, Felix Gmür, and FSPC President Gottfried Locher). The service is held in honor of the joint celebrations of 500 years of Reformation and 600 years of Nicholas of Flüe.  – From May to September, the FSPC and the Swiss Bishops’ Conference will also co-host the “Swiss Pavilion” at the World Reformation Exhibition in Wittenberg, Germany.