CHRISTIANS IN OTHER COMPANIES
CHRISTIANS IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY (CAI)
(God loves DAIMLER)
but also the competitors and suppliers!
How the company-wide network came about
In mid-2011 Dr. Helmut Keller received a call from Peer-Detlev Schladebusch, pastor for business executives from the Wolfsburg region, with the request for an appointment in Stuttgart. Christians from Volkswagen in Wolfsburg wanted to talk to Daimler Christians about the topic of ‘company prayer’.
On July 15, 2011, the appointment took place in a Stuttgart restaurant. Peer-Detlev Schladebusch and two employees of VW traveled from Wolfsburg to Stuttgart by train to meet with Helmut Keller and Volker Fliehmann. It was a very special gathering to talk about the founding and running of company prayer circles and to think about setting up a cross-company network. At the end they prayed together.
Dr. Helmut Keller
September 12, 2013: Foundation of the CAI network at the IAA in Frankfurt/Main
Very soon the idea arose to found a company-wide network over all German automobile manufacturers and their suppliers. The name of the network was ‘Christians in the Automotive Industry’ with the abbreviation ‘CAI’. The kickoff for this network should be in 2013 on the occasion of the ‘Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA)’ in Frankfurt/Main.
And so it happened. At the IAA, on 12 September 2013, a get-together was held for all motorists in connection with a devotional service. For this purpose, a mobile small church, the ‘Lichtkirche’, was built in the center of the IAA, in which Christians from various car manufacturers and suppliers met for devotion and subsequent exchange. The CAI network was launched that day.
– a cross-company platform for engaging dedicated
Christians in the Automotive Industry
Get together with a short devotion in the ‘Light Church’
On September 13, 2013 the Christian media magazine
wrote (translated into English):
Between cars and engines: Christians at the IAA
The Christians in the Automobile Industry (CAI) invited to a church service at the 65th International Motor Show (IAA) on Thursday. It was the first event of the newly formed association.
Around 30 IAA visitors and employees of car manufacturers and suppliers took part in the CAI service. In a subsequent roundtable, employees of the car companies reported how they work as Christians in their company and discussed how they can network in the future.
November 16, 2013: Second CAI meeting in Weinstadt
The second meeting of the ‘Christians in the Automotive Industry’ took place in November of the same year in Weinstadt near Stuttgart. Representatives of numerous automobile companies, including Audi, BMW, Bosch, Daimler, Festo, Opel, Porsche, Trumpf, T-Systems, Volkswagen and ZF-Lenksysteme (today Robert Bosch Automotive Steering), took part in the event under the motto ‚God @ YourJob‘. Robert Fraser, former founder of a multi-award winning IT company and current director of ‘Joseph International’, from Kansas City, Missouri, USA, was invited as a guest speaker. His message encouraged participants to seize and practice their vocation not only in the churches, but also in the economy and society.
Quotr Robert Fraser:
“We can experience and establish the Kingdom of God there because the vast majority of Christian life is usually in the workplace.”
Other CAI events
Since the founding year 2013, there are annual CAI events. Worth mentioning here are the CAI kickoff events within the framework of the annual ‘Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA)’, which take place alternately in Frankfurt/Main and Hannover. The ‘Christians in the Automotive Industry’ participating in the IAA have the opportunity to exchange their experiences with the company prayer. In addition, during lunch time, it is invited to daily devotions held at a central location on the IAA grounds.
