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Thursday, 7 Nov 2019

Peace prayer on the day the Wall came down

The House of One, together with the Versöhnungsgemeinde (Reconciliation Congregation) and the Berlin Forum of Religions, commemorated the peaceful revolution in the GDR. Thirteen representatives from nine different faith traditions - Baha'i, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Sufis, Asatru - prayed on Thursday for peace and tolerance. They gathered in the Chapel of Reconciliation, a special place on the former death strip in the middle of Berlin, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The clay walls of the small sacred building erected after the fall of the Wall contain fragments of the old Church of Reconciliation, which stood on the strip of death after the Wall was built and was blown up.


German reunification from different perspectives

Pastor Gregor Hohberg (House of One), himself an East Berliner, grown up in a country that no longer exists, reminded of the role of the churches in the turbulent months of 1989: "Countless people, whether religious or non-religious, gathered in the churches and demanded political changes. The country was vibrating, it was restless. People fled, those who remained worried about their future. "Hohberg, who lived next to the Gethsemanekirche church at that time, which played a special role as a meeting point for opposition members during the turning days. The churches opened their doors to the ever-increasing number of people who longed for change. "Open up and become light" is a song that the theologian remembered from that time. Those who wanted to support the desire for freedom, for a peaceful change, put a candle in the window when people from the churches went out to protest in the streets.

"The movement became bigger, the people more courageous", Hohberg said. And when there were hundreds of thousands, the wall collapsed. "Every time needs people who become light and bright, who stand up for their convictions, who show themselves when others are threatened - Jews because they are Jews, Muslims because they are Muslims, Muslims who are torn down their headscarves - then it is important to encourage each other and to stand up together for peaceful coexistence in our country, in our city.

Jewish life more visible after the fall of the Berlin Wall

Much has changed in the 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Esther Hirsch, born in West Berlin, joins the words. Thus, Jewish life in Berlin has become visible again. In her childhood, for example, it was not an issue whether one wore kippa or not. That had changed. "We have become more visible again," said the cantor. There are Jewish Cultural Days, a Jewish Museum, the Centrum Judaicum and much more.  "I am proud to be a German, to belong to the people that brought about the peaceful revolution," said the cantor. "The women and men have shown courage in tearing down the wall. We should again summon up this courage today in order to preserve our freedom.

Imam Osman Örs appealed to those present to tear down the walls in their heads. "Walls exist among us", said the Muslim, who grew up in Bremen as a child of a religious family and was confronted with his "otherness" at school, but not only there. "Walls are good when they protect us as part of the house. But walls are bad when they have no doors or when they have been built as a barrier."

Church asylum for people on the run

The pastor of the conciliation community, Thomas Jeutner, reminded in his contribution of people who are on the run today and are trying to overcome walls. Jeutner stressed that they must be given protection and read the names of people in church asylum.

The Hinduist Haladhara Thaler, who himself sat 30 years ago on Alexanderplatz with a self-made sign "Singing for Peace", describes the Berlin Forum of Religions as an example of an equal coexistence. "There are no pedestals, no elevations, all religions stand side by side," said Thaler.

In this sense, each of the thirteen faith representatives concluded with a brief prayer in the respective tradition. One after the other, side by side.

The full length of the prayer for peace can be seen on the House of One's Facebook Profile.

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