100,000 people at 2,000 individual events: For the first time since 1979, Nuremberg will once again host the German Protestant Church Congress ("Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag") from June 7 to 11, 2023. For five days, the city will be on its feet. How can an event of this magnitude be organized?
Nuremberg's Lord Mayor Marcus König is already eagerly anticipating the Kirchentag: "The anticipation is great, for the events, the church services, the debates - but above all for the people visiting our city." Janine Rolfsmeyer's pulse is also higher than usual: "We're in the middle of the final spurt." She is responsible for the entire organizational area on the DEKT board and has already been in close exchange with the city of Nuremberg, the Free State of Bavaria and the Evangelical Lutheran Church since 2018.
Mrs. Rolfsmeyer, what can Nuremberg expect from the Protestant Kirchentag and what does organizing such an event entail?
We are looking forward to 100,000 people who want to celebrate, discuss and tackle issues together. 2,000 individual events are planned - from small workshops to large concerts, everything is included. We can count on the great support of the Lord Mayor, the city administration, the police and regional organizations and institutions.
The organization of a Kirchentag begins many years before it actually takes place. We are already in the planning stages for 2025 and 2027, but our current focus is of course on Nuremberg 2023. Around 100 people are now employed by the Kirchentag. They organize, for example, the program, financing, security concept, shared accommodations for the participants and everything else that is needed for a major event. In addition, there are around 5,000 volunteers who will be helping out at the Kirchentag and whose efforts have to be coordinated.
Since the beginning of January, the first event posters have been hanging in the city, which of course motivates us immensely. From March 16, the complete Kirchentag program will be available at kirchentag.de/en/programme.
Where do you accommodate 2,000 meetings, discussions, celebrations, cultural events in a city like Nuremberg?
At 120 venues, mainly in Nuremberg's city center, in the Nuremberg Exhibition Center at NürnbergMesse and in Fürth. It will be a colorful mix of panel discussions with prominent guests, large and small cultural events, joint outdoor church services on the Hauptmarkt and Kornmarkt and much, much more. I can already reveal one prominent contributor at this point: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
What highlight are you particularly looking forward to?
A special highlight will certainly be the Evening of Encounters on Wednesday, June 7, after the opening of the Kirchentag in Nuremberg's Old Town. Here, around 140 associations, congregations and initiatives from all over Bavaria will present themselves with their own stands and thus show the great diversity of our host state.
What is planned at the Kirchentag in the exhibition center?
From Thursday to Saturday, we will be using the NürnbergMesse grounds in a variety of ways. Bible studies, panel discussions and concerts, among other things, will take place in the Frankenhalle and in various other halls, which will be furnished with the classic Kirchentag cardboard stools. More than 500 booths of charitable initiatives, groups and organizations from church and society will present themselves at the market of opportunities.
The Kirchentag has also constantly changed and often repositioned itself - what does it mean in the current challenging times?
Change is the right keyword. In our society, an incredible amount is changing all at once - that worries a lot of people. Discussions are taking on a sharper tone, the rifts between one another seem insurmountable. The Kirchentag is a place where we can come together again. Here we can experience fellowship and gladly discuss, even argue controversially about the challenges of our time - but respectfully and with the knowledge that we are all looking for the best solutions for the future. Our Kirchentag slogan - "Now is the time" - is more relevant than ever in the face of war, concerns about energy security and climate catastrophe.
Thank you very much for the interview!