Bielefeld, Sonntag, den 22.1.12
Dear Friends at Old First,
We are happy, even joyous, to be able to celebrate worship together with the same songs and words today. This gives expression to our experience: we belong together as Sisters and Brothers in Christ, but also as Friends, who already have a 20 year history with one another.
It is really impressive that our Partnership has lasted so many years and despite all the changes in both congregations. Certainly for Markusgemeinde (best translated probably as St. Mark’s parish), time has not stood still. My colleague, Matthias Blomeier, has taken a position as Social Minister for our region of the protestant church. And Dieter Frohloff has become the head of the Youth Division for our church in all of Westfalen. It is not easy, with only one pastor now, to keep up with all the work of the parish. But it has been good to see that many, many volunteers have surfaced, and the offers of volunteer help seem to continue on their own. At the end of our worship today, we will begin our new church year and give thanks for the past accomplishments of 2011.
Looking at Old First always does us good. Through Facebook and the E-pistles, we are well aware of your activities and plans. Your website is wonderful. We are thrilled, through technology, to be able to see from such a distance and in our hearts to be able to accompany you in your development. Certaintly, we know there are personal visits that happen between our people that work to keep up our relationship. But here in the Markusgemeinde, we are hearing increasingly questions about what the next step in our partnership with Old First could be. It’s youth as well as the adults who are asking. Could we perhaps consider organizing an inter-generational exchange? We should think about that!
You must like hearing that my wearing the UCC’s stole (that you gave us when the youth visited with Michael two summers ago) reminds us every Sunday of the partnership. The congregation loves the colors and the symbols. In our worship today, we are going to reflect on the meaning of the symbols.
The stole is also a sign for how very much for us our bond with Old First lies on our heart, in the truest meaning of that phrase. We enjoy hearing the news from you and dream of a next, new project together.
Rev. Hartmut Brünger, Pastor, the Pastor of the Markusgemeinde
(letter translated from the German by Michael… hopefully capturing
the feel as well as the meaning of Hartmut’s greeting correctly!)