A letter from Karen Moritz in the Czech Republic
Trip to Pečky—Did It All in Czech!
Late afternoon on Saturday, April 14, I made my way to the small town of Pečky. I met Dagmar at the local train station here in Prague and we took the 50-minute trip to her hometown. I had met her and her mother, Nadia, last year when attending the Protestant Kirchentag in Dresden, Germany. Nadia, another church member from Pečky, Ivana, the pastor from Olomouc, Jana, and I all stayed together in the apartment of Undine. After this meeting Dagmar and I had been in correspondence about my making a trip to her home church and leading worship there. We had initially talked about my leading worship in English, but since few people there speak much English we decided I would try to lead the service and preach in Czech. So, with a new post-Easter sermon in hand I made my way to Pečky.
Pečky is a small town of about 5,000 inhabitants. The ECCB congregation there is small; about 20 people attend worship weekly. I think we had about a dozen people the Sunday I was there. The church building is unique; it is done in the Cubist style, which draws architectural buffs from all over. In fact, two young people from a nearby town came by following worship simply to see the building. This church is like many ECCB churches— everything is in one building. Their church house has the sanctuary, a chapel, meeting rooms with a small kitchen, and an apartment on the top floor for the pastor. Like many of our small PC(USA) congregations, they do not have a pastor. For some time a retired pastor was coming regularly from Prague to lead worship each Sunday. Now they are filling the pulpit with a variety of different pastors, including yours truly. They were already asking me when I could return. Was my sermon really that good?
Since worship begins early, at 9:00 am, I was invited to come the night before. They had a presentation from a local architectural professor who spoke about the reconstruction of Dresden after the Second World War. Since I had been with Ivana and Nadia in Dresden they thought this would be an interesting program for me. His slides were great, but I have to confess I did not understand much of his Czech presentation. Since I am still working on basic vocabulary his specialized architectural terms were beyond me. Following his presentation we shared some food and fellowship. I spent the night in the church house, which was a little spooky since I was the only person in the whole building. However, I wasn’t too worried since I figured I was in God’s house and at least God was there. Following a good night’s sleep we all prepared for worship.
In addition to the Czechs attending the congregation we had some people who had moved to the Czech Republic from Belarus. They told me they could understand my sermon since I spoke slowly and clearly. This was the first time I had prepared and led an entire service in Czech; it was really a great feeling. I greatly appreciated the congregation’s patience and kindness. I pray they were really able to worship God. This was also the first time I preached in one of the raised pulpits that are common here. I was also grateful to have the assistance of my office mate Petr, who helped me prepare my Czech sermon. My co-worker Daniela also helped me put the finishing touches on the worship service. As is common in most churches, we shared hot beverages and snacks following the service. Although the day was cold and rainy the fellowship was warm and inviting.
After worship Dagmar, her mother, Nadia, and father, Miroslav, and I joined Ivana (who drove) for a trip to the nearby town of Poděbrady. This town is well known as a spa town and still has spa hotels where you can get drinks of the local mineral water. While walking through the gardens we spent the time chatting. Since I seem to be name-impaired—I have a hard time remembering names, particularly Czech ones, which seem so different to me—I had to ask Dagmar the name of her father. When she explained his name I was able to remember it. The name Miroslav, or Mirek for short, comes from the word mír, which means “peace,” and the word slav, which means "celebration." He was born after the Second World War and so his parents named him “celebration of peace.” What a cool name.
Following our walk around town we went to the ECCB church there to hear a presentation from the Dean of the Protestant Theological Faculty, Dr. Jindřich Halama. He gave a presentation about medicine and genetics. After the lecture we shared a brief meal and made our way back to Pečky. On the way back to Pečky we stopped at the home of the Kurátořka, the lay moderator of the Pečky congregation. After our visit with her we stopped at the church for a quick cup of coffee, or tea, and then I made my way to the train station and returned to Prague.
I invite you to continue in prayer for the ECCB and the PC(USA). I paticularly invite prayer for all the small and faithful congregations of both denominations.
S přáním Božího požehnání,
With wishes for God’s blessings,
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 279
Write to Karen Moritz
Give to Karen Moritz's sending and support