Guidelines for the International Conference of Christian Churches (Internationale Konferenz Christlicher Gemeinden, IKCG) within the district of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover
The International Conference of Christian Churches is a free network of Christian congregations from all over the world, which have agreed to work together ecumenically with each other and with the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover.
These are predominately churches which, for various reasons, are not members of the Council of Christian Churches (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen, ACK).
The co-operation is based on a spirit of partnership and commitment: While retaining their independence with regards to organisation and theology, member churches also agree to the prerequisites specified below. They are willing to work together to promote the visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ and to testify together of God's love for the world in Jesus Christ. To this end, they contribute their own spirituality, tradition and cultural identity, and benefit from both, the experiences of the other member churches as well as from the Evangelical-Lutheran Church's support for their partner churches in the International Conference of Christian Churches.
1. The Members of the Conference undertake to fulfill the following prerequisites and criteria:
- The Church acknowledges the same statement of faith that is professed by the World Council of Churches. We consider ourselves part of the "fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
- The Church considers itself part of the body of Christ together with other Christian churches in Germany. It undertakes to work together ecumenically with other congregations and churches, regardless of their language, culture and origin. On the basis of the biblical verse, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12), the Church undertakes to act in solidarity. It will do whatever it can to promote unity and avoid dissensions, "that they all may be one" (John 17:21).
- The Church is organisationally stable, demonstrated by the fact that it has constituted itself as a registered association (eingetragener Verein, e.V.). Where this is not the case, the Church needs to have been in existence for three years and have a firm organisational structure. Also, at least one of the leaders must be able to speak German.
- The Church provides the Governing Body of the Conference with two written reference letters. One will, preferably, have been produced by the German host church, if existing. The second shall come from another local church which is a member of the International Conference or, alternatively, a network or council of churches of diverse language and origin. Representatives of the Church shall meet with representatives of the Governing Body. This reference letter may be brief, as it is only designed as confirmation that the recommended church fulfills the criteria. It is therefore advisable to inform the recommending church of the list of criteria.
- If the Church has its own pastor, then he or she shall principally be prepared to take part in training events offered by the regional Evangelical Churches in Germany. Such training events are planned and executed in co-operation with representatives of churches of diverse language and origin. They serve a dual purpose: Firstly, they are meant to familiarise pastors who serve churches of diverse language and origin, with the position and circumstances of church, society and theology in Germany, and secondly, they facilitate encounters between Christians of diverse culture and origin and help us learn from each other.
2. In practice, a Church's Membership entails the following requirements:
- an awareness that other congregations and churches are partners and part of the one Church of Jesus Christ; that they should not be considered deficient or even anti-Christian groups;
- regular participation in the annual General Assembly of the International Conference of Christian Churches and, if existing, participation in regional conferences. Also required is to maintain regular contact with the departments "Migration and Integration" and "Ecumenical Relations" of the Church Resources Agency (Haus Kirchlicher Dienste) of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover, as well as with the offices of the relevant church districts and superintendents of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover
- the commitment to promote the visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ, e.g. by working together on projects, mutual invitations to events, organising international and ecumenical services as frequently as possible;
- avoiding dissensions and conflicts;
- the conscientious management and transparent administration of finance, in particular by conducting regular, statutory meetings of the members and by the annual presentation of financial reports that are easily comprehensible to third parties;
- participation in training events and courses offered by the Evangelical Church, such as the Study Conference Intercultural Church.
3. The advantages of a Membership in the International Conference of Christian Churches are i.a:
- Participation in the events offered by the network such as the annual General Assembly;
- Opportunity to participate in training events provided by the Evangelical Church, such as the Study Conference Intercultural Church and training events focussing on church services or fundraising;
- Invitations to events offered by the Evangelical Church, its agencies and institutions;
- Reference letters produced by the International Conference for counsellors and ministers visiting hospitals and prisons;
- Letters of recommendation for presentation at the Foreigner's Registration Office, embassies and consulates, in relation to visa applications for visitors from the church members' country of origin and of questions around the right of residence;
- Opportunity to sell church buildings to churches in the International Conference;
- On request and requiring evidence of how funds were used, financial support is available for church projects from a project fund, which is initially supplied by budgetary funds of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover. Long-term, it is expected that the churches of the International Conference of Christian Churches will contribute to this fund according to their financial means.
