Editorially responsible for these answers: Frank Hörtreiter, Public Relations Officer of the Christian Community
Is The Christian Community connected to any other church or religious movement?
No. The Christian Community is a completely independent Christian movement. It was founded as a new impulse within Christianity. The founders were, in some cases, formerly active as ministers in other churches - notably the German Lutheran church - whilst others were theological students. The Christian Community's unique approach to church life and practice came through the willing help and advice given through Rudolf Steiner. The original priestly ordination was received by Friedrich Rittelmeyer who then enabled others to be ordained into the priesthood of The Christian Community. Priestly empowerment was received 'vertically' rather than through any established historical apostolic succession.
What is the attitude towards women in The Christian Community?
There is no particular attitude towards women in The Christian Community. From the start of the movement, women were ordained and active as priests just as men were. Leadership roles within the movement are occupied by women in the same way as men occupy such positions.
How is The Christian Community financed? Are priests paid or voluntary workers?
As far as possible priests are financially supported so that they can devote their time to priestly work without having to be employed elsewhere. Their personal needs and the needs of their families are considered along with the material resources necessary for them to carry out their work. The funds needed for all of this must come from the freely given financial contributions of the individuals and families who value what they receive from The Christian Community and its priests. Capital items such as church buildings are normally financed through specific fundraising projects, bequests, loans and large gifts. However, the cost of maintaining capital items is met through the regular financial contributions of individuals and families.
Does The Christian Community believe in the Bible?
The Christian Community does not have any beliefs. Individuals within The Christian Community have beliefs, and they hold these beliefs freely as convictions born out of their own experience. In other words, there is no dogma within The Christian Community - knowledge, belief, and understanding is the responsibility of each individual. The Bible - especially the New Testament, plays a central part in the sacraments of The Christian Community and within its ongoing life as expressed in Gospel study groups, sermons, lectures, publications and private study. Many of its priests have a working knowledge of New Testament Greek, and in a few cases, Old Testament Hebrew.
If there is no dogma or particular teaching in The Christian Community, what does The Christian Community stand for? Where does it stand on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and so on?
Again - these are questions for individuals. The Christian Community is made up of individuals, whether they are ordained priests or lay members of The Christian Community. As writer of this response I can answer: "Whether the issue is abortion or homosexuality, I make no judgement of what another human being does, for it is their responsibility. I am responsible for my own deeds, just as any one else is responsible for theirs. If, for instance, the issue has to do with someone being harmed by a hetero- or homosexual act, then if it is something that I am called to do something about, I will set about addressing the harm that has been done and seek a way to heal that harm." Another individual, priest or lay person, within The Christian Community may have another stance on such things. That is their responsibility and free choice.
Are priests in The Christian Community free to change the way in which they hold the services? Can they change the words in the rituals?
No they are not free to do this. They are free to teach from their individual responsibility by way of sermon, lecture or writing so long as they do not contradict the intention of the sacraments as expressed in the form and content of the sacramental rituals. The ritual forms, prescriptions and content were given out of an insight and inspiration that went beyond the design or intention of any human individual. The validity of these rituals flows from a source beyond the reach of normal human capacity. This is the understanding and experience of those who know them. Thus no individual or group of individuals is in a position to make such changes. Where doubt has existed concerning any aspect of the original intended prescription, such doubt may be resolved by a group of priests working thoroughly through the doubt, in consultation with their wider circle of colleagues. Occasionally changes in ritual wording occur insofar as this relates to a translation from the original German into some other language. Even the smallest rendering of a translated word is worked through over a long period of time by a group of individual priests as they endeavour to fine-tune the accuracy and appropriateness of the original translation.
What is the Christian Community doing against sexual abuse?
There is a contact point of the Christian Community for questions of abuse to which people of all ages may turn.
(Here you find your contact person)
This contact point has been set up by the leadership of the Christian Community, but it is completely autonomously active. Everything which has been disclosed is treated confidentially if the involved person hasn't discharged his conversation counterpart of his pledge of secrecy. For its holiday camps for children and for teenagers the Association of Social Issues (Verband der Sozialwerke) of the Christian Community has developed a concept of prevention, which is mentioned in its leaflets and its pieces of information on its website.
Author: Kevin Coffey, New Zealand