Témoigner Ensemble à Genève
Witnessing Together in Geneva
The movement Witnessing Together in Geneva (Témoigner Ensemble à Genève) brings together about seventy church communities established in Geneva. It has the aim of weaving links between established and recently- formed communities by celebrating together and showing a community of churches living with their diversity as a source of enrichment. The activities of Witnessing Together in Geneva are open to all.
Every two years, Jeûne Genevois (Geneva Fast) is an occasion for a time of sharing and learning organized at the Ecumenical Center. At the end of the day the participants join in a procession to the church of St. Gervais to meet together in a protestant worship service at 6 p.m.
The alternate years, Witnessing Together organises a day of meeting and training on a particular theme of relevance to the church communities, such as health, migration and undocumented workers.
Worship services unite the communities who share the same place of worship, or join together in local activities. These enable each to discover another way of celebrating their faith and to offer a form of worship that can be both very colorful and lively.
Regular meetings are held about six to ten times a year at the International Reformed Centre John Knox (CIRJK) to bring together delegates from the different communities and churches to discuss questions relating to youth, invitations between communities, the search for church facilities, welcoming migrants, witnessing, etc.
There are many occasions to open up to another way of celebrating one’s faith. It is worth emphasising the role that Witnessing Together plays in integrating these different communities. In a city which is made up of a large proportion of foreigners, these communities play a central role in combating solitude, while offering support and useful contacts. That is true for employees in international companies and organizations, but also for asylum seekers and workers in the domestic sector.
Witnessing Together was created by Mr Lukas Vischer, who was at that time responsible for the programs of the CIRJK and functions as a program of the Center, which provides financial and logistical support. The Protestant Church of Geneva and the World Council of Churches have become major partners, contributing also in a substantial manner to the activities of Witnessing Together
Churches which have their origin in the migrant community have existed discreetly since the first moments of the reformation. Still somewhat out of sight, they have grown by an order of magnitude in recent decades, bringing
together sometimes hundreds of people from the most varied origins and walks of life. Their number has grown to such a point that they now hold a significant place in Geneva Protestantism. This evolution is not restricted to Geneva. The Federation of Protestant Churches of Switzerland accounted for forty communities in Switzerland twenty years ago but are estimated to number three hundred today (2017).
Recognizing these developments, Lukas Vischer sought out these communities in Geneva and worked to weave links between them. After numerous exchanges, the first common celebration took place in 2003 in the cathedral of St Pierre in Geneva. Another service was organized at the season of Pentecost in 2007 to celebrate the anniversary of the Reformation in Geneva. This was based on the theme “Christ, source of peace” demonstrating clearly the multicolored and multicultural face of Protestantism in Geneva.
Today Witnessing Together in Geneva is made up of communities of every geographical origin, of all the protestant leanings plus several orthodox churches. It includes the so-called “historical churches” such as the Evangelical Protestant Church, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Anglican Church, the Lutheran Church and even some non-religious bodies.
From 2010 to 2014, two retired pastors, Revs Roswitha Golder and Olivier Labarthe, co-ordinated Witnessing Together activities through personal contacts, regular meetings and days of reflection.
Since 2014, the Protestant Church of Genève has designated one of its pastors, Rev. Gabriel Amisi, to coordinate the Witnessing Together movement on a part-time basis. He is assisted by a ministerial team of six people from different denominations.
Witnessing Together continues to give life and warmth to the international community of Geneva, with its diverse and colorful nature, by enabling Christians to meet and witness together.
Geneva, 21th May, 2017