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Germans encourage flowering of interest in the Bible -12/08/06

More than 40 botanical gardens run by churches and Christian groups throughout Germany are inviting visitors to get to know the 120 flowers, bushes and trees mentioned in the Bible – writes Frauke Brauns for Ecumenical News International.

"We want to attract both Christians and [other] people," Maik Foerster, head of the Christian association that runs the Oberlichtenau garden near Dresden, told Ecumenical News International. The garden has attracted many visitors since it opened in June 2005.

Since the celebration of the ‘Year of the Bible’ in Germany in 2003, church groups have been opening recreational and educational gardens, planted with the flowers, trees and shrubs mentioned in the Bible.

Plants mentioned in the Bible include juniper (1 Kings 19.4), cedar (Psalm 80.10), figs (Judges 9.11), almonds (Ecclesiastes 12.5), hyssop (Leviticus 14.4), pomegranates (Numbers 20.5), mulberries (1 Chronicles 14.14) the Rose-of-Sharon (Song of Solomon 2.1), and vines (Genesis 9.20).

"If you see, smell or hold things mentioned in the Bible for real it is much easier to read the Bible," Foerster said. About two-thirds of the flora can be grown in Germany without any problem, he noted, while the rest have to be put in a greenhouse.

Two-thirds of the gardens are Protestant-run, and the others are tended by Roman Catholic groups or non-denominational Christian associations.

The Bible Centre at the St Johanniskloster in Schleswig says it wants its garden to offer visitors a "holistic" experience of the Bible. "We want to help inform people who are interested in getting to know what is in the Bible whatever links they may have to the church and whatever their own faith," the centre states on its website.

With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.

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