St. Ottilien 2019

Buddhist-Christian Encounter –

A Visionary Approach

A Conference inspired by Lynn A. de Silva (1919-1982)

In Cooperation with the WCC

St. Ottilien / Munich (26 June – 1 July 2019)

Since the 1960s Buddhists and Christians have entered into serious dialogical relations in various places around the world. At this conference we will inquire into the transformation triggered by dialogical encounter. The selection of topics is inspired by the work of Lynn A de Silva (1919-1982). De Silva, a Sri Lankan Methodist minister and academic, was a major pioneer in Buddhist-Christian dialogue. On the occasion of his centenary we will pick up his visionary approach and ask: How far has dialogue transformed Buddhist and Christian reciprocal understanding? What has been achieved? And what might be the next steps to be taken?

In each session, the first presentation will include an examination of Lynn de Silva’s thinking on the topic concerned. The second will examine the present state of Buddhist-Christian dialogue on the topic and future possibilities.

Online Registration here.

Call for Papers

Welcome Letter by Dr Elizabeth Harris, President of the ENBCS, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion, University of Birmingham

August 2018.


Thursday, 27 June 2019


18.30 – 19.30: Supper

19.45 – 20.00: Opening of the Conference

20.00 – 21.00: Lynn de Silva – An Appraisal (Wesley Ariarajah; Response: Peniel Rajkumar).

Friday, 28 June 2019

07.15 – 07.45: Meditation

07.45 – 08.45: Breakfast

Session I: May Dialogue Change our Self-Understanding and View of the Religious Other?

09.00 – 09.45: First Presentation (Perry Schmidt-Leukel)

09.45 – 10.30: Second Presentation (James Fredericks)

10.30 – 11.00: Coffee Break

11.00 – 12.00: Discussion

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch

Session II: May Dialogue Change Our Understanding of the Human Being?

15.00 – 15.45: First Presentation (Amos Yong)

15.45 – 16.15: Coffee Break

16.15 – 17.00: Second Presentation (Kurt Krammer)

17.00 – 18.00: Discussion

18.30 – 19.30: Supper

Session III: May Dialogue Change Our Understanding of Death and Life After Death?

19.45 – 21.00: First and Second Presentation (Martin Repp; Elke Hessel)

21.00 – 21.30: Discussion

Saturday, 29 June 2019

07.15 – 07.45: Meditation

07.45 – 08.45: Breakfast

Session IV: May Dialogue Change Our Understanding of Ultimate Reality?

09.00 – 09.45: First Presentation (Elizabeth Harris)

09.45 – 10.30: Second Presentation (André van der Braak)

10.30 – 11.00: Coffee Break

11.00 – 12.00: Discussion

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch

Session V: May Dialogue Change Our Understanding of the Buddha and the Christ?

15.00 – 15.45: First Presentation (Joseph O’Leary)

15.45 – 16.15: Coffee Break

16.15 – 17.00: Second Presentation (Annewieke Vroom)

17.00 – 18.00: Discussion

18.30 – 19.30: Supper

19.45 – 21.15: Open Presentations (1)

Sunday, 30 June 2019

07.15 – 07.45: Meditation

07.45 – 08.45: Breakfast

Session VI: May Art Inspire Dialogue – May Dialogue Inspire Art?

09.00 – 09.45: First Presentation (Gudrun Löwner)

09.45 – 10.30: Second Presentation (Jude Lal Fernando; Rasika Pieris)

10.30 – 11.00: Coffee Break

11.00 – 12.00: Discussion

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch

Session VII: May Popular Religion Alter the Course of Dialogue?

15.00 – 15.45: Presentation (Andreas Nehring)

15.45 – 16.15: Coffee Break

16.15 – 17.00: Discussion

Concluding Session

17.00 – 18.00: Reflections on the Conference (Marshal Fernando, Indunil Kodithuwakku)

18.00 – 18.30: Words of Gratitude

18.30 – 19.30: Supper

19.45 – 21.15: Open Presentations (2)

Monday, 1 July 2019

07.15 – 07.45: Meditation

07.45 – 08.45: Breakfast



09.30 – 12.00: Exploring St Ottilien + Guided Tour of the Mission Museum

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch


Closing Session: Marshal Fernando and Kodithuwakku – Elizabeth Harris


Professor Wesley Ariarajah

Dr. S. Wesley Ariarajah, Methodist Minister from Sri Lanka, is currently Professor Emeritus of Ecumenical Theology at the Drew University School of Theology, Madison, NJ.  Before teaching at Drew for 17 years, he served the World Council of Churches, Geneva, for 16 years, first as the Director of the Interfaith Dialogue Programme, and later as the Council’s Deputy General Secretary.  He has written widely on Interfaith Relations, Theology of Religions, and Ecumenism.  His latest publications include: Your God, My God, Our God – Rethinking Christian Theology for Religious Plurality (WCC: 2012), and Strangers or Co-Pilgrims?-The Impact of Interfaith Dialogue on Christian Faith and Practice (Fortress: 2017).


