All the six supporting Churches of the Bremen Mission
celebrate Partnership Church Service on Trinity Sunday
with a common theme:
A good partnership must be nurtured and occasionally celebrated. That is life’s support for a union like the Bremen Mission who lives on two different continents. The Partnership Sunday is therefore proper to celebrate. It is to help us get an insight into the living conditions and the environmental conditions or other related conditions of the six member Churches.
It takes place on the Sunday after Pentecost and offers the opportunity to learn more about the everyday life of others and to read the Bible putting ourselves in their place. Every Church appoints a person or a group that promptly compiles and delivers the materials to the congregations on time so that the same mode of worship is followed in the Churches with regards to biblical texts, theme and liturgy.
A successful example of the celebration of such a Partnership Sunday was 6th June (Trinity) 2004. The theme for the participating congregations was "A violent free Conflict Resolution" – a theme that in Germany does not revolve on the Churches alone but on the whole society. In Africa, this theme would be taken up by the Churches and organizations and the society as a whole.
What type of preparations goes into the celebration of Partnership Day? Who ‘makes’ it? What happens in the congregations XY? Karl Drüge, a retired Pastor and a former board member of the Bremen Mission from Bad Salzuflen.
Any new thing in German Churches needs time to take off. It is therefore not surprising that some Church boards this year hesitated to take part – especially when some congregations already have their own partnership traditions and have planned their own events.
In the first place, they all praised the excellent preparatory material from the pen of German and African authors who are put together every year by the Bremen Mission. They presented a package of sermon proposals, Texts for meditations and reflections, songs and prayer proposals.
The theme is of pressing importance currently and concerns us all: "Violence impedes human development. The solution to conflicts calls for a renewal of our own lives". We have lived through times when violence was the order of the day: in the Near East, in Africa and also in Europe.
The Church service on Partnership Day should bring us to our senses, it should encourage us to listen to God’s word anew, to chart peaceful ways and in this way find orientation and assistance on "how we Christians can contribute to the culture of peace".
From Fedderwardergroden to Lomé
The hand out on Partnership Church Service offers a good example of how individual Christians or congregations in Germany and Africa can work hand in hand to advance the cause of peace and reconciliation.
Dr. Cyril Fayose, a guest from Ghana, in his lecture mentioned how "individual conflicts and power struggles can prevent the creation of peace in the world. It is only when the Church sweeps her own front door clean that she would be in the position to talk to others about cleanliness".
The day started in full swing in small and big places like, Cappel in Lippe, Oldenburg, Altengroden and Fedderwardergroden in East Friesland as well as in the Bentheim country (Grafschaft) – and of course in Bremen as well, the seat of the Bremen Mission.
Music played a great role. There were information regarding the theme peace in the four German and the two African Evangelical Churches from Togo and Ghana.
From Lomé, Pastor Luther Degbovi reported in a letter to the Bremen Mission the following:
After the festive but solemn opening Church Service on the Monday after Penticton, a human rights congress was held a week later in the Protestant College which attracted many prominent people and lecturers/speakers who spoke on the theme: "Women’s Rights in Traditional Inheritance Rights".
Thereafter, there was a prayer session for the six partners in the Bremen Mission as well as the other churches linked to the Bemen Mission. There was also a cultural festival involving eight choirs, dance groups, performances by actors/actresses. The week was crowned with an official Partnership Church Service on Trinity Sunday, which was well attended, one which can be described as great.
On this Trinity Sunday, in Fedderwardergroden or in Rautendorf, Africa was once again so near as Bremen and Oldenburg were in Lomé. The feeling to be united with people in Togo and Ghana (and the other way round in North Germany) in faith and in practical things has urged on many participants to lend their support to the Bremen Mission in their work to hold the Member Churches together.
These positive practical experiences have in a way advertised themselves: more and more congregations in the previous years have joined in the celebrations on Partnership Sunday and have engaged themselves with the current themes from German and African perspectives.