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News from Romania

Page history last edited by Pastor Jared R. Stahler 10 years, 6 months ago




by The Revs. Michael and Terri Church

Metro New York Synod Missionaries in Romania


Lent, 2010

Joyful Noise!


We had a choir last Sunday.


For most Lutheran churches, that's not big news.  Some are large and some are small, some sing Gospel music and others stick to Bach -- but our churches usually have a choir.


Unless, of course, your congregation is a brand-new gathering of complete strangers, most coming from other churches or no church at all, and so few in number that even simple hymns seem to get lost in a large nave.

But there we were, after service a week ago, drinking fruit-flavored tea and eating the nuts that are our Lenten substitute for cookies, when a few people took Pr. Terri into the corner and said, "We want a choir."  She answered, logically, "Okay, if you'll all sing."


And they did, the very next Sunday.  They came early to practice, and most of them brought a friend.

We had many other things about which to rejoice on Laetare Sunday.  An African student is preparing for baptism, an American professor is recovering from emergency heart surgery.  An old friend from Long Island City showed up.  We even ran out of hymnals, which was a new (and surprisingly pleasant) experience.


But having God's people come together in song, not because we suggested it but because they wanted to sing God's praises -- that was an exciting moment in our ministry.



February, 2010

A Little Help From Our Friends

Some People We'd Like You to Meet

Like any parish pastors, we can't do it alone.  We depend upon the help and support of a wide network:  other pastors and lay people, ecumenical colleagues and friends. So we'd like to introduce our friends at home to some of our friends over here.


Many New Yorkers have already had a chance to meet Bishop Deszo Adorjani of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Romania, and his First Counselor, Pastor Attila Feher.  They are the leaders of a large team, which also includes two talented vicars, Levente Korodi and Beata Boldizar.  The vicars handle most of the day-to-day operation of the parish.  Beata leads services in German as well as Hungarian. And Levente's wife, Brigitta, is especially important to us, since she babysits for our son Theodore!


But one friend who contributes immensely to our work isn't even a member of the Lutheran church.  Brian Johnston is a missionary sent by the Presbyterian Church in Canada, who teaches English at the seminary in town.  He has lived here for years, and speaks fluent Hungarian, which enables him to serve as a guide to the cultural differences we encounter every day, both ecclesiastical and otherwise.


Brian is also a gifted photographer and, especially, musician.  At the seminary, he leads two different choirs, and travels with them throughout Transylvania, bringing music to the remote “diaspora” churches, many of which have no musicians or even pastors of their own.  But when he's in in Cluj on Sunday, Brian is also happy to help us out, leading music during our worship services.


This is just the beginning.  There are many other people whose help is a daily blessing to us.  It's a big network and you are a part of it too.  We depend upon your prayers, and your enthusiasm, just as we depend upon the advice and assistance of our friends in Cluj.  This is not just our ministry, but also theirs and yours.


Christmas and Epiphany, 2009

La Mulţi Ani!


On New Year's Eve, in the villages and cities of Romania, costumed dancers enact an ancient ritual.  Called the jocul usului, or Bear Play, it shows an animal who is wounded and killed, and then rises from the dead.  Despite that grim description, it is a joyful event, led by adults and children who end it with warm new year's greetings for everybody.


The friend who explained it to us was a little embarrassed.  gIt's some sort of pagan ritual,h she said. She's probably right.  And yet its theme – death and new life – is the very center of the Christian faith.  For centuries, facing east to pray, we have used the morning sunrise as a symbol of the Resurrection.  And in the same way, the death of an old year and the birth of a new one can remind us of Christ, rising triumphant from the tomb. A few weeks ago, we held our first service of Holy Communion here in Cluj. It was a marvelous event. The organ played, the boys choir of the Theological Institute led us in song. We heard the words of St. Paul, calling us to rejoice always becasue the Lord is near. And we did rejoice, along with an assembly of nearly 60 people, including not only many of the friends we had made already, but also strangers who became friends that night.


You were with us, too.  Your prayers and your fellowship gave us strength, across an ocean and most of a continent.  Over the past months, many of you have written, asking how you can help.  Our answer is the same:  Keep on praying for this ministry.  Hold it up, in your homes and in your churches.  Ask the Spirit to call and gather a people among the English-speakers in this city.


Since that first night, our services have been more modest affairs.  A handful of people gather in the underground art gallery below the church, to share the Word and sacrament.  It is a small, intimate place, which heightens our sense of connection to one another. 


But whether it is in the nave of a cathedral or an improvised subterranean chapel, whether it is in New York or Romania, the message remains the same.  We announce the good news of Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection offer life on every day and in every nation.




Stay in Touch! 

 Visit www.englishministryromania.org to learn more about Pastors Michael and Terri Church, and the Metro NY Synod's ministry in Transylvania.


 To receive monthly email updates, please write to PastorMichael@englishministryromania.org, with the word "Subscribe."


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