In the interest in trying to figure out what, if any, the future of our partnership with the Markusgemeinde in Bielefeld, Germany might be, their pastor, the Rev. Hartmut Bruenger and Michael are doing a pulpit exchange in August — for three Sundays, Aug. 11, 18, and 25.
Michael will preach at Markusgemeinde in Bielefeld in German. And Hartmut will preach here at Old First in English. Pray for us both… and a strong Pentecostal Spirit blowing through the congregations that people might hear and understand!
Hartmut and his wife and daughter will stay at Michael’s while he is over in Bielefeld. He will cover pastoral duties, but Michael hopes people at Old First will also lead them in some sightseeing around Philly, and perhaps further…
There will be no expense to our congregation, as Michael will take care of his own travel expenses (and combine it was a week of vacation and a visit to friends and colleagues in Germany).
Michael is also hoping that even as it will be high summer, we will find ways for Hartmut to spend some quality time in conversation with our leadership. So he can learn more about Old First and tell us more about his congregation. Our underlying agenda is to identify ways that our partnership can be more real, focused and beneficial.
At the last Elders’ meeting, Larry Waddell suggested, for example, that it might be very interesting to schedule a series of skyped gathering between the leaders of both congregations. We could, for example, commit to three on-line meetings where we discussed how our congregations are affected by and responding to the rising secularity of the societies in which we are called to serve.
We are hoping this exchange will provide both of us with enough insight into the other congregation and the possibilites on the partnership that we can begin to envision what’s next. Or decide that the partnership has run its course.
In the meantime, think about what we want to make sure the Brungers see, experience and get to know (inside Old First or the wider UCC and also in the Philadelphia and the wider U.S.) during their visit in August.