Dear Partners in Mission:
On October 9, 1989 the weekly Monday prayer meeting at the St. Nicholas church in Leipzig had grown from a handful of participants to over 70,000 people. They gathered to pray for peace and protest the human rights abuses of the communist East German government. As the thousands marched in the street many feared the police would react with violence as had occurred in Tiananmen Square just months before. But then a miracle happened. The soldiers watched but didn’t shoot. The protest continued and the peaceful revolution of “candles and prayer” spread throughout East Germany. By the end of 1989 change had come, the Berlin Wall had fallen, a nation was being reformed.
The fall of the Berlin Wall is often discussed in terms of political, economic, and military pressure. However, the lesser known story of the Leipzig prayer meetings, meeting in a Lutheran church, is one of faithful witness. A weekly gathering for prayer, dedicated to non-violence, had become a reformation movement that ultimately helped change the world. The state police were ready for everything they said, “except candles and prayer.”
Too often our Lutheran reformation heritage focus solely on the events 500 years ago in Wittenberg. Yet throughout this time our Lutheran heritage of faith has led many to bold acts of witness. May 27-June 6, 2024 my spouse, the Rev. Dr. Kendra Mohn (Trinity-Fort Worth), and I will be leading a group to explore that heritage of witness. In so doing inviting ourselves to consider where we are called to be witnesses to the world of our faith in Jesus Christ. We will travel to the historic sites of Martin and Katie, but also to places of witness by people like Bach, Bonhoeffer, Melanchthon, and the Leipzig peace Christians. We also will take time to never forget and witness sites of human cruelty and violence, including the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Ultimately engaging these places as they are today and meeting the people, hearing from them about their stories, and enjoying German hospitality.
This will be a unique opportunity to engage in the work of Witnessing Heritage. Information can be found at this link TLL24 NTNL Trinity Germany Trip 2024 The trip is intended for lay and rostered leaders. I would encourage congregations to consider supporting their rostered or authorized leaders in participating in this trip as continuing education. Some scholarship funds will be made available for rostered or authorized leaders who have not had the opportunity to visit Germany and the Lutheran heritage sites before. Please contact me at BpGronberg@ntnl.org for that information.