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A letter from Karen Moritz in the Czech Republic

November/December 2012

Always Giving Thanks

We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly  remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Chris.  I Thess. 1:2-3.

Even after two years here in the Czech Republic it still throws me off not having the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November, which made a good transition between autumn and Advent.  Although we do not formally celebrate Thanksgiving here in the Czech Republic, I am mindful of the many things for which I give thanks.  Being able to serve the PC(USA) and the ECCB (Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren) as an Ecumenical Relations Facilitator is one of my greatest joys for which I give thanks.  I get to work with exceptional people and congregations on both sides of the ocean. 

I may serve in what is often called “the most atheistic nation in Europe,” but I am mindful and grateful for the faithful witness of Christians here.  The longer I serve here the more I learn about the oppression of the church under Nazism and then Communism.  Only 20 years after the formation of the ECCB in 1918 the country was plunged into decades of oppression and suppression.  From 1938 until the Velvet Revolution, with the exception of 1945-1948, the Czech Republic lived under oppressive regimes and the churches suffered tremendous hardship.  The State made decisions about who could serve regardless of their call from God.  Pastors and laity alike were closely watched and monitored.  If they did not uphold the guidelines of the State there were dire consequences; their involvement in the church might be curtailed, and some people even went to prison.  In response to fear many congregations became closed in and private.  Openly proclaiming the gospel could mean imprisonment, under-employment, and restrictions regarding material necessities of life.  People of faith endured a great deal but still persevered and thrived. 

Thanksgiving feast

Now the faithful may be few in numbers, but as the faithful remnant the church is an important part of life here.  People in our ECCB congregations make significant contributions to their communities and country.  The Diakonie, the social services arm of the church, serves all kinds of people in a variety of ways throughout the Czech Republic.  The Protestant Theological Faculty not only educates people for ministry, but they have a substantial program that prepares people to serve in a variety of social service agencies.  We do have a lot to celebrate and we have many reasons to give thanks.

During my recent two-month itineration I was reminded of how many people have an interest in the Czech Republic and the life of the church here.  Without these connections the partnership between our denominations would not be possible, not to mention, flourishing.  During my itineration I had the opportunity to speak in congregations, at Women’s gatherings, and even a Czech Club in Lincoln, Neb.  During this season of Thanksgiving I am grateful for each and every person I met, old friends and new, who share a passion for the Czech Republic and the witness of the church here.

Of course I am also grateful for the time I had with family and friends during my two months in the U.S.  I was also able to connect with some friends I had not seen in many years.  While it was a full schedule, it was great to be back in the U.S.  Lest you feel sorry for me and the absence of Thanksgiving, I do have to mention that my friends the Dudas made sure I got a Thanksgiving feast before my return to Prague.  On my last Monday evening in the U.S. Gayle prepared a wonderful feast that included the usual: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and of course pumpkin pie.  We feasted like royalty.  For the love and thoughtfulness of friends I give thanks.  In addition to travelling around the Midwest I also got to travel around the East coast and Southeast, fortunately before Sandy hit.  I also got some wonderful time at the shore, both in New Jersey and Florida.  It was wonderful to reconnect with the beauty and majesty that is such an important part of the U.S. 

Can't forget the pumpkin pie.

However, one of my joys was the feeling of “coming home” to Prague.  It was great to make the transatlantic flight this time and to know some of the people and places that make this home.  Prague is an amazing city and I often give thanks for the privilege of living and working here.  I was able to reconnect with Czech friends and co-workers as well as many friends in the expat community.  God has blessed me with this unique opportunity to live and serve here.

I give thanks for each and every one of you.  Thank you for all your prayers, and I hope and pray that you will continue, or perhaps make a commitment, to pray for me and my ministry here.  I am also very aware of how your financial support makes it possible for me to serve the church here in the Czech Republic.  I also pray that you will continue to support my ministry financially or that you may make a new commitment to do so.   

May each of you have abundant reasons and opportunities for giving thanks as we now move into the season that is the heart of Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas.  In God’s greatest gift to humanity, his Son Jesus who took on flesh and became human, we celebrate and give thanks each and every day.

In this season of Thanksgiving please give thanks for and hold in prayer…

            The partnership between the PC(USA) and the ECCB

            The congregations, presbyteries, Synod, Synodal Council, and the staff of the Central Church Office of the ECCB

            The Diakonie and the Protestant Theological Faculty of the ECCB

            Friends and families on both sides of the ocean, who enrich our lives 

            The gift of travel that makes it possible to remain connected

S vděčným srdcem,

With a grateful heart,

Karen

 

The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 279

The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 285
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