Our Saviour, Wartburg

Embracing Diversity Through Language

A Journey Towards Inclusion: The Birth of English Services at Kirchdorf

Parish Pastor
Wartburg, KZN
Andreas Albers studied theology globally, was ordained in 2019, and now serves at Our Saviour congregation in Wartburg.

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“Do you only have German services? Is it not possible to also hold an English service? These were the questions that were carried into the parsonage. The request was for Kirchdorf to hold English services, that they too could understand and attend. It seemed so impossible to do anything about this request since the Kirchdorf congregation was so big and demanded all the pastor’s time.

After the funeral of Martin Wortmann, Waldo and Dieter Köhne on the 5th October 1994, a funeral attended by many in the area, the request was again repeated concerning a service in English, in Kirchdorf.

At the meeting of the Church Council of the Congregation of Christ, Kirchdorf held on the 24th of January 1995, this request was taken up. During the discussion that followed it was mentioned, that in the past English services had already been offered, once a month in the evening. These services finally came to an end since the then English speaking members of Kirchdorf did not support the services. It was also discussed how starting such a service could be motivated since there were no English speaking members in Kirchdorf at the time.

After a lengthy discussion on what to do, it was decided to make a proposal to the AGM of the Congregation to seek permission from the congregation to make a survey and see what the interest and need for such a service were in our area.

The following proposal was formulated by the Church Council:

“The congregation is asked to deliberate on and make a decision that a survey is made of Wartburg and the surrounding area, to see if there are people in the area who are unchurched.”

Motivation: The congregation might have an assignment and a possibility in this area.

(For the original German see minutes: 24/1/95; 6.e)

The Proposal was submitted to the AGM held on the 4th of February 1995. After a lengthy debate, it was stated that if such a survey is conducted, then all the Ministers in the area concerned should be informed of our intention. It should also be clearly stated, that this was only a survey and that we just wanted to find out if people belonged to a church, and if there was interest in us starting an English service. The official resolution minuted reads as follows:

“Survey, church-mindedness of people in the village, adopted with 1 objection”

(For original German see minutes 4.2.95;

The matter of the survey was again taken up at the Church Council Meeting of the 21 February 1995. Here the minutes read:

Survey of Church Affiliation: This matter must be perused and suitable persons are to be asked to help.”(4)

Members of Kirchdorf were asked to help with the survey.

At the meeting of the Church Council of the 24.3.1995, it was minuted, that Pastor S. Köhne had asked members to help, had met with them and discussed the intended survey. The matter was to be perused further after Easter. (3)

And again from the minutes of the 25 April 1995, we read, that the 9th of May 1995 at 19.00 had been set as the date for the Church Elders to meet with those willing to help with the survey.

On the evening of the 9th May the following people met with the Church Council: Shelly Habermann, Werner Hillermann, Helmut + Irmgard Köhne, Karl + Ursula Köhne, Meira Köhne, Eckard Lucht, Werner Lucht, Ingmar Meister, Stefan Ringelmann, Petra Wiesinger.

Werner Lucht had provided a list with street names and names of residents of Wartburg. As they worked through the lists, those of whom the team knew, that they belonged to and were active in a church were removed from the lists. Then the different members of the team, excluding Church Council members, received their streets and names of residents on whom they were asked to call in person.

The questionnaire was finalized and a statement of who we, that is, Kirchdorf and FELSISA are, was finalized and approved.

All ministers of the different churches in the area were informed of our intention to make a survey, and they approved.

It was now time for fervent prayer, in private and also in the service, for those members undertaking the task of the survey.

On the evening of Monday, the 15th May 1995 the team met for consultation and deliberation. And on Monday evening 29th May 1995, they met again with the results. The experience was overwhelming. Only one member had met with a strong negative statement. The others were received kindly and with respect. At the close of the evening, the team was convinced, that we had to start with a service and that as soon as possible.

The survey conducted in Wartburg and among some people of the Jaagbaan Village(Noordsberg) showed interest of 85 adults with whom went 37 children to be either unchurched or church-affiliated but not active. It was said, that even if 80% were only polite in saying, that they would like us to hold an English service, then we still had a big opportunity to start some real mission work.

