Representatives of the German Protestant Church met in East Berlin, Feb 12, for the opening service at Marienkirche (St Mary's Church) of the third All German Synod.
Representatives of the German Protestant Church met in East Berlin, Feb 12, for the opening service at Marienkirche (St Mary's Church) of the third All German Synod. Seen arriving are Bishop Dibelius, chairman of the council of the Evangelical Church, and Bishop Kunst, Chaplain-General of the Bundeswehr.
By order of the East German authorities, the synod was forbidden to hold any other meeting in East Berlin except the purely religious service on the opening day. A number of West German Church leaders, including seven bishops, were barred even from attending this. East German police prevented them from entering the Soviet sector, saying that their presence on the territory of East Berlin was not wanted. West Berlin's Mayor Brandt called the intervention a breach of law and a violation of agreement on free movement in Berlin.
With a conference in East Berlin - in contrast to earlier occasions - banned, the Synod decided to meet in West Berlin. Giving his report at the opening session, Bishop Dibelius said that, in East Germany, the All German Protestant Church was fighting a battle for life or death. Attempts to split the Church had increased year by year, but its unity had been maintained and even strengthened. The Church honestly wished for friendly relations with the East German authorities, but so long as Communists continued maliciously insulting the Church it was too much to take professions of friendship seriously.