Colorful prayer community in the mountains

Colorful prayer community in the mountains

Representatives of six different faiths will meet this weekend in Oberstdorf, southern Bavaria, for a "Summit Dialogue of World Religions". A specific worldview group was not invited.

No, "Obadoba" is not a formula for meditation from the Far East, even if it would fit thematically. "Obadoba" is Allgauerisch and means something like "at the top, up to the top". This is exactly where representatives of six faiths will soon go: They will come together on Friday and Saturday under the title "Obadoba – Summit Dialogue of World Religions" in the southern Bavarian town of Oberstdorf and at the nearby mid-station of the Fellhorn cable car.

Catholic and Protestant pastors are present, as well as a Muslim imam and a Buddhist abbot, and members of Judaism, Hinduism and Bahai.

The idea comes from Michael Lucke and Stefan Topp, both managing directors from the Allgau region of Germany. Topp explains, "I believe that we humans urgently need to put our dealings with each other and with nature on a different basis." For this, he said, religions are central.

Confronting prejudices and fears

The "divisive elements that are often in the foreground in the public perception, as well as prejudices and fears" are to be countered with "Obadoba", he said. He grew up Christian, says Topp. "Studying other religions helped me to better understand the teachings of Christ as well as to appreciate the enriching differences as well as the supporting common levels."

Lucke adds that he has long attended the "very atmospheric" thanksgiving services in the mountains. That's how he got the idea that it would be a nice idea to open "this wide place" to other religions as well. The mountains are super suitable for this, says the Protestant. "There you come closer to heaven than anywhere else."

As an expert the initiators won Martin Rotting. Rotting is chairman of the board of the Institute Occurso for interreligious and intercultural encounter in Freising and teaches at the University of Salzburg and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich on the subject of religion. He says: "'Obadoba' invites to a social learning process through the encounter of religions."This allows a partnership in cultural and religious diversity, which creates a basis for coexistence. As a Catholic, he refers to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) to meet other religions with respect and interest.

Prayers at high altitude

Plans now call for a program open to interested parties on 13. and 14. July. On the first day, a symposium will be held in the Protestant community center in Oberstdorf – with lectures on topics such as "Religion and spirituality: cement or wedge of society?" and workshops on yoga and wholesome singing.

On the second day, the religious representatives read at the middle station of the Fellhorn cable car in about 1.700 meters above sea level recited texts, blessings and prayers from their holy scriptures. As a symbol of solidarity, participants should label, tie and hang colorful ribbons together at the end.

Also the well-known Catholic monk Notker Wolf comes to "Obadoba". The former abbot primate of the Benedictine order takes part in a talk on enlightenment before the main program in front of a closed audience. Wolf says the "Obadoba" participants wanted to work out commonalities and unifying elements of the different faiths.

"This summit dialogue is a mosaic stone for the construction of a living together in peace and common respect."Living together makes one humble and makes it possible to know and respect the world of the other.

One community was not invited

But how was actually selected, which life worlds come together at "Obadoba? Co-organizer Rotting responds that they took the "usual suspects" of religions spread around the world. The Diamond Way Buddhism, however, was deliberately not officially invited.

This community runs an international center in the Allgau; its leader attracted attention in 2018 with Islamophobic slogans. This has not been worked through to date, says Rotting. "Individual followers are welcome, however."

With 1.000 to 3.000 participants are expected at the "Obadoba" premiere. Whether the project will be continued after that is still unclear.

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