- Publication of the location of the churches and of the times of their services on the internet via the webpages of the project in the Church Resources Agency (Haus Kirchlicher Dienste) of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover;
- Help with potential administrative and practical problems, with the search for and rental of rooms;
- Applications of members of the churches in the International Conference for employment in the institutions of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover will be welcomed, wherever possible.
- The opportunity, as a guest, to join expert committees within German church communities and church districts of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover.
4. About the Procedure
Every Member Church of the International Conference of Christian Churches appoints one voting delegate to attend the General Assembly. This person is not required to have a ministry. Additional persons are welcome as non-voting guests.
The General Assembly convenes once, annually, at the invitation of the Governing Body. An extraordinary General Assembly can be called at the request of 2/3 of Members.
The work of the International Conference of Christian Churches is undertaken and overseen by a Governing Body, in which representatives of the continents and diverse traditions represented in the Conference play an active part in equal measure.
The Members of the Governing Body are elected by the General Assembly for 3 years of service.
The first Governing Body is composed of Members with the following backgrounds:
- 3 representatives of churches with an African background,
- 3 representatives of churches with an Asian background,
- 1 representative of churches with a Middle-Eastern background,
- 1 representative of churches with a European background,
- 2 representatives of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover as
Members ex officio.
- The Management is affiliated to the Governing Body and has an advisory
The Governing Body meets regularly (approximately once every 3-4 months) for a sitting. It votes one of its Members into the Chair and selects a Deputy Chair.
With a 2/3 majority vote, the Governing Body determines the acceptance of churches into the International Conference of Christian Churches. It also does the preparatory work for General Assemblies.
The Management of the International Conference of Christian Churches is undertaken in consultation with the Governing Body through the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover. The Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover provides the necessary financial means for this.
Three years after the establishment of the International Conference of Christian Churches, an evaluation of the prerequisites, criteria, and requirements is to be undertaken by the Governing Body and Management, as well as a review of the organisational structure and finances.
The above was passed unanimously, on 11th October 2014, in Kloster Loccum by the representatives of the Members of the International Conference of Christian Churches listed below:
- Arabische deutsche evangelische Gemeinde, Hannover (Arabian German Evangelical Church, Hanover)
- Bethesda House of Grace, Osnabrück (Bethesda House of Grace, Osnabrück)
- Christian Hope Ministry-International e.V., Hannover (Christian Hope Ministry-International e.V., Hanover)
- Ev. Koreanische Gemeinde, Göttingen (Evangelical Korean Church, Göttingen)
- Ev. Koreanische Methodistische Saebom-Gemeinde Göttingen e.V. (Evangelical Korean Methodist Saebom Church, Göttingen e.V.)
- House of Glory e.V., Hannover (House of Glory e.V., Hanover)
- Indonesische Perki Gemeinde, Göttingen (Indonesian Perki Church, Göttingen)
- International Gospel Center e.V., Hannover (International Gospel Center e.V., Hanover)
- Multikulturelle Christliche Gemeinde Bethanien e.V., Hannover (Multicultural Christian Church Bethanien e.V., Hanover)
- Ungarischsprachiger Ev.-ref. Seelsorgedienst in Norddeutschland in der Ev.-ref. Kirche, Hannover (Hungarian-Speaking Evangelical-Reformed Counselling Service in Northern Germany within the Evangelical-Reformed Church, Hanover)
- Vietnamesisch-Evangelische Tin-Lanh Gemeinde, Hannover (Vietnamese-Evangelical Tin-Lanh Church, Hanover)
- Evangelisch-lutherische Landeskirche Hannovers (Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover)
Übersetzung: Astrid Quick