Berlin Exchange Visits / 20 Years Across the Sea

This year we are celebrating 22 years of our parish link with the Ev.Kirchengemeinde am Weinberg, Berlin. We put on a celebration lunch at St Luke's Church, Millwall (a new building which the Berliners had been involved in at every turn and twist of its planning) 75 people came, 25 from our link parish, many from among our friends who had started or supported the exchange, local councillors, Dr. Ralf Teepe from the German Embassy and the Bishops of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and Dr Joanne Grenfall, the new Bishop of Stepney. Speeches were made which remembered the early years of the exchange and some of the most memorable moments - the trip to the Seafarers' Centre, comparing how we do youth work, helping to transfer a wooden floor, block by block  church, so that later it could be laid in place. Dr Christine Schlund and Fr. Tom Pyke spoke about the present and the future scope of the exchange, about the sense that we shared a common field of ministry and mission, even if the places that we worked as churches were far apart geographically; still there was a sense of accountability to each other and an interest in each other's work. To close the event the Bishop of Stepney contrasted the closeness of the partnership with the division that we see in so many places today, and she prayed for God's blessing on what had been and what was to come.