German church declaration rejecting Nazi policy remains inspiration, WCC general secretary says

Posted Jun 3, 2024

[World Council of Churches] On the 90th anniversary of the Barmen Declaration, in which members of Germany’s Confessing Church condemned Nazi incursions in church life, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches has praised it for helping Christians since then combat oppression and injustice.

“The Barmen Declaration has served as an inspiration to Christians facing tyranny, injustice, and discrimination of the need for the church to reject the claims of oppressive regimes and to combat heretical tendencies within its own ranks,” the Rev. Jerry Pillay said in a message to the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).

The declaration was issued on the last day of a synod May 29–31, 1934, which met in Barmen, a district of the city of Wuppertal in the Rhineland. It was an appeal to Protestants to reject the policies of the so-called “German Christians” who supported National Socialism and its policies in church life. 

Pillay, who comes from South Africa, recalled how in his country the Barmen Declaration helped inspire the theological resistance to apartheid.

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