While art and music have always been an important aspect of clerical life, the Church itself always forms part of contemporary culture. Dialogue is an integral part of the Church’s existence, and so is the necessity to understand the symbols and the expressions of culture surrounding the Church. Entering into dialogue with artists helps the Church witness traces of God’s presence on earth. As art also reflects on God, faith and religion, it stimulates the Church into critical reflection and broadens its world view by way of language, images and metaphors expressed in architecture, painting, literature and music.
A prominent example of the EKBO’s role in the arts is St. Mathews foundation in Berlin. Its purpose is to foster dialogue between the Church and the arts. Next to conducting worship, the foundation organizes art exhibitions and readings, and offers organ recitals and concerts in the city church of St Matthew’s, which is open daily. Under the auspices of the EKBO the “Art Auction for the Benefit of Immigrants and Refugees” is organized annually. Proceeds from this important fundraising event support about 20 projects in this area, as well as the Church construction Office, which deals with all construction measures on buildings within the territory of the EKBO.
Music plays a pivotal role in congregational life. Protestant church life draws on a wide range of music, ranging from the traditional repertoire of liturgy and hymns accompanied by choir or organ to brass bands, gospel, pop, meditative and avant-garde music.
175 full-time choirmasters and organists trained as A- or B- class church musicians shape musical life in EKBO congregations. They are joined by many a part-time or voluntary choirmaster or organist. The backbone, however, of musical life in EKBO churches and congregations is represented by the 21.000 choir members, who sing in one or more of the 950 church choirs in Berlin, Brandenburg and Silesian Upper Lusatia. In addition, about 3.300 brass band players and a further 2.900 players of other instruments rehearse their music in circles and orchestras throughout the EKBO. Music is crucial to enhancing church services and being able to offer sacred music events beyond regular congregational life. Annually more than 600.000 people attend musical events in churches throughout Berlin, Brandenburg and Silesian Upper Lusatia.