Here are the main CAI events that have taken place in the years between 2013 and 2023:
|12.09.2013:||Kickoff at the IAA in Frankfurt|
|16.11.2013:||Weinstadt-Beutelsbach near Stuttgart|
|01.02.2014:||Stadtmission (City Mission) Wolfsburg|
|26.09.2014:||Commercial Vehicle IAA in Hannover|
|17.09.2015:||IAA in Frankfurt|
|27.09.2016:||Commercial Vehicle IAA in Hannover|
|15.09.2017:||IAA in Frankfurt|
|20.09.2018:||Commercial Vehicle IAA in Hannover|
|16.11.2019:||Germany-wide CAI meeting in Weinstadt|
|23.11.2019:||Dr. Annette Winkler in Braunschweig|
|03.-06.01.2020:||CAI booth at MEHR conference in Augsburg|
|09.01.2020:||Ecumenical CAI service in Ingolstadt|
|06.-12.09.2021:||CAI at the IAA in Munich|
Call for daily 12 o’clock prayer
In view of the exhaust gas scandal at Volkswagen, in October 2015 the ‘Christians in the Automotive Industry’ called for daily prayers for the approximately 600,000 employees of the Volkswagen Group. See the article of the ‘Wolfsburger Allgemeine’ newspaper from 15.10.2015.
The industrial pastor and spokesman for the organization ‘Christians in the Automotive Industry’, Peer-Detlev Schladebusch from Wolfsburg, called on the Christians to set up an alarm clock on their mobile phone that would remind them by ringing or vibrating to pray for three minutes every day at noon. For this, small prayer cards with the inscription ‘12 o’clock – pray now!’ have been distributed.
Concrete prayer requests were the regular prayer for the leaders in charge to make the right choices, as well as the request for a ‘fair measure’ in the public, the media, and politics ‘so that not entire industries are unnecessarily discredited.’ Peer-Detlev Schladebusch said that the prayer call will also be sent to employees of other automobile companies. In the past, for example, Daimler employees had been praying for Opel employees. That is very encouraging.
Commercial Vehicle IAA in Hannover on 27.09.2016
Very appealing was the motto of the CAI launch sermon at the IAA in Hannover on 27.09.2016:
‘Wir haben die Laster,
Jesus die Anhänger.’
Literally translated into English this means:
‘We have the vices / trucks,
Jesus the followers / trailers.’
Note: This is a german pun. The German word ‘Laster’ stands for ‘vice’ and also for ‘truck’ and the German word ‘Anhänger’ stands for ‘follower’ and also for ‘trailer’.
Pastor Peer-Detlev Schladebusch: ‘It’s important that we change the towing vehicle in our lives. Christ can be our new towing vehicle for life and work.’
CAI slogan: Called for Mobility
Since the commercial vehicle IAA in September 2018 in Hannover, there is the new CAI slogan ‘Called for Mobility’ with a corresponding rollup.
Worship at Opel in Rüsselsheim on 22.01.2019
After the car company Opel was sold to the French carmaker PSA in August 2017, production in Rüsselsheim’s main plant was to be drastically reduced in 2019. In addition, hundreds of jobs at the Opel development center in Rüsselsheim were to be given to the French service company Segula.
On January 22, 2019, Christians met at the car manufacturer Opel in Rüsselsheim for a service to bring the challenges at Opel before God. It was prayed for the management and the works council, the safeguarding of jobs, the restructuring and cooperation within the PSA Group, good sales figures and a good utilization of the plants. The service under the motto ‘Opel Shalom’ was attended by 50 Opel employees, 8 pastors from the Rhine-Main area and also by some Christians from other car companies.
For more information, see a contribution from idea e.V. Evangelische Nachrichtenagentur Press Service, 31 January 2019, No. 026.
Germany-wide CAI meeting on November 16, 2019 in Weinstadt
On November 16, 2019, a Germany-wide CAI meeting took place in the Christus-Zentrum Weinstadt, in which around 100 employees from around 50 German automobile manufacturers and suppliers took part. The motto of the event was “Called for Mobility”. Given the enormous challenges in the areas of electromobility, alternative drive technologies, digitalization, autonomous driving, new mobility concepts and the growing uncertainty about the preservation of jobs, the participants were encouraged to act responsibly and to pray for their companies.
