A letter from Karen Moritz in the Czech Republic
PC(USA) represented at the ECCB Synod meeting
May was the beginning of a very busy and eventful time here at the Central Offices of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB). We have had a number of ecumenical visitors from all over the world. May marked the beginning of this busy time with the annual meeting of the synod. The 33rd meeting of the synod of the ECCB met May 19–22, 2011. This annual assembly, much like our General Assembly, is the time when the business of the church is conducted. Both clergy and lay representatives are elected by their seniorates to serve as delegates. The seniorate is the governing body that includes the congregations in a geographical area much like our presbyteries. Each year international delegates are also invited to participate. This year English-speaking guests were invited, next year German-speaking guests will be invited.
This year the PC(USA) was well represented with the participation of four representatives. The new area coordinator for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia, Amgad Beblawi, and Ben Albers, who is an associate for mission personnel relations, both came from the Louisville offices. The convener of the Czech Mission Network, Rev. Jody Filipi, came from Omaha, Nebraska. Our fourth representative was Burkhard Paetzold, the PC(USA) World Mission liaison for Central and Eastern Europe/Roma; he came from Petershagen, Germany. In addition to participating in the scheduled events with the other international participants they also gave a formal greeting to the synod from the PC(USA), which was delivered by Rev. Filipi in Czech!
The activities began with a meeting prior to the opening service, which included the international guests, members of the synodal council, the presidium, and staff members of the central church office. In addition to our guests from the United States we had international guests from Hungary, France, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Korea. They represented churches, denominations, and other church-related organizations.
Following this meeting at Hus House everyone moved to the Emmaus Abbey, a few blocks away near Charles Square. The synod began with a worship service in the church of the abbey. Worship was led by a variety of people representing the synod and the wider church and included the Lord’s Supper. Following worship the synod continued its work by dealing with procedural matters like noting delegates and visitors, electing the clerks for the meetings, electing the presidium and the new president of the synod. The previous president had served for many years, so the election of a new president represented a significant change for the synod.
Since we had English-speaking international guests, material and live translation were provided in English. As I continue to learn Czech, I was grateful for the extra English help during this meeting. The staff and I worked together to translate and prepare the materials in English, so I learned a lot of new church Czech words. It was an interesting process of preparation.
Following dinner there were four presentations about work with and for the Roma throughout the Czech Republic. Speakers included a social anthropologist, a teacher, the director of a Diakonia center, and the head of the church administration of the Lutheran Church in Slovakia. The presentations covered issues ranging from education, history of the Roma people throughout the Czech Republic and central Europe, and the important place faith has in the life of many Roma. Discussions also focused on ways in which the church has worked with and for the Roma, which included our successes and struggles. The Thursday evening session closed with prayer and a song.
Friday morning began with a presentation to Hebe Kohlbrugge honoring her longtime service to the churches in the Czech Republic and Holland. She wrote a book about her important work, which spanned many decades. She spoke about her fond memories of Prague and the Czech Republic and her joy in many years of fulfilling ministry. After her presentation some of the international delegates conveyed greetings from their churches to the synod. The synod conducted routine business, which dealt with budgets and contributions to the work of the denomination. There was also a presentation about a report done regarding the recreational centers of many of the ECCB congregations. Following lunch the international delegates attended a presentation at the Diakonia central offices, which presented more in-depth material about work for and with the Roma. During this time the synod delegates met for committee work. The synod has four committees, which deal with theology, education, economic and financial matters, and regulations governing the work of the synod.
Although the international delegates left Saturday, the synod continued its work throughout the day. They discussed issues related to church order and the service and work of ordained clergy, and they heard reports from the various committees. All the new clergy were introduced prior to the lunch break and following lunch the synod concluded its work together. The synod came to an official close with a worship service Sunday morning, May 22, at Kliment Church in Prague, which included the Lord’s Supper.
The 2nd session of the 33rd Synod will meet June 7–10, 2012.
I invite you to continue to pray for:
- The ECCB and its ministry throughout the Czech Republic and around the world.
- The PC(USA) and our partnership with the ECCB and other churches around the world.
- Those committed to the ecumenical movement, who work toward the unity of the Church.
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 200