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European Methodists plan festival in Germany

2/14/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York

NOTE: An artist's rendering of John Wesley is available at http://umns.umc.org/photos/headshots.html.

By United Methodist News Service

European Methodists are planning a "festival of faith" July 30-Aug. 3 in Potsdam, Germany, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of John Wesley's birth.

The event honoring the founder of Methodism will be the first major initiative of the European Methodist Council, according to Colin Ride, Europe secretary for the British Methodist Church. Ride is the festival's co-coordinator with Armin Besserer, the council's secretary. Council membership includes British Methodist, Irish Methodist and United Methodist churches, as well as those in independent denominations in Italy, Portugal, Spain and elsewhere.

"With this festival, we want to praise God, to thank God for the blessing of the Methodist movement over the last 300 years, and to ask God for renewal and revival," the festival brochure stated.

Ride told United Methodist News Service the festival is "an attempt to energize Methodists from all over Europe." Churches from different countries are organizing and leading various parts of the program.

The goal, he added, is to inspire church members to pursue mission and break some of the barriers caused by language differences or national boundaries. About 800 church members of all ages are expected to attend. German and English will be the festival's official languages, reflecting the bulk of participants, but a third language may be added and translation equipment will be available, he said.

Although participants from the United States and elsewhere are welcome, the festival is "specifically designed for people from Europe to meet together," he added.

The program will reflect different cultural backgrounds and the different ways in which people learn, he explained. For example, while all Bible studies will reflect the same texts, they will be offered to participants in four different ways, ranging from listening to a straightforward lecture to expressing themselves through art.

Festival activities will take place on the Herrmannswerder Peninsula in Potsdam, just outside of Berlin. The opening ceremony on the evening of July 30, organized by the German United Methodist Church, will focus on introductions of people and groups from various countries.

Daily activities July 31-Aug. 2 will include Bible study, meetings of "Wesley groups" of eight to 10 people, workshops, liturgical evening prayer, a café and other late-night events.

The July 31 evening program, organized by the United Methodist Church of Northern Europe, will be a music-filled celebration of Wesley's birth. That will be followed Aug. 1 by an international evening with ecumenical guests and people from politics and society, organized by United Methodists from southern and central Europe. The Aug. 2 evening program will feature a British Methodist-sponsored "love feast" from the time of Wesley, with testimonies, songs and proclamations.

The festival ends with a Sunday morning worship service Aug. 3, planned by United Methodists of Germany and Russia. More information is available online at www.methodist.org.uk/europeanfestival.htm in English and www.emk.de/festival in German.

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