A letter from Karen Moritz in the Czech Republic
An Embodied Faith
Summer in Prague is amazing. Unlike the climate in the Midwest, where I lived most recently, the days are sometimes cool and if we are lucky sunny. It is a wonderful time to visit our city and the Czech Republic. This year was no exception; we had several visitors throughout the summer who were hosted or helped by the staff at the Central Church Office of the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren (ECCB). Following the annual synod meeting in May, and after the departure of our international guests, we had more visitors from the United States. We had a large youth group from the Colts Neck Reformed Church in New Jersey visit with their pastor, Rev. Chris Vande Bunte. Their group was led by Rev. Duncan Hanson, who currently works with the Reformed Church of America from his home in Berlin, Germany. Duncan used to work with World Mission of the PC(USA) and is a name known to many in the denomination. He escorted the large group of 12 from Berlin to Prague. Although their visit was brief we were able to hit the highlights: Bethlehem Chapel where Jan Hus preached, Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, the Little Quarter, and of course the Castle. Their trip culminated with a celebration on May 27, 2011, called Noc Kostelů, a Night of Churches. ECCB congregations joined other congregations from many denominations in celebrating the joy of Christ who is alive here in the Czech Republic. Posters, signs, and booklets were prepared and displayed throughout the Czech Republic that contained detailed information regarding programs offered at the various churches. Many churches had tours of their facilities and special musical programs. Material was also included that outlined various options for visiting different congregations, which included a list of all the ECCB churches or tours, which included churches in various parts of Prague and the Czech Republic. It was an exciting witness to the presence and power of Christ at work through our churches throughout the entire Czech Republic. Our group was able to visit a couple of churches in Old Town, including Our Lady Before Týn and our ECCB church St. Martin’s in the Wall. It was exciting to see our churches packed and to hear the beautiful music in them. After my departure at 10 pm I’m told the group went on to visit a couple of other churches. It was a full day of fun and I was also excited to spend time with our American guests.
At the beginning of June, following participation in Kirchentag in Dresden, Germany, we had a visit with a pastor from Cuba. Rev. Francisco Marrera had taken a month to visit churches and denominational offices throughout Europe. In addition to visiting the historic sites of Prague he was able to meet with staff here at the Central Church Office. He was also able to meet with the Commission on Cuba of the ECCB. His trip also included visits at the Protestant Theological Faculty and the Diakonie Center for Nationwide Services here in Prague. His visit also gave me the opportunity to visit the famous Infant of Prague in the Little Quarter. I also tried to practice my Spanish with him but found that Czech seems to be crowding out any small knowledge I have of other languages. Oh well, c’est la vie.
In June we had visits from two different groups from different parts of the English-speaking world. We had a group of four visit from Pittsburgh, Pa. We had the pastor, his wife, and other church members from Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. The Fox Chapel church has a partnership with our Diakonie and their visit was prepared and hosted by Ing. Eva Grollova, who is a longtime staff person from the Diakonie. In addition to doing the fun sightseeing stuff in Prague they were able to experience some of the ministry of the Diakonie in Prague and in other parts of the Czech Republic. We are blessed to have members from partner churches visit us here in Prague. Earlier in the year we’ve had visits from the members of First Presbyterian Church in Annapolis, Md., who have a vibrant partnership with the congregation in Letohrad. Often their visits also include fun time here in Prague as well as working visits to Letohrad.
During June we also had a visit from Rev. Dr. Andrew Prasad and his wife Kiran. Andrew is currently the elected moderator of the Thames North Synod of the United Reformed Church of Great Britain (URC). He is the leader of 140 congregations with 7,000 members across north London, most of Bedforshire, Buckinghamshire, and Hertfordshire. The URC and the ECCB have a long-standing partnership. In the past Czech pastors have been able to serve in URC churches for one-year appointments, a tradition that will be continued in the coming year with co-pastors from the Czech Republic who will be serving in Andrew’s synod. Gabriela Horaková and her husband Martin Horák will be taking their family to Great Britian for this appointment. Both the ECCB and the URC are excited about this partnership and both parties discussed ways to deepen the connections between the two countries and the two churches. In addition to formal meetings at the Central Offices the Prasads were able to visit the Protestant Theological Faculty and a Diakonie center. But don’t fear, it was not all work and no fun; they were able to visit many of the wonderful historical sites of Prague and partake in the wonderful Czech cuisine.
Nurturing the relationships with individuals and groups is an important part of our ministry here. These personal ties embody our incarnational faith; God is most real in our connections to one another across continents and across oceans.
I invite you to continue in prayer for:
- The ECCB and its congregations, members, and clergy.
- The partnerships between ECCB and PC(USA) congregations.
- The partnerships between the ECCB, the RCA, and the URC.
- The people who embody the Church in all its wonderful manifestations.
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 200