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A letter from Karen Moritz in the Czech Republic

January 2012

People often ask me what I do as an Ecumenical Relations Facilitator in the Czech Republic.  Most of my time is spent building relationships.  As I have said before, I see my position here as a bridge joining churches and individuals in the United States and the Czech Republic.  This involves visiting our ECCB (Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren) congregations and getting to know them.  Now that I speak Czech a little better I am planning to regularly visit our Czech congregations that have partnerships with congregations in the U.S.  Last fall I visited the congregation in Sloupnice, which I wrote about in my October 2011 newsletter.  This year I visited our congregation in Olomouc.  Although it was a bitterly cold weekend I was received with incredible warmth.  Not only did I get to visit with my hosts Jana and Pavel (mostly in Czech), but I also got to visit with several members of the congregation.  We spent some time following worship getting to know one another and talking about their partnership with Covenant Presbyterian Church in Athens, Georgia.  Then I went to our congregation in Letohrad in March.  I had a great time visiting with the pastor and her family as well as getting to know many of the members of the congregation during conversation following worship.  Both churches were gracious enough to receive me and listen to me preach in Czech.  I will talk about some of these visits in more detail in future newsletters.  My previous ministries have also prepared me well for my current service because I have gotten to know many of our U.S. congregations and individuals who have connections to the Czech Republic.  I look forward to getting to know some of the U.S. congregations better when I spend some time in the U.S. this fall.  I am blessed by the many opportunities to meet new people and to learn about the many connections between the two churches and the two countries. 

A lot of my day-to-day work doesn’t sound very romantic. I spend a lot of my days at the computer.  We are so blessed to have this rapid means of communication available to us today.  I often think of the mission co-workers of past decades and centuries who did not have the ease of communication and travel that we have today.  My computer is an important link for me professionally and personally.  With email I can easily communicate with people all around the world.  Email provides an important link between partners in the U.S. and the Czech Republic.  Not only can I send text, but I can also send photos that document many of our activities here.  Please write to me at karen.moritz@pcusa.org.

The computer also provides ways to get information about congregations on both sides of the pond.  As I prepare for my congregational visits I usually check them out on their website.  Many of our partner churches have great webpages, and with my increasing skills in Czech I can look at websites for congregations here in the Czech Republic and the U.S.  I also often help with the webpage for the ECCB at www.e-cirkev.cz.   Now we have webpages in English and German in addition to the site in Czech.  I often find short articles on the Czech page and translate them for our English page.  For longer and more complicated articles we hire translators.  I also write short articles about events in the church and community here.  I also provide information for the PC(USA) website. www.pcusa.org, which has webpages devoted to the Czech Republic and my ministry here.  My monthly articles, like this one, are posted on my page. 

Another great use for the computer is skype, I often skype with my regional liaison in Germany and with staff at our PC(USA) offices in Louisville.  I am open to skype and can be reached at Karen.r.moritz, but I need a short note about who you are when you request to add me to your list (I seem to get a lot of requests from people I don’t know, which literally get “ignored”).  I have skyped with a PW group at First Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, and hope to use this tool more.  I am also very grateful to have skype on a personal level—I’m able to keep in touch with family and friends back in the States and in other parts of the world.  I don’t know how missionaries did it in the past when they could rarely travel home and could not have easy contact with friends and family.

My computer also makes it possible to use other tools like Facebook—my name there is Karen Rae Moritz—and LinkedIn.  We also have great social networks and options with our Mission Connections and our PC(USA) website.  There are a variety of ways to keep up to date on shared interests and concerns.  And, now that I’ve figured it out, I’ve been able to create an email list that makes it possible to send information, news, updates, and letters to everyone interested in what is happening here in the Czech Republic and with our partnership between the ECCB and the PC(USA).  If you want to be added to that list just drop me a note at one of the above email addresses.

Fortunately I get away from the computer a lot, for example, when l attend the many meetings we have here in the Central Church Office and in other parts of Prague and elsewhere.  I’ve also been able to travel around a lot and visit some of partner churches and other ECCB congregations.  However, I do find my computer an invaluable tool for my current ministry.  One of the biggest challenges has been learning how to use my computer here in the office because it does everything in Czech!  I didn’t realize what a specific language computers speak. It’s often been quite amusing and a challenge to learn how to operate the computer in another language.  As I grow in my knowledge I’m sure I will find all kinds of new ways to use my computer and technology for my ministry here in the Czech Republic.

Perhaps I’ll see you at church or on the computer one day.

S přáním Božího požehnání,

With wishes for God’s blessings,

Karen

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

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