A short history of the Liverpool-Cologne churches’ link

This short history is offered particularly for the benefit of those who may be new to the partnership, and summarises events which have taken place and contacts which have been made over the years, but it is by no means complete and there may well be other links and additional events which are not recorded here.  It is worth beginning by noting that there are records in the archives of Liverpool Cathedral of a visit by 70 people from Cologne Cathedral to study the work of the Cathedral in Liverpool in 1908!

Up to 30 ministers and lay church workers from Cologne paid a visit to Liverpool to consider the lessons to be learned from the report ‘Faith in the City’, staying at the Rufford Centre and taking part in an extensive programme arranged by Hilary Russell.  Martin Hunneker, Hans-Georg Link and Marten Marquardt (formerly minister of the German Church in Liverpool) were among those taking part.

A reciprocal visit to Cologne of ministers and lay people, consisting of 32 people from various churches, took place, with visits to Altenberg and the Melanchthon Academy and a civic reception at the Rathaus particularly significant,  leading to a revival of the civic link between the two cities through a subsequent visit of the Lord Mayor of Liverpool to Cologne (Neil Humphreys was particularly instrumental in this).  There was much informal discussion about future developments, especially the setting up of Local Covenants in Cologne (the first of which was inaugurated in 1995), and further contacts between those responsible for similar tasks in their respective churches.

By this time, there were at least two local church links, partnerships having been developed at Mossley Hill and at Speke under the leadership of Michael Plunkett (rector of St. Aidan’s, Speke) who had established a link with Chorweiler, a district of Cologne containing the Ford motor plant.

I believe that visits took place to Cologne by some involved in youth, social and community work in Liverpool churches, but I have no record of this.

Hans-Georg Link was invited to Liverpool to represent the Cologne churches at the services commemorating the 50th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War in Europe.  He led the intercessions at the ‘official’ service in Liverpool Cathedral, and preached at an ‘unofficial’ ecumenical service at the Metropolitan Cathedral the same afternoon.

Link groups were set up in Liverpool and in Cologne to revive the partnership and to explore ways of working together.

Liverpool church leaders and other representatives attended two events in Cologne in May.  The first was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the partnership between the two cities and included a celebratory church service at Antoniterkirche, followed by an Ascension Day service at which the preacher was John Taylor (chairman of Liverpool Methodist District).

The second event was to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Protestant churches in Cologne, and included a church service at which Graham Cook (moderator of the URC Mersey Synod) preached.

An extensive programme was arranged for a visit to Liverpool in July by civic leaders as well as church representatives from Cologne, including presentation of a play at St. George’s Hall by pupils of St. Edward’s College, a reception laid on by ‘Hope at Everton’, and an invitation to the reception for the Queen at the Town Hall, where Hans-Georg Link represented the group from the Cologne churches.  The programme included an open discussion with Liverpool church leaders hosted by Bishop James Jones and a planning meeting between people from the two cities to discuss the future development of the partnership.

A group of young people from Speke, under the leadership of Michael Plunkett, helped German young people to lead a summer play scheme for children in Hoviland in Cologne, travelling overland by minibus. For most of them, this was their first experience of being out of England.

There were participants from Cologne in the international conference of the Anglican Lutheran Society held at Liverpool Cathedral in September.

Several members of the Liverpool group attended the Kirchentag in Berlin and were able to arrange a meeting with representatives from Cologne during the course of that event.

Three students from Cologne participated in the Festival of the Three Kings, consisting of a parade from Pier Head and a service in Liverpool Cathedral, attended by children from Liverpool schools.

The Girls Choir from Cologne Cathedral visited Liverpool, gave concerts at both cathedrals, and attended a reception at the Town Hall in April.

Dean Rupert Hoare attended the 10th Anniversary of the Cologne Okumentag and preached at a service in a Roman Catholic Church as part of the celebrations, which were attended by some Muslim young people.

The cross given by the Pope to mark World Youth Day in Cologne was brought to an ecumenical celebration for young people at the Church of Christ the King, Childwall, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January.

There were participants from Cologne in the international conference of the European Association for Adult Education held in Liverpool in June.

