In the previous issues of our Bulletin, we have been reporting about the important anniversaries that our church has celebrated in the past few years. However, the most important anniversary for the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren is still ahead of us: in the autumn of this year, 100 years will have passed since the ECCB was founded. This will certainly be the most demanding event in terms of the necessary preparations that are already under way. The dignity of the celebration, we believe, should correspond with the importance of this historic milestone. The founding of our church is important not only for us, Protestants, but also for our fellow citizens, despite the fact that they may not be aware of it. They come across our activities and hear about us in the media when we draw attention to injustice and lies, they accept our help – from chaplains, teachers, pastors at weddings…
Bulletin 43 – Easter ENG
This issue of the Ecumenical Bulletin comes just before Easter – intentionally. It gives us an opportunity to show that important anniversaries do not need to be celebrated once in a hundred or five hundred years, but that we have a reason to celebrate every year. The remembering of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and the celebration of his resurrection brings reassurance and peace into our hearts. This “anniversary” is definitely worth commemorating every year.
It is our hope, dear friends, that you will find at least some of the texts we are bringing you interesting and enriching.
We wish you peace and joy with the upcoming Easter holidays.
“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17–18)
On behalf of the Editorial Board
Bulletin 43 – Easter ENG
Last year on the 14th of December, on the occasion of the Day of the Czech Prison Service, 15 new prison chaplains and 19 volunteers were commissioned for service at a ceremonial event. For the first time this was an ecumenical church service held at the church of St Wenceslas in Zderaz, Prague, which used to serve as the New Town penitentiary in the 19th century. The new chaplains took an oath before the general secretary of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, Stanislav Přibyl, and the chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, Daniel Ženatý. Continue reading Prison Chaplains Sent Into Service, Ecumenical Cooperation Contract Signed. A Unique Expression of Cooperation Between Churches
How did the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren cope with the change of its position after the Revolution of 1989 in terms of “reconciliation and forgiveness”, taking into account also the wider framework given by Martin Luther’s teachings, proclaimed five hundred years ago?
Martin Luther was, without a doubt, a conscious member of the Catholic, i.e. universal church. The existence of the universal church was perceived as a given fact also by John Hus. What the church found unacceptable was Luther’s realization that the church was neither the owner nor the mediator of salvation. One may not buy penitence or forgiveness, let alone a fulfilled life. We should keep in mind what Luther said: that we are, or may hope to be, part of the invisible Church, the one church that belongs to God. Why, then, do we fear so much for our Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren? Continue reading The Anniversary of the Reformation and Paths Towards Reconciliation After the Velvet Revolution
It is a bit of a shame that Prague has no permanent exhibition on the topic of the history of the Reformation in the Czech lands. You will find a number of Protestant museums in France or Germany, the same applies to Budapest. Raising awareness of our Reformation-related history is important, especially with regard to the current series of anniversaries we have been commemorating: the publishing of the Kralice Bible, the deaths of Jan Hus and Jerome of Prague, the beginning of the Reformation (Martin Luther), and the meeting of the Czech Protestants at which the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren was established. It is strange that our Protestant history should not be presented more proudly to the public when it has so much to offer: Hus and his predecessors as the heralds of the European Reformation, the years of religious peace with the Unity of the Brethren, the Toleration years, and the unique combination arising from the unification of the two branches of the Protestant tradition. Continue reading The Memorials of the Toleration Period. The Heritage of Our Fathers Has Its Value
“Let us now share the signs of peace with one another.”
When I heard the pastor say these words, I stood up, ready to smile and calmly shake hands with people in the neighbouring pews, just as we do in my hometown church in the Czech Republic. But what I got was something quite different. Suddenly, people jumped out of their seats. The band burst into a fast-paced song. Everyone started running around the church, greeting anyone and everyone who happened to stand in their way. Many warm hugs, kisses, and firm handshakes were loudly exchanged. After at least five minutes of this chaos (and after everyone but me circled around the whole church at least once), people seemed to start to calm down. When they finally found their places again, the service moved to its next point as if nothing happened. But I couldn’t move on; I had so many questions! “What just happened? How was this mayhem a sharing of the sings of peace? And most importantly: which of the several lunch invitations I just received will I accept?!” Continue reading Signs of Peace – Thoughts From My Exchange Studies in the US
Love. Forgive. “However, concerning the Sudeten Germans it is not that simple!” This is the objection that I often hear.
