This year, the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) is commemorating the 100th anniversary since its founding through the union of the Reformed and Lutheran churches in the Czech lands. The ECCB took over the teachings of both of these traditions, and also proudly acknowledged the Czech Reformation of the 15th century, as well as the “old Union of the Brethren”, as the foundations on which it builds. We are grateful that the ECCB has been the herald of joyous Biblical news of God’s kingdom which is for this world and which gives us hope that transcends our lives. We are grateful that as Protestants, we have been able to contribute significantly to spreading the Gospel in a comprehensible way, for example through our work on the new Czech ecumenical translation of the Bible, among other things. Continue reading We Confess and We Are Grateful. Declaration of the Synodal Council at the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren
We are happy and grateful for the year of celebrations that we could experience together. All the meetings, worship, film screenings and discussions in the Vaclav Havel Library, numerous publications, concerts, interviews, prayers… All culminated in a four-day festival in Pardubice, where church representatives from all over the country met. At the end of the year, we would like to thank to all those who have responded to the call to become the parish ministers and curators of the church. This happened symbolically on December 16th at the Municipal House in Prague, a place where one hundred years ago the General Assembly decided to join Czech parishes of two evangelical churches (Lutheran and Reformed) into one single Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren. Continue reading The festive gathering in the Municipal House in Prague concluded the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the existence of the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren
Jakub S. Trojan, theologian and minister of the ECCB, former dean of the Protestant Theological Faculty of the Charles University. On 25 January 1969, at the Olšany cemetery, he led the funeral of Jan Palach, a student of the Charles University who set himself on fire to protest against the growing indifference of the Czech people following our country’s occupation by the Soviet-led army in August 1968. This January, fifty years have passed since the event. Continue reading Faith Does Not Demand Definitive Answers. Interview with Jakub S. Trojan
In the autumn of last year, readers of the Český bratr magazine already had an opportunity to read an interview with Benjamin Klinecký, who, together with his wife Olga, has been renting and taking care of the “Mountain Home” resort in the Krkonoše mountains for the second year now. Much has changed for the better since they have been in charge and the numbers of guests choosing the “Mountain Home” as their holiday destination have increased significantly. There is another building that belongs to the resort, called the “Kunzárna”, which, however, was closed almost thirty years ago and has been falling into disrepair ever since.
Since 2010, a group of people who call themselves the “Friends of Herlíkovice” have been trying to renovate this timbered cottage with elements of the traditional Krkonoše architecture. They would like to see the cottage in operation again within three years, providing simple and stylish mountain accommodation as well as a small exhibition about the Czech and German history of the village. It is possible that the building will be declared a cultural monument this year, which would increase the chances of receiving a subsidy for its renovation.
A light in the Sudetenland: let’s light up the dark cottage
The Friends of Herlíkovice association organises regular volunteering jobs and Czech-German workcamps in cooperation with ASF-Servitus (a German organisation that has, for 60 years now, been sending out volunteers to countries that were once occupied by or fought with Hitler’s Germany). The 2018 summer volunteers started preparing new electricity cabling in the Kunzárna; the plan is to have the cottage lit up by the end of 2019. We would therefore welcome volunteer workers who understand electricity.
The spiritual programme at the summer workcamp (which was not only for young volunteers) was led by Leonardo Teca, a minister of the ECCB who was born in Angola. Some of the workers were preparing wood for the Mountain Home resort; they built a little house for storing wood during the winter. We are planning to spend all of the upcoming summer changing the bottom beams, with the help of a carpenter. We would also like to start building the chimney this year, so that it would be possible to heat the place again after all these years.
Overcoming boundaries, forgotten crafts workcamp
We invite anyone interested in a summer workcamp to come and work with volunteers from ASF Servitus this summer. The workcamp will take place in the last week of June. This time, the event should concentrate on traditional, yet often forgotten, crafts. The necessary skills were lost largely as a result of population changes in the border regions. The seminar part of the workcamp will focus on “Overcoming Boundaries in Society”, in line with the topic of the year determined by the Czech-German Future Fund. These boundaries often no longer divide the Czechs and the Germans, but rather they cut through societies, in various regions. As part of the seminar, we would like, together with interesting guests, to look for the causes of this polarisation, and for possible ways of overcoming them.
As usual, the workcamp will finish with a weekend mountain hike and a Czech-German Sunday service (on 30 June) to commemorate the 115th anniversary of the local church.
Partners and collaborators
Our important partners include the already-mentioned ASF Servitus and the Association of German Natives (the Heitmatkreis Hohenelbe, a compatriotic organisation from the Vrchlabí region). We also cooperate with the ECCB’s youth department, the ECCB’s congregation in Vrchlabí (the Herlíkovice congregation is affiliated to the one in Vrchlabí), and of course with Olga and Benjamin Klinecký, who are running the Mountain Home. We would also like to thank the Czech-German Future Fund and the ECCB’s Grant Fund for supporting the projects, as well as the ECCB’s Synodal Council, who is providing the Kunzárna cottage under a loan agreement.
