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Free Church – Baptist, Pforzheim, Germany
Worshipper: Cross Eyed Bear.
Gemeinde – Baptisten, Pforzheim, Germany.
of Evangelical Free Churches in Germany.
An unassuming building in the typical 1950s concrete style that
so characterises Pforzheim, tucked between other buildings.
There was a lovely display board done up in autumnal colours
outside the church advertising some of the church events.
Pastor Günter-Helmrich Lotz took over the helm in August 2011,
following a year of the church being without a pastor. They
pride themselves on "needs-based" group activities
for youth of all ages, young adults, seniors, etc., which are
detailed on their website (if you read German).
Pforzheim is in southwest Germany at the gateway to the Black
Forest. Since the 18th century it has been known for its jewelry
and watchmaking industries. These were converted to precision
instrument making during World War II, thus singling out Pforzheim
as a prime target for Allied bombing. Almost seven-eighths of
the town's buildings were leveled during carpet bombing campaigns.
The town has gradually been rebuilt, giving it quite a modern
if unremarkable look. To this day, unexploded bombs are occasionally
discovered in excavations for new shopping centres and the like.
In 1888, Bertha Benz, wife of Carl Benz, drove an automobile
made by her husband from Mannheim to Pforzheim, a distance of
about 96 km (60 miles), using a hairpin to make emergency repairs
along the way. Her feat is thought to be the first long-distance
journey ever undertaken in a gasoline-powered vehicle.
Pastor Günter-Helmrich Lotz preached and read the notices.
The date & time:
Sunday, 6 November 2011, 10.00am.
What was the name of the
Gottesdienst mit Abendmahl (Service with Holy Communion).
How full was the building?
Half full, with probably around 100 people present. A relatively
wide age range was represented, although the greater majority
were toward the top of the scale.
Did anyone welcome you
Did anyone not welcome us personally? The first welcome
was a handshake from a man in a smart suit standing by the door.
An older gentleman also in suit handed us a hymnbook.
We were smiled at by many other regular worshippers, who lost
no opportunity in getting into conversation with us.
Was your pew comfortable?
Standard padded wooden chair with plenty of space and leg room.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
It was a very pleasant, expectant atmosphere, with the majority
of congregants already in their places five minutes before the
start. There was some muted conversation, but nothing awkward
or overly conspicuous. A slide show was playing of the children
who had recently attended one of their new projects Zwergengarten
(little ones' garden) an afternoon's activities for children.
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
"I warmly welcome you to this communion service, which
we may celebrate in the name of the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit" (said in German).
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
Hymn book was the German Free Church classic Feiern und
Loben (Praise and Worship), with three songs (from the
same book) projected onto a wall. The weekly Bible reading was
from a relatively modern translation, whereas the sermon text
was taken from the Luther version of the Bible (some similarities
to KJV). Some people had their own Bibles with them; many just
What musical instruments
A lady played an upright piano somewhat in the style of how
comedian Les Dawson used to play his conscientiously
but with the occasional hideously wrong note thrown in! A gentleman
in a checked shirt played acoustic guitar to accompany some
of the songs.
Did anything distract
Mr Bear noticed someone sitting behind us studiously yet inconspicuously
trying to unwrap a sweet. He also noticed a sign language interpreter
in the front row. Mrs Bear noticed neither of the above, but
was pleasantly surprised by the communion bread being Hefezopf
(a sweet braided loaf, similar to brioche). Neither of
us was seriously distracted.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
On the whole, the worship was middle of the road, although there
was a real sense of trying to be everything to everyone. Communion
was split into two groups, with a single chalice being offered
to one side of the sanctuary and single "shot glasses" being
offered to the other, with people sitting on the sides they
preferred. This is a well-known discussion topic in German churches.
The music also seemed to be similarly affected, with some songs
accompanied on the upright piano and sung from books and three
others from the 90s being projected onto the wall and accompanied
on a guitar, despite coming from the standard hymn book. Some
of the elder members of the congregation didn't sing during
the "worship block". Whether this was because they disapproved,
because they didn't know the songs, or because they couldn't
see the words clearly enough wasn't obvious. Having been a member
of two churches that have been through this change in music/worship
style with varying degrees of success, Mrs Bear is particularly
sensitive to this and hopes that this obviously close congregation
is able to draw on its reserves of acceptance and wisdom to
deal with it. Mr Bear doesn't notice such things and was quite
satisfied with the "average" worship.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
8 Pastor Lotz spoke clearly and well, involving the congregation
and illustrating the sermon with humour and rather honest illustrations!
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
Pastor Lotz took Ephesians 5:25-27 ("Husbands, love your
wives, just as Christ loved the church") as his text. Rather
than the obvious interpretation of this text, he focused on
the fact that the Church is addressed as a unit. Despite our
individualistic society, in a church everyone's contribution
is important. Being active for and within the church allows
us to draw closer to God, allowing him to shine through despite
the "spots and wrinkles" that may be obvious to others, ourselves,
and other members of the congregation.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
The full and genuine welcome.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
After being so warmly welcomed, I felt like a real traitor putting
the Mystery Worship calling card in the collection plate!
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
The coffee hour was shorter than usual, as the members then
had a church meeting, but we decided to try looking lost and
lonely anyway! After 30 seconds a young lady came up to us,
got into conversation, and answered our many questions about
the church warmly and politely. Once she had gone in to the
meeting, a second lady came to us, introduced herself, and had
a similar conversation with us. By this time, the church meeting
was already starting, but there was still time for a third lady
to welcome us, have a shorter conversation with us and invite
us to the church lunch at a local restaurant!
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
Large portions, nice mugs, freshly brewed none of this
powdered instant rubbish. It's not often I can manage a whole
cup of church coffee. Mr Bear was disappointed at the lack of
biscuits, but enjoyed his tea.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 Mrs Bear is already a satisfied member of another local
church, where Mr Bear also enjoys attending. It was a pleasure
to share with these fellow Christians for one Sunday. We may
well pop back one day, despite probably having blown our cover!
Did the service make you
feel glad to be a Christian?
Mrs Bear Yes. Mr Bear goes because Mrs Bear does,
but was happy enough.
What one thing will you
remember about all this in seven days' time?
The warmth, the sermon, and particularly the middle testimony
given by the church members-to-be.
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