Liverpool Cathedral Centenary celebrations included a concert by the Cologne Oratorien Choir in the cathedral in July.

An international seminar on the theme of wealth and poverty was held in Liverpool in July, with participation from the Cologne churches.

A large group from Cologne attended the Liverpool Cathedral centenary service and associated events in July, and a series of events were arranged over a period of several days.

A group from Liverpool took part in a service at Antoniterkirche in Cologne to mark the retirement of Hans-Georg Link in July.  The farewell meeting following the service was chaired by Dean Rupert Hoare.

The art installation ‘Belonging and Beyond’, a joint work by Liverpool and Cologne artists, was on display in Liverpool Cathedral before being displayed in Cologne and then later at the Metropolitan Cathedral.

A visit to Liverpool by altar servers from Cologne Cathedral took place in October.

Liverpool Cathedral Choir visited Cologne for concerts in Altenberg and St. Maria im Kapitol and to participate in High Mass at Cologne Cathedral in October.

Stephen Pritchard and a small group of youth leaders visited Cologne in October to prepare for the World Youth Day celebrations in May 2005.

Barbara Glasson obtained funding for a travel grant to study homelessness projects and to set up an internet site to train adult learners in conjunction with the Melanchthon Akademie in Cologne, involving a social outreach project in Istanbul.  Visitors from the other two cities came to Liverpool in June.

There were representatives from Cologne Cathedral among the participants in the North European Cathedrals Conference held in Liverpool in January.

The 60th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War in Europe in May and ‘Europe Day’ were marked in Cologne by events in which a group from Liverpool, together with representatives from Cologne’s other twin cities, took part, including Philip Lodge to talk about the proposed Peace Centre and a group of young people led by Stephen Pritchard.

49 pilgrims from Liverpool took part in World Youth Day in May, staying as guests of a parish in Trier as well as in Cologne, and attending a vigil and morning Mass with one million young people presided over by Pope Benedict.  The group was led by Stephen Pritchard, and this and the event in May led to continuing links between young people in the two cities.

The Liverpool commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War took place in July, and visitors from Cologne included a group of young people as well as ‘older’ church representatives.  Events included the official anniversary service at Liverpool Cathedral and a Sea Sunday service at the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Two Cologne artists visited Liverpool to discuss future events for the Capital of Culture year in 2008. 

A school partnership was established between a primary school in Porz Gremberghoven and one in Springwood, Liverpool.  (It is believed that further links have also been established involving Calderstones School and St. Edward’s College).

‘Belonging and Beyond’ successfully exhibited at the Metropolitan Cathedral in October.

Visit to Liverpool in January of a group of post-graduate students of various nationalities and from a variety of church traditions from the University Parish in Cologne.

Festival of the Three Kings held at Epiphany in the Metropolitan Cathedral, with participation by children from Cologne as well as from Liverpool schools.

Cologne Council of Religions held its inaugural meeting in May, and greetings were sent from the Council of Faiths in Liverpool.

Andreas Meisner, organist at Altenberg Cathedral, gave a concert at Liverpool Cathedral in May.

Liverpool Cathedral Girls Choir visited Cologne in June, and gave concerts at various venues as well as a joint concert with the girls choir of Cologne Cathedral.

First of the regular annual joint planning meetings of representatives from the two link groups held in Cologne in September.

Twelve visitors from Cologne attended the events in Liverpool Cathedral to mark the retirement of Dean Rupert Hoare, including a theological dinner and a public debate on the future of Liverpool’s economy.

Visit of John Smith to Cologne representing the Merseyside Council of Faiths, to participate in discussions with the newly formed Council of Religions in Cologne.

Visit of Rainer Will and Raphael Seitz to Liverpool in May to discuss future events and the possibility of major art installations in Liverpool at the cathedrals and/or as part of the Capital of Culture year in 2008.

31st Protestant Kirchentag in Cologne in June attended by 150,000, including a group of 21 people from in and around Liverpool, hospitality for them being provided by Hoffnungskirche in Porz.  The members of the group participated in special events at the Domforum, the Ecumenical Bridge Walk at which John Bradbury was one of the speakers, and the Meissen Eucharist at All Saints.