In addition to the opportunity to get to know and encourage each other and to pray together, different members of the CAI network from the companies Audi, Daimler, Trumpf and Volkswagen offered the following six workshops:
1. How do we communicate openly with management?
2. Don’t be afraid of change!
3. How do I set up and design a company prayer group?
4. Being a Christian at work
5. How do I pray in particularly difficult situations?
6. Off time instead of lunch time – the Alpha course in the company!
CAI booth at the MEHR conference in Augsburg from January 3 to 6, 2020
As part of the MEHR conference from 3 to 6 January 2020 in Augsburg, members of the ‘Christians in the Automotive Industry’ network pointed out their initiative at a booth. Interested Christians were encouraged to get involved in corporate prayer circles and to pray for their company, their bosses and colleagues.
Among other things, a map of Germany was issued, on which all CAI prayer circles known in Germany were visible. Marcel Mast (Daimler) made a short statement about the importance of company prayer.
CAI service in the Audi city of Ingolstadt on January 9, 2020
On January 9, 2020 (6 p.m.), the nationwide CAI network invited to an interdenominational service in Ingolstadt in the Catholic St. Pius Church. Under the theme ‘More than you believe’, approximately 300 visitors participated in the celebration, including numerous participants from the German automotive industry from Wolfsburg via Stuttgart to Munich. The manner in which this ecumenical service was held was something of a novelty in southern Germany and also encouraged others to try something like this at their locations.
The ecumenical service was led by the catholic bishop Gregor Maria Hanke (Diocese of Eichstätt). The sermon was designed by the regional bishop Klaus Stiegler (Evangelical Lutheran Church, Regensburg) and CAI spokesman Pastor Peer-Detlev Schladebusch. Christians from the German automotive industry from Audi, BMW, Daimler, MAN, Bosch and Continental were involved, too. The gospel choir Sunshine and a music team from the Free Evangelical Community of Ingolstadt took care of the musical design.
In addition to the roman catholic and evangelical bishops, there were also high-ranking representatives from the board, the works council and the city with greetings. TV, press and radio reported in various ways about the event. Here is an excerpt:
The different company affiliations and denominations played no role at the event. Rather, people focused on the one thing, namely the common Christian faith.
CAI Strategy and Prayer Retreat in Burbach/Hessen on July 10-11, 2020
On the weekend of July 10-11, 2020, a CAI Strategy and Prayer Retreat was held in Burbach, Hessen. For this, 22 participants from a total of 9 companies in the automotive industry met. Among others, Audi, BMW, Bosch, Daimler, Hanon Systems, Opel, Porsche and VW were represented. The retreat started with a devotion, a prayer walk and the presentation of ‘brought along’ ideas and impulses. A major content of the meeting related to the growing prayer circle movement and the development of proposals to make corporate prayer more attractive.
On the evening of July 10, there was also the possibility of personal exchange and enough space for personal life stories. After a devotion on Sunday morning, the focus was on growth-promoting framework conditions and the next steps were determined. The retreat ended with lunch. A more detailed insight into the contents of the retreat can be found in the photo protocol.
1st Bosch Christian Meeting in Stuttgart-Feuerbach on September 19, 2020
On September 19, 2020, the 1st Bosch Christian Meeting took place in the Christuskirche EFG in Stuttgart-Feuerbach. Due to imposed corona protection measures, the participants had to be divided into several rooms, into which the event was transmitted in picture and sound.
The event was held under the motto ‘God@YourJob’. In addition to a presentation by Dr. Helmut Keller on the prayer group movement at Daimler, the evening was embedded in a varied supporting program. A Bosch worship band provided background music for the event with inspiring worship songs.
1st BMW Christian Meeting in Munich on October 22, 2020
‘Your work. His honor. Called.’ Under this motto, the Christians at BMW celebrated their first church service in the Evangelium Church in Munich on October 22. With this service, the interdenominational network of Christian-oriented employees at BMW wanted to make itself and its work better known beyond its prayer circles. Against the backdrop of the Corona pandemic, the service was transmitted via Zoom into many living rooms.