Every year, some 20-30 international students study at the Prague Theology Faculty for a year or a semester, taking advantage of the range of courses that are taught there in English. Here are some thoughts from one of them – a student from Columbia Theological Seminary in the USA. Continue reading Reflections of an International Student in Prague
Milan Balabán was born on 3 September 1929 in Boratín (in what is today the Ukraine), where his father was a pastor of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) for the large Czech community in Volhynia. In 1948-1952 he studied theology at the Comenius Theological Faculty in Prague (today the Protestant Theological Faculty of Charles University – PTF). Continue reading Death of Prof. Milan Balabán, for many years a teacher at the Protestant Theological Faculty in Prague
In June 1989, Diaconia of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren renewed its activities after the fall of the communist regime. The celebrations that will commemorate this important anniversary will culminate on Thursday 20 June from 3 p.m., at a meeting in the Prague Salvator church. We are preparing a festive programme with many guests, which will take the participants on a tour through three decades of Diaconia’s life, from its post-revolution beginnings all the way to the present day. The programme will be interspersed with music and time for meeting up for a chat with friends over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. We invite all who would like to celebrate Diaconia’s birthday with us: employees, friends, partners of Diaconia and other people. We look forward to seeing you there! We have also prepared a special website for the celebrations: www.diakonie30.cz. Here, you can see a calendar of the events organised by Diaconia’s centres and schools for this occasion, as well as stories from Diaconia, information about its history and values; the website also offers the opportunity to buy a birthday present for Diaconia. Continue reading Diaconia is Celebrating Its 30th Birthday: What Can We Look Forward To?
Fifteen schools with over four hundred students: the ECCB’s Diaconia ranks first in special education provided in the Czech Republic. However, Diaconia did not only earn its leading position because of the numbers. Another reason is that its schools are open to children with the most severe types of disability, including low-functioning autism. In addition, Diaconia offers two boarding schools – in Prague and in Merklín near Plzeň. The approach at Diaconia’s special schools is based on the premise that every student is original. While you’ll find one sitting at his/her desk and behaving in an orderly manner, another will probably be moving around constantly, and yet another student might be so sensitive that even the slightest departure from the usual order will cause a huge disruption and will make the student scream so loud that the whole school can hear it. One thing is certain: even a person with a very serious handicap is able to receive education. This does not necessarily mean they are going to learn to read and write. One can also show progress in learning how to communicate the fact that they are hungry, they feel discomfort or a desire for the company of another person. These do not represent trivia for people with disabilities and their close ones. We rely on our teachers’ expertise, experience and good will. And also on their individual approach, which means a small group of children per class is necessary. Diaconia’s schools are family-type schools, that is one of our key principles.
Diaconia’s important moments of 2018
Diaconia has opened a brand new home for elderly people, called Vyhlídka (View/Outlook) in Vsetín. The homey feeling of the facility as well, as the clever design of the garden, have certainly contributed to the fact that Vsetín’s Diaconia won second place in the “NGO of the Year” state awards.
Diaconia has a number of restaurants and cafes where people with a disability work as waiters. A new café in the historical centre of Kolín has now been added to the list. Diaconia in Valašské Meziříčí has opened a praline-making factory, employing people with various types of disability.
Seven of Diaconia’s workers have received the National Award for Best Social Workers. Two of them gained the main awards: Karel Novák, director of Diaconia Rolnička in Soběslav, and Helena Hingarová, a social worker from Diaconia Litoměřice, who also deservedly became the media star of Diaconia.
The nationwide advent collection organised by Diaconia, called “Shoeboxes”, was an immense success. 38 822 gifts were collected for children from underprivileged families in the Czech Republic. A significant number of the ECCB’s churches also participated in this project.
The Lent Collection, which mostly took place in the ECCB’s congregations, raised 1.1 milion CZK. The funds were used to construct a playground and a community centre in a refugee camp in Zátarí, Jordan.
Diaconia’s centres in Brno, Soběslav, Rýmařov and Valašské Meziříčí celebrated the 25th anniversary of their founding. Diaconia was also glad to actively participate in the celebrations of the ECCB’s one-hundred-year anniversary.
In the first three months of 2019, the Synodal Council met the leaders of three sister churches from abroad for talks. These bilateral talks are about many current and common topics – and always about mission. Continue reading Direct Talks. The Synodal Council of the ECCB meets church leaders from three countries
Communist deputies have proposed the taxation of financial compensation for property which was unlawfully confiscated by the Communist regime in 1948. At the end of January this year, deputies of the Lower House of the Parliament approved the amendment. Continue reading Additional tax for churches. If the proposal passes, the churches will pay hundreds of millions on the returned property