These results were presented to the Church Council at their meeting on the 6 June 1995. It was decided to bring this before the congregation. (2.i)

On Trinity Sunday 11 June 1995, the first gift of R200.00 was received in the Thank-offering at Kirchdorf designated: “Englische Gemeinde” (English Congregation).

At a Congregational Meeting called for the 12th of June 1995, the survey results were presented to the meeting. Because of the interest shown by the community, it was decided in principle, that we should start with English services as soon as possible. Time, place and Pastor still had to be decided on.(7.2)

At the next meeting of the Church Council, 20 June 1995, it was discussed how best to start with the English service. Tentatively, Pastor Helmuth Eggers, who had agreed to help us at least for one year, would start the services. A suitable venue had to be found.

In the meantime, the empty office buildings on the farm “Hindenburg” were offered to the congregation by Mr. Egon Eggers, the owner of the farm, as a venue for the service. At its meeting of the 25th of July 1995, the Church Council resolved that the matter of the English congregation and services should again be brought before the congregation on the 7th of August 1995. Two options as the venue should be considered. Either the rooms on the farm “Hindenburg”, or the instruction room beneath the hall.

At the congregational meeting held on the 7th of August 1995 a document, drawn up by the Church Council, was presented to the congregation concerning the forming of an English congregation. This document was accepted as presented with one abstention. At this meeting, it was decided that the venue for the services should be the farm “Hindenburg”.

It was now the duty of the Church Council to see to it, that the venue on “Hindenburg” was made acceptable for the service. Toilets had to be built and existing buildings had to be renovated to be used as Sunday School rooms.

In the meantime, it was decided, that the survey team should invite all the people who had shown an interest in the service, to a meeting in the fellowship hall at Kirchdorf on Sunday the 20th of August in the afternoon at 15.00, for fellowship over tea, coffee and cake. Those present at this meeting were informed, that the services would not take place in the Kirchdorf church, because the German congregation used the church from 8.00 to 13.00 on festive days. The content of the document concerning the English congregation was also made known to them. This opportunity was also used to ask those present about their expectations and wishes, especially concerning the time when the service should begin. Asked when the services would begin, the hope was expressed, that it would be in the next month.

The meeting was attended by 7 English speaking people from Wartburg. Present were: Angus+Jenny McBean (Children: Kate + Sarah); Alex+Karin Pont(John, William, Mark); Joy Franz; Gertrud Kelly; Peter+Nicky Wepener; Walther+Dorothy Meyer; Hellene Peckham.

During this time, the Church Council also looked at different venues that could be used for the service since the cost to upgrade the buildings on “Hindenburg” turned out to be very high. Two other possible venues arose: The dining room in the Wartburg-Kirchdorf Schülerheim(hostel), and the house of Mr. Gerhard R. Meyer, at 4 Dawn View Dr. (Church Council minutes 22 August 1995, 6)

These options were presented to the congregational meeting Kirchdorf, on the 28th of August 1995. The Congregation decided to rent the house in 4 Dawn View Drive since it met the needs to hold services there. This meant that the services could start immediately.

Notices were again sent out, mainly handed out by the survey team to all who had indicated their interest. The first service was to be held on the 17th of September 1995, (14th Sunday after Trinity) at 4 Dawn View Drive at 9.00.

Then came a blow! At the Church Council Meeting held on the 12th of September 1995, it was stated, that the Borough of Wartburg had not been able to give their approval for the use of the house for church services. What now? It was clear that we could not go back to our invitation. The time from the survey to now had been too long already. After long deliberation, it was decided that the services should start in the parsonage since this was Church property and did not fall under the Borough law.

For that evening, interested members from Kirchdorf had been invited to practice the English liturgy to assist in the English services. When Pastor S. Köhne mentioned the dilemma to the assembled group, present on the balcony of the Kirchdorf church, Mrs Sabine Meyer spontaneously offered the use of their house, situated at the end of Dawn View Drive, but outside the Borough area, until such time as permission had been received for the 4 Dawn View venue. Again God had opened a door and showed us that HE is still in control.

With great love and concern Conrad and Sabine Meyer opened their house and their hearts to us. The lounge was prepared for the first service. Would anyone come?

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