Edmonton Area Post Ordination Training visits Berlin
Forgiveness liberates people in a way nothing else does. This was one of the key messages that Kristin Breuss, Curate and Associate Pastor at Holy Trinity, Swiss Cottage, picked up from the Revd Dr Theilemann, at the Berlin Mission. Dr Theilemann spoke of how the fall of the Berlin Wall “all started with prayer, worship, in NicolaiKirche [St Nicholas’ Church, Berlin] – holding candles, peaceful protest of 90,000 people in the streets. It grew out of non-violence and forgiveness for the Stasi people, pretty tough. One can only ask, only when the Spirit of God helps you”.
Kristin was one of twenty clergy from the Edmonton Area who experienced a stimulating and varied four-day study trip to Berlin, as part of Post Ordination Training (POT). Led by Fr Luke, Archdeacon of Hampstead, the Revd Dr Gordon Giles, POT Director, and the Revd Stephen Leader, Assistant POT Director, the group explored mission, ministry and church life in an entirely different context. Kristin valued the opportunity “to get to know each other and deepen friendships across varied church contexts and traditions in London, which will no doubt, bear much fruit”.
Highlights included a tour of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s home and hear about his contextual ministry; worshipping and touring Berlin’s diverse and beautiful churches, such as the ornate cathedral Berliner Dom, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, and “Sacrow’s beautiful Church of the Redeemer”, by Lake Jungfernsee and formerly integrated into the protective concrete wall of the Iron Curtain.
The group also learned about the pros and cons of Germany’s church tax system; the challenges of reintroducing faith to the East; the way children were leading their parents to Christ; the active role of the church in providing sanctuary for migrants from Syria and Africa; and the role of interfaith work in communities where large Islamic communities are setting up.
Revd Dr Gordon Giles thought:
“The benefits of a ‘mixed bunch of clergy’ spending time in study and fellowship … were considerable”, and that “beer and sausages aside, the trip afforded a fascinating snapshot into the life and mission of the German church … and the necessity to remain Gospel focussed”.
Revd Stephen Leader was struck by “how similar yet different our two Dioceses are” and how amazing it was “to hear firsthand what it had been like for the German church to have ministered through the World Wars, as well as communism, and the scars that remain”. Reflecting on the impact of the visit, with his Parish Church Council, at St John’s Palmers Green, Stephen is exploring a link between a Berlin parish and his own.
He added: “Sometimes we can be quite focussed on our own contexts in ministry, so it was fantastic to remember we part of something much bigger – the Christian church.”
For further information on the Edmonton Area Post Ordination Training, please contact Revd Dr Gordon Giles.