Dr Elizabeth J Harris

Photo' Liz Harris

Dr Elizabeth Harris holds an Honorary Senior Research Fellowship within the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion at Birmingham University (UK). Previous to this, she was an Associate Professor in Religious Studies at Liverpool Hope University (UK), specializing in Buddhist Studies. From 1996 – 2007, she was the national Inter-Faith Relations Officer for the Methodist Church in Britain, whilst also being an Honorary Lecturer at Birmingham University and a Visiting Lecturer at Lund University. She is an International Adviser to the Society for Buddhist-Christian Relations and is currently President of the European Network of Buddhist-Christian Studies. Her publications include: What Buddhists Believe  (Oneworld, 1998): Theravada Buddhism and the British Encounter: Religious, missionary and colonial experience in nineteenth century Sri Lanka  (Routledge, 2006): Buddhism for a Violent World:  A Christian Reflection (Epworth, 2010/now published by SCM); Religion, Space and Conflict in Sri Lanka: colonial and postcolonial contexts(Routledge, 2018).


Dr Gudrun Loewner

Prof. Dr. Gudrun Loewner is a Lutheran German Pastor who is presently teaching intercultural theology and ecumenics at the United Theological College in Bangalore. Her PhD is from Heidelberg University, Germany on “Religion and Development in Sri Lanka”. Her special interest is in inculturation, Buddhism and women.  Her books in English are Christian Themes in Indian Art from the Mogul times till today(Manohar, New Delhi, 2012  -together with Anand Amaladass SJ) and Intercultural Dialogue in Art and Religion(Manohar, New Delhi 2018).


Dr Annewieke Vroom


Dr. Annewieke Vroom is Associate Professor in the Comparative Philosophy of Religion at the Faculty for Religion and Theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her teaching and research focus on Asian systems of thought, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, religious diversity and non-violent communication. She has a book coming out (2019) on the Masao Abe Dialogues. Annewieke Vroom also coordinates the BA-track in Comparative Religion and is interfaith supervisor in the MA-track in Spiritual Care at her university.


Professor Amos Yong


Amos Yong is Professor of Theology and Mission and Director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary (now Portland Seminary) and Portland State University, both in Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, and an undergraduate degree from Bethany University of the Assemblies of God. He has authored or edited approximately four dozen volumes. He and his wife, Alma, have three children and three grandchildren. Amos and Alma reside in Pasadena, California.

Please refer to this site or register for the newsletter to get updates!

Online Registration here.


 Travel and Chek-in Information

On Thru 27th Juen 209 from 14:00 to 18:30 A shuttle bus will comute between S-Bahn Station Geltendorf and the Archabbey St. Ottilien. Please wait in front of the railwaistation builidng.

If you need help to reach St. Ottilien please phone Dr. Martin Rötting on 0162 935 1984.

16:00 REGISTRATION DESK opens at the Foyer of the Exerzitienhaus St. Ottilien.


Travel to the Benedictine Archabbey of St. Ottilien

St Ottilien Kloster

Sankt Ottilien, 86922 Eresing


By Car:

Find your route/directions with google maps.


By Plane:

The nearest airport is Munich (MUC).

You can take the S-Bahn (S1 or S8) from Munich airport (Flughafen) to the main station or Hauptbahnhof of Munich city.

Change train to S4  Geltendorf. (Click here for the transport shedule of the Munich local Trainservice (MVV).

At Geltendorf, a conference shuttle service (from 3 – 6 pm) will be in place to bring you to the monastery, just wait in front of the station building in Geltndorf.

In case of problems, ring Martin on 0162 935 1984.



By Train:

From the main train-station or Hauptbahnhof of Munich, take the S-Bahn (S4) to Geltendorf. A conference shuttle bus will bring you from this station to the monastery of Sankt Ottilien.

Also, there is a small train-station in St. Ottilien.

Find your way and book your ticket for train-travel here.


Rates include conference fee and catering and hosting:

EUR 370 regular

EUR 270 reduced (students)

Registration includes:

  • conference fee
  • hosting
  • food (also vegetarian/vegan options, etc.)
  • cultural tour on the monastery ground.

Register online here.

Direct payment by international banking transfer

Register online for transfer in Germany or Credit Card payment. If you need to pay by direct international banking transfer,

1) Please pay to: Bank Account:

Erzabtei St. Ottilien, Network for Buddhist Christian Studies
Bank: Hypobank Landsberg, Germany
IBAN: DE09 7202 0070 0016 6303 14

2) Send a copy of your payment receipt (stating the bank, your full name and payment date) to the Secretary:


Please make sure to apply for your visa in time.

Please note: We cannot send invitation letters for visa application.

After registration and payment you will

  • receive a letter/email of confirmation
  • please use this letter/email for visa-application
  • receive further information and updates on the conference shortly before the event.


Conference Secretary:

If you need any furhter information, please wirte to:

Dr. Martin Rötting