I (born in 1952) have grown up in the Sudetenland, in the German speaking village of Hackelsdorf/Herlíkovice on the upper Elbe in the Giant Mountains. We knew nothing. Nothing about the subdivision of the concentration camp Groß Rosen. We had no idea what the houses were used for before or that there used to be a school, a mill house, a grocery store and pubs. With other children I used to look through the windows into the empty wooden houses on the mountain side and poked with sticks into the graves (what if there is a dead German to find?). The people did not know each other, as every family came from somewhere else they glowered at each other and did not trust one another. There was no past, no community. Maybe nostalgia. Continue reading The Ways to Reconciliation and Forgiveness in the Czech-Sudeten German Relations. A Personal View.
Zaatari, one of the biggest refugee camps in the world, can be easily accessed by car. Usually, one sets off on a highway, which leads from Amman, the capital of Jordan, to the boarder with Syria. Once over the border one usually turns onto the so-called Baghdad road, drives through a mildly hilly desert landscape, and from a distance one can already see a big city. Before 2012, Zaatari described a small village. Everything has changed since the war broke out in Syria. More and more refugees arrived in Jordan. For the establishment of the refugee camp, Zaatari for several reasons proved to be a good place – a source of groundwater was needed, a crucial thing in the desert arid land. The camp was established in cooperation with international organisations and under the supervision of experienced Jordanian authorities; the country has a lot of experience with the arrival of refugees. Continue reading Keeping hope. To whom and how will help a donation from the fast collection
David Sinclair, a pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, will be a significant contribution to the rich relations existing between the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren and churches in English-speaking countries. He has been working in the ECCB’s Central Church Office since the beginning of the year and is to spend the coming four years taking care of foreign visitors, organising their programme, and being available to any congregations wishing to develop partnerships with churches in English-speaking countries. Continue reading Scottish Pastor in Prague. David Sinclair will be responsible for the ECCB’s relations with English-speaking countries
What can we do for the world around us? The period of Lent, lasting forty days before Easter, which began on 14 February this year, should serve as a time of reflection. This may also lead to a deeper consideration of environmental issues. The ECCB offers people several interesting ways to spend this time. Continue reading What Can We Do for the World Around Us? Lent As a Time for Reflection
In the first week of September 2017 the seventh annual International Conference on Sociology and Social Work took place in Prague. The tradition of this interdisciplinary meeting started more or less spontaneously several years ago on the initiative of some British and Dutch sociologists and social workers. In recent years this international circle has expanded and has now reached the Czech Republic: this year’s conference took place in Prague for the first time, at the Protestant Theological Faculty of Charles University, and there were around 50 participants coming from 11 countries. The theme chosen this year focused on sociology and social work in post-secular societies. The prefix “post-” is often used to express a kind of state that occurs after attaining a peak in the modern era. Modernism was linked to secularisation, but, as can be seen at the end of the 20th century, secularisation has never been fully achieved anywhere. It is true that in modern states the public sphere has usually been separated from the ecclesiastical one and is administered without any direct influence from religious institutions, but religion and the churches still exist and represent a significant alternative to the prevailing rational-technocratic and economic-pragmatic perspective of modern people and modern civilisation. They show that it is possible to imagine a different dimension of life and the world. The conference focused on how the churches can be involved in the shaping of contemporary communities, how human spirituality can be used in social work, and how to recognise and fulfil spiritual needs. Continue reading Interdisciplinary and international conference on sociology and social work at the Protestant Theological Faculty of Charles University