Bishop James Jones visited Cologne at the same time as the Kirchentag, attending one of the opening service and speaking in the Domforum on ‘Protecting the Creation’.  He also had a meeting with Cardinal Meisner.

Three representatives from the Cologne churches attended Liverpool’s 800th Anniversary celebrations as guests of the city council, including the celebration service in Liverpool Parish Church as well as civic events as guests of the Lord Mayor.  An informal meeting was also held at Liverpool Parish Church with Steven Brookes to discuss possible future links between the church and Antoniterkirche and the Domforum in Cologne city centre.

Second annual joint planning meeting held in September in Liverpool, with five participants from the Cologne link group.  In addition to future planning, time was spent considering interfaith issues in the two cities, with visits to the Sikh Gurdwara and the Mosque, and a seminar on the theology of interfaith dialogue led by Archbishop Patrick Kelly.  The Cologne group made a presentation to Martyn Newman following the service in the Metropolitan Cathedral to mark his retirement. 

Three representatives from Liverpool - Howard Sharp (URC Moderator), Phil Jump (Regional Baptist minister) and Alison Micklem - attended the Reformation Day events in Cologne in October, as well as an ecumenical theological seminar on the recently published book ‘Jesus’ by the Pope.

Festival of the Three Kings held at the Metropolitan Cathedral, as in 2006, with participation by the ‘kings’ and a star bearer from Cologne, and a party of ten in all from Cologne, including Dean Johannes Bastgen, who all took part in the celebrations to mark the beginnings of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year.  Informal meetings were arranged with Bishop James Jones and Dean Justin Welby.

The ‘Day for Europe’ in Cologne was presented as a Liverpool day.  Stephen Pritchard took a small group of young people to take part, as well as a  4-piece band ‘The X Men’ who played a part in the rock concert in the Cathedral in the evening, and their contribution was well received.

The Two Cathedrals Service took place in Liverpool at Pentecost and included Cologne participation for the first time.  Hans-Georg Link read one of the lessons.  The event included the unveiling of the memorial to Archbishop Derek Worlock and Bishop David Sheppard in Hope Street.

Benjamin Britten’s ’War Requiem’ performed at Altenberg Cathedral, Cologne Cathedral and Liverpool Cathedral in June, with choirs from both cities and from the cathedrals in Cologne and Liverpool taking part.  Canon Myles Davies accompanied the Liverpool party to Cologne and Rainer Will and Hans-Georg Link were among those who came to Liverpool for the event.  At the same time, an art exhibition by Hans Rungeler was opened in the lady chapel of Liverpool Cathedral.

The third annual joint planning meeting took place in Cologne in September, and it included the 11th Ecumenical Day.  The theme of the consultation was ‘the Church in the City’, and the Liverpool group included Graham Cook to talk about ’Faithful Cities’ and Barbara Glasson to talk about ‘Somewhere Else’.

Reformation Day and a conference on ‘Holy Spirit and Justice’ were held in Cologne at the end of October, and the Liverpool participants included Dean Justin Welby.

Steven Brookes, Rector of Liverpool Parish Church, visited Cologne in January with a view to setting up a partnership between his church and Antoniterkirche.

An art installation by Raphael Seitz was opened in the grounds of Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral.

Seven people from Liverpool in all were present at the Kirchentag in Bremen in May and a meeting was arranged with those members of the link group from Cologne who attended this event.

Thomas Franken represented the Cologne churches at the ordination Ian Gallagher, a member of the Liverpool link group, at Liverpool Cathedral in June.

Ian Smith and Elisabeth Hachmoeller from Liverpool took part in the conference on local ecumenical partnerships in Cologne in June.

The fourth annual joint consultation between the two links groups took place in Liverpool in July, with five members of the Cologne group present.  The programme was urban ministry and the involvement of the church in social and community work and included visits to projects in Clubmoor, Warrington, Kensington and Walton and to the Crossroads centre in Crosby.

Further events planned for 2009 are the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War in September, a visit by the choir of Liverpool Parish Church to Antoniterkirche in November for the All Saints festival, and an interfaith day in Cologne also in November.


This history will be updated from time to time.


Bob Andrews

September 2009