“Heaven´s Cross” inaugurated at Luthergarten

WITTENBERG, Germany/GENEVA| 15/6/2016
Fascinated by the speech of Andreas Kipar, landscape architect of the Luthergarten, are Martin Junge, LWF General Secretary, President Joachim Gauck, Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, President of the LWF and Norbert Denecke, General Secretary of German National Committee during the unveiling of the Heaven´s Cross in the Luthergarten in Wittenberg, Germany. Photo: LWF/Marko Schoeneberg

German President Joachim Gauck and leaders of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) today inaugurated the sculpture “Heaven´´s Cross” (Himmelskreuz) in the Luthergarten, in Wittenberg.

During the festive event, Gauck, LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge unveiled the artwork which is made from aluminium and stainless steel, and consists of a triple cross construction. The Luthergarten, a living, growing monument to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, is jointly managed by the LWF and the City of Wittenberg.

Three overlapping crosses

Heaven´s Cross, by German artist Thomas Schönauer, consists of three overlapping crosses. The structure is 15 meters long, 11 meters wide and over 4.5 meters high. It is framed on the ground by a heart and grass patch in the shape of five petals. The shape resembles the Luther rose, the seal of Martin Luther. It covers a 40 meter wide central space in the Luthergarten.
The sculpture connects the earth to the trees growing towards heaven, Schönauer explained. It is supposed to increase “personal strength and responsibility to consciously shape a respectful life together and a livable future.”

Lord Mayor of Leipzig Burkhard Jung, representing one of the main sponsors of the artwork, Stiftung Lebendige Stadt (Living City Foundation), concurred. He described the Luthergarten as a green oasis offering “opportunity to move away from daily life for a moment and pointing beyond the human.” Jung said, “The Luthergarten makes the city more alive – in precisely the spirit of the Stiftung Lebendige Stadt. We are pleased to have been able to contribute to creating it.”

LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan underlined the symbolism of the multi-facetted work of art. The shape of the Luther rose “reminds each of us that we are all children of God liberated by God’s grace.” Turning to Gauck, he stated, “We are proud to walk with the president of the Federal Republic of Germany on the road of Reformation.”

LWF German National Committee (GNC/LWF) general secretary Oberkirchenrat Norbert Denecke concluded the ceremony by thanking Schönauer, the City of Wittenberg, sponsors, donors and the construction companies. He paid special tribute to the Aluminium Rheinfelden company, the Stiftung Lebendige Stadt, the Evangelische Bank and the regional Protestant churches for their financial support of the project.

The art installation in the Luther rose completes the Luthergarten along the embankments south of the Castle Church, where Reformer Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses, starting the 16th century movement to reform the church. Since 2009, churches from all denominations have planted 292 trees here “as a sign of solidarity, connectedness and church reconciliation worldwide,” said the landscape architect Dr Andreas Kipar. Tree-planting occurs at two other locations in Wittenberg. The goal is to plant 500 trees in the garden by 2017.

LWF Council members witnessed the unveiling ceremony, which was held after the opening worship of the governance meeting.

The LWF Council meeting is taking place from 15 to 21 June in Wittenberg, Germany. The Council meets once a year and is made up of 49 delegates from the member churches in the seven LWF regions. With both ordained and lay members, it has three categories of delegates: 40 percent women, 40 percent men and 20 percent young adults. The nearly 120 participants at this year’s meeting include invited ecumenical guests and other LWF member church representatives, as well as staff from the Communion Office.

Zentrum Luthergarten

Next plantings:

March 11 Ev. Luth. Church in Sierra Leone
March 16 Lutheran Campus Ministry in Clemson, South Carolina, USA
June 16 Church congregations Twelf Apostles in Sarstedt rural and in Liebertwolkwitz, Germany
June 23 Immanuel Luth. Church in Bellevue, Nebraska, USA6
  Further tree plantings are presumably possible from the end of August 2018 onwards. There are only a few trees available. Please register your interest now.

Luthergarten Schlosskirche

Each euro allows the Luthergarten to grow!

It is not possible for all churches to raise the entire amount for the tree planting. But we do not want to exclude any church, particularly in this worldwide and ecumenical project. With your donation, you can help these churches to participate in the unique project Luthergarten.

Bank details:
Account holder: VELKD/LWB-Zentrum Wittenberg
IBAN: DE75 8006 3598 0000 4556 87
Bank:   Volksbank Wittenberg eG
            Collegienstraße 12
            06886 Lutherstadt
Purpose: tree planting WB + your name and address