In his welcoming speech, Ralph Schories, the leader of one of currently five prayer and discussion groups at BMW, recalled the history of Christians at BMW. It had been over 30 years since the first prayer group was founded at BMW. It is all the more beautiful that, thanks to the initiative and cooperation of many, the first church service is now being celebrated together and that, as a result, ‘a piece of God’s kingdom is being built’. The encouragement and intercession from other automotive companies, which the preparation team had experienced in the run-up to the service, was also important. ‘Even at the beginning of the week, we were still struggling to decide whether we could hold this service at all.’
The regional bishop of Munich and Upper Bavaria Christian Kopp, the dean of the Munich Deanery North Felix Reuter and Pastor Peter Lysy of the kda Bavaria (Church Service in the World of Work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria) also participated in the service. In his welcoming address, Kopp described how he sees profession and Christian faith together. If one achieves a lot in a company, then one needs sources of strength in one’s own life in order to recharge. ‘I consider the Christian faith to be a huge source of energy for my life. It gives me so much basic trust, so much serenity, so much freedom in thinking and in the whole orientation of life.’ That’s why it’s so important to think more about work and religion together again, as the Christians at BMW are doing in their themed service.
Starting shot for togetherness in the district
As host in the Evangelium Church, which will soon be converted into a deaconry church, Reuter welcomed the Christians at BMW as good neighbors. He said that people in the district are connected beyond the company walls. Many BMW employees not only work in the north of Munich, but also live there and are members of a local church congregation. ‘I therefore hope that this service will be a starting signal in togetherness for our district.’
Lysy recalled the kda Bayern’s relationship with the BMW Group. As part of a one-year business vicariate that the kda Bayern oversees, several pastors have already worked at BMW, including Lysy. ‘All the more reason for me to be present today at this premiere of a service of Christians at BMW.’
Being light and salt
The Christians at BMW had invited Rainer Harter, founder of the Freiburg House of Prayer, to be the preacher. In his sermon, titled ‘Your Work – His Glory’, Harter described what it means to live discipleship in the company. ‘It’s about being what Jesus told us to be, light and salt. Light also exposes darkness. We can’t leave certain things in the dark, but we are set to be a light and stand up for truth. Sometimes, as Christians, we’re also called to put salt on a wound, to bring attention to a grievance, and then to get involved, to bring our prayer offering to change things.’ Harter’s sermon, as well as the greetings, can be viewed at this link.
The Christians at BMW are part of the nationwide network of Christians in the Automotive Industry (CAI). This network was founded by Peer-Detlev Schladebusch, pastor at the Church Service in the World of Work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hanover. It supports the work of in-house prayer and discussion groups at companies in the automotive industry and their operationally associated supplier and service companies. The goal of CAI’s work is that ‘basic Christian values become visible in personal work life within the companies and in social responsibility outside the companies.’
Source: Kirchlicher Dienst in der Arbeitswelt der Evang.-Luth. Kirche in Bayern (kda), https://kda-bayern.de/gottesdienst-christen-bei-bmw-2020/
OVERALL PERSPECTIVE OF CORPORATE PRAYER
Press reports about company prayer
There are numerous press reports on corporate prayer in the public press. Some excerpts are listed below.
Company prayer in other companies
Corporate prayer groups are by no means only found in the major German automobile manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, MAN, Opel, Porsche or Volkswagen, and their supplier companies such as Bosch, Continental, Mahle or Trumpf. They also exist in numerous other companies in Germany and around the world. The website of ‘Christen in der Wirtschaft (CiW)’ at https://www.faktor-c.org/angebote/firmengebet/ gives an overview of existing corporate prayer groups in Germany. There are about 80 prayer groups listed. In the Germany map the respective prayer places are marked with red dots.
Further press releases and publications on the Internet
Interview with Helmut Keller, Markus Kleppe and Josef Kurz about company prayer
Interview with Helmut Keller about ‘Christen at Daimler and company prayer’
Interview with Marcel Mast about the importance of company prayer
With God in the job – Christians in the Automotive Industry (audio recording)
Christians at Trumpf – Livestream Report
April 2023 (Easter):