ABSTRACT

The church became politicized in complex and controversial ways. The public appearance of church-based peace and human rights organizations and groups working in solidarity with countries of the global South increased existing tensions. However, despite internal debates, not only did most of the new groups and networks working for peace arise from within the church, but the church also gave support to those that worked outside it. Aware of the threat, the Stasi relentlessly pursued the burgeoning opposition movement. The environmental movement arose from within the church, too. It attracted social dissidents and became increasingly radical. Highly significant was the consultation process culminating in three ecumenical assemblies on the themes of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. It brought all the Christian churches together and gave impetus and guidance for the opposition movement’s programme for change. The conflicts between the groups and the church leadership led to the formation of pressure groups inside the church. Sympathetic church leaders were in a difficult position. However, amidst all the challenges, the church was able to give the groups inspiration, intellectual and practical support, and above all to imbue the opposition movement with a deeply grounded ethic of non-violence.