The Story of a Light. The Light of a Partnership that Reaches Across the Ocean

úvodníOn Sunday, 6 November 2016, we lit the main light in our evangelical church in Letohrad for the first time, symbolically ending the long journey  with our overseas partnership.  The foundations of our church were laid in 1998. We were moving in four years later and did not care too much about the missing details: terrain adjustments, pavement, heating covers – all of this could be done later. And indeed it was, only the light was still missing.

The Fruit of Our Partnership with the Annapolis Church

In our new church building, we started organising events and activities open to the public; such as concerts, exhibitions or language courses for children and adults. It was the English courses that opened the doors for a new character of our partnership with the Presbyterian Church in Annapolis. Our cooperation had already begun when we were constructing the new building, each year a group of people from Annapolis would come over and help us out with whatever was necessary. This was how we met the Morans, Mark and Connie; both had retired shortly before our meeting (Mark was a former soldier who had worked in technical businesses most of his life, Connie a teacher, a short, chubby lady with a contagious smile). Connie fell in love with the Czech Republic and she was very active, for example by generously supporting our youth programmes. She would regularly exchange e-mails with a number of people from our church and she was an excellent host for all who came to Annapolis. The Morans came to visit Letohrad again in the fall of 2010 and then again in the spring of 2011. We knew that Connie was not in very good health and we began to realize that  this might be the last time she dared to take such a long journey. In 2012, we began receiving worrying news, Connie was fighting  arterial disease. We received the saddest message in 2013: Mark remained alone.

The Morans, Letohrad, and the work of Czech Glassmakers

Light_020We did not reunite until this spring when Mark was participating in an international conference organised by our church in Prague, so he spent a weekend with  others in our congregation. He had lost weight and tears would sometimes fill his eyes, but you could see he was happy he could take walks through the town again. He told us he would be very glad to commemorate his wife in our church somehow, since the Letohrad congregation had meant so much to her. A new light seemed like a perfect opportunity.

We started looking for somebody who would design and make the light. We had a lucky hand when choosing the company: Zikron is a family-owned company that virtually read our minds. We were not able to describe what we wanted the light to look like, so we sat down with the owner of the company Pavel Haman, and the designer Iva, in the empty church, and we told them about Mark and Connie. The result is a beautiful chandelier made by Czech glassmakers, which has been hanging in our church since November. Twelve lights to symbolise the twelve apostles, a glass fish as the  universal symbol of Christianity, and blue colour, blue as the sky.

 The Light of a November Sunday

Light_011The entire Sunday service on 6 November, for which Mark arrived as well, focused on the new chandelier: the Biblical texts that were read, the sermon, and the songs. The moment when all the other lights in the room were gradually dimmed while we sang the Taize chant “In our darkness, there is no darkness with you, oh Lord”, and then the new light was suddenly lit, it was truly moving.

Mark Moran returned home after the celebration. We believe this was not the last time we met and hope that Letohrad will no longer be the place reminding him of the loss of his beloved wife, but that he will also remember the joyful day when “her” chandelier was lit for the first time. Mark was carrying a letter back to our partner church in Annapolis, in which we wrote: “Connie Moran was the light of Mark’s life and her unrelenting support of our partnership also brought light into our lives. We are very honoured to have a chandelier in our church reminding us of Connie and the time when two churches on the opposite sides of the globe created a partnership that has left such significant traces in our lives.“

 Renata Popelářová, Letohrad