The City of Worms, the Protestant Church of Hesse and Nassau and the Protestant Deanery of Worms-Wonnegau have organised the 'Worms Religious Colloquy' since 2013. These events were occasioned by the Luther Decade's theme of 'Reformation and Tolerance', which started on 31 October 2012 in Worms. In doing so, the organisers tipped their hat to the three Religious Colloquies that took place in Worms in the mid-16th century.
In the first Religious Colloquy in 1541, Martin Bucer, a reformer from the Alsace region, and Johannes Gropper, Canon of Cologne, penned dogmatic articles collected in the 'Book of Worms' in an attempt to reach a consensus.
Seeking again to find common ground after the Peace of Augsburg, Gropper and Philipp Melanchthon, a reformer from Wittenberg and intimate of Luther, met for the second Worms Colloquy in 1557. Both of these attempts failed.
A Religious Colloquy took place the same year in Pfeddersheim, a part of Worms, between representatives of the Lutheran Electoral Palatinate and Anabaptists. Again they failed to agree.
From then on, Anabaptists in Electoral Palatinate were subjected to persecution. Indeed they were not tolerated until after the 30 Years' War when Anabaptists from Switzerland were relocated here, also in the districts of Worms, to help reconstruct the devastated country. Catholics were guaranteed their rights in Lutheran Worms due to its status as an Imperial City. A reformed church had existed in Worms since 1644.
There has been a Jewish congregation in Worms since the 10th century, interrupted repeatedly by persecution and expulsion. It took some time for the community to reform after 1945 and the National Socialist genocide of the Jews, and then it was affiliated with the congregation in Mainz. A number of faiths have emerged in the Muslim congregations of Worms, especially since the recruitment of Turkish workers from 1961 onward. The Intercultural Round Table has organised the 'Festival of Cultures' and other events since 2003.
The first 'Religious Colloquy' of the 21st century took place from 19 to 21 April, entitled 'Tolerance or Understanding'. The dates were selected with a nod to Luther's refusal to recant his writings on 18 April 1521 in Worms. Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag, gave the opening address at the Conference Centre in Worms. Cardinal Lehmann, Bishop of Mainz, Bishop Friedrich Weber from Braunschweig, head of the Protestant Church in Lower Saxony, the Münster-based Islamic scholar Huhannad Khorchide, Elisa Klappheck, Rabbi in Frankfurt, and the philosopher Rainer Forst from Frankfurt, took to the stage to discuss the meaning of tolerance.
Peter Steinacker, former President of the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau, opened the debate. The Day of Study and Community organised by the Protestant Deanery of Worms-Wonnegau started with a church service in the Trinity Church (sermon: Church President Dr Volker Jung) and a 'prayer of the religions'. Among other things, the workshops investigated the issues of Islamic religious education, the Worms Religious Colloquies of the 16th century, Luther's stance on Jews and open theology in an open society. A concert by 'capella lutherana' presented early 16th-century maxims, printed by Peter Schöffer in Worms and Strasbourg.
The second Worms Religious Colloquy in 2016 took as its topic 'The Freedom of Conscience in a Common World'. Gerhard Robbers, Reformation Commissary of the State Government of Rhineland-Palatinate, opened the event in the Worms Conference Centre with a speech on the freedom of conscience within pluralism. The participants in the podium discussions were the philosopher Jacob Emmanuel Mabe from Berlin, the Islamic scholar Nayla Tabbara from Beirut, Debbie Weissmann, educationalist from Jerusalem, and the former EKD Council President, Nikolaus Schneider.
The Day of Study and Community organised by the Protestant Deanery of Worms-Wonnegau featured workshops with guests from Lebanon, Cameroon, the Czech Republic, Italy and Germany. A tourist railway took visitors to the 'Places of Conscience' around the city. A church service in Trinity Church (sermon: Church President Dr Volker Jung), a soirée of short films, two exhibitions and a concert with interpretations of the Psalms by a Jewish-Christian-Muslim choir project from Frankfurt rounded off the event.