A letter from Karen Moritz in the Czech Republic
One of the joys of my ministry here in the Czech Republic is getting to know the congregations here in the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB). I have been working to visit all the congregations who have English-speaking partnerships—about a dozen who partner with congregations in the U.S., and a couple more who partner with congregations in Scotland and England. In the spring I was able to visit two of them. In addition to visiting the Czech congregations I have also been working to visit many of our PC(USA) congregations while back in the U.S. for Interpretation Assignment. It’s exciting to go and to learn how unique each partnership is.
While many of the partnerships work separately, sometimes they all work together on shared projects. Usually the agent for their shared work is the Czech Mission Network in the U.S., http://czechconnections.org/ and http://czechpartner.org/Welcome.html, and the American Working Group here in the Czech Republic, www.e-cirkev.cz/en/. This year one shared project was getting six Czech youth to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue University in July. Two young women and one young man went from the Vsetin area. On the Saturday of my visit to Vsetin I was able to meet, and get to know, the two young ladies from the Vsetin area, Lucka and Sara.
In May I was able to visit two congregations with partnerships. I visited the ECCB congregation in Orlová, which is in the eastern part of the Czech Republic near the Polish border. There I participated in worship and gave a short sermon in Czech. I preached on the Pentecost passage in Acts 2 and focused on the passage that described Pentecost as not only being able to speak other languages but the ability to understand when others speak different languages. Obviously with my struggles to learn Czech this passage took on new meaning for me. The following Sunday I participated in worship in our ECCB congregation in south Prague called Kostel Milíče z Kroměříže, named after a famous Reformer who came from the eastern town of Kroměříž, http://jizni-mesto.evangnet.cz/en/. They are one of the newer churches in the ECCB; their church building was dedicated in 2006. They have a partnership with House of Hope Church in St. Paul, Minn., http://www.hohchurch.org/. Their pastor, Rev. Tom Forster-Smith, was able to visit the Czech Republic and this congregation during a visit last year. Following worship and refreshments I sat down with the pastor, Michal Šourek, and members of the congregation to talk about my ministry here, to discuss the nature of partnerships, and to talk about their specific partnership. Although the weather was cool and rainy the hospitality was warm and generous.
In June I was able to visit another partner congregation in the eastern town of Olomouc. This was my second visit to this congregation. Jana Rumlová is the pastor there. She and her husband, Pavel Ruml, and their three children welcomed me warmly. On Sunday I was able to participate in worship and preach, once again in Czech. I don’t think it was one of my best sermons but everyone was very kind and I was told that my Czech was very understandable. Following refreshments after worship I was able to meet with the group preparing for their upcoming English Camp. Six people from their partner congregation, Covenant Presbyterian Church in Athens, Ga., http://www.covpresathens.org/, were coming to Olomouc in two weeks to lead the camp. Everyone was very excited and there were a lot of preparations being made.
One thing I really enjoy about my visits to Olomouc is the important Czech lessons I learn while there. Jana and Pavel are very patient and Pavel is always eager to help me with my colloquial Czech. During this visit I learned the very important phrase for “chill out.” If you ask me I’ll teach it to you, too. It was a great visit and I look forward to going there again.
My work with Olomouc didn’t end in June. On July 4 I met the six travelers from the U.S. at the airport. The group included: Sue and Steve Rathbun, Rebecca Silver, Linda Rogers, Shari Cobb and her daughter Anna. They got to be here during two of the most important holidays of the year. Friday, July 5, was the commemoration of the time when Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity to the Czech lands 1,150 years ago. On Saturday, July 6, we commemorated the burning of Jan Hus at the stake in 1415. You may have noticed that these two important holidays mark important events in the Christian heritage of this rather unchurched nation. Kind of amazing, isn’t it? The sad thing is, I don’t think the group noticed much difference. Like many of our holidays in the U.S. it simply means a day off from work.
When they returned to Prague the following weekend I heard glowing reports of the camp. The church valued the fact that the camp was done for people of all ages, not just children. The U.S. group valued the receptiveness of all the students and the generous hospitality of the congregation.
Activities between the partner congregations are as varied as the congregations themselves. Each partnership has a unique history. Half the fun is learning about the differences and the many different ways in which they all partner together. While itinerating in the U.S. this year I look forward to visiting more of our U.S. congregations and learning about ministries and passion for partnership with the ECCB.
I invite you to continue in prayer:
- for the ECCB and the PC(USA) and their partnerships together
- for the Czech Mission Network (CzMN) and the American Working Group (AWG)
- for the partnership between the ECCB and the Church of Scotland
With many thanks for your continuing support—I am here by your gifts and God’s grace. If you are reading my mission letter for the first time, I invite your prayers, correspondence and financial gifts to sustain God’s mission in the Czech Republic.
S přáním Božího požehnání,
I wish you God’s blessings,
Rev. Dr. Karen R Moritz
ECCB Central Church office
Jungmannova 9 P.O. Box 466
CZ 111 21 Praha 1
+420 224 999 280 office
Write to Karen Moritz