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AMERICAN CHURCH IN BERLIN

SEPTEMBER 2020 NEWSLETTER

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PASTOR'S MESSAGE

Dear ACB Members and Friends,

Grace and Peace to you from our God who is with us always, who keeps us humored and will never let us go!
Heading into unchartered waters yet being guided by the experiences of the last 24 weeks of successful, creative and energizing online worship services, we are excited to begin gathering again in person for worship.  Plan A is to worship outdoors, God willing, for the month of September beginning on the 6th at 11am for one joint worship service.  (Plan B is indoors).
This Celebrate Sunday we are honoring kids, teachers and administrators returning to school as well as adults at work and play. Kids of all ages, please bring your backpacks for a BACKPACK BLESSING and a surprise.  Adults will also receive a BACKPACK BLESSING so grab your backpacks and see you in church.  We will have a super fun, grand family reunion together, meeting face to face and heart to heart. 
We will thank Ric Carpenter, our beloved departing office manager, and welcome Kim Purvis, who just arrived from NYC, as our new office manager.  We will be saying Auf Wiedersehen to ACB members Ellen and Al Smith who have served faithfully in Russia for many years as Presbyterian missionaries and are moving back to the states.  All this calls for coffee and cake after worship, with physical distancing.  Please come and invite others!
We recognize that our church gatherings are not going to look like they used to for some time.  We will need to adapt to our new situation, but even so, it will be a huge blessing to gather as a church family and worship together in the flesh.  God is Good!
Thanks to Kumar for organizing Open Church volunteers since May and thanks to all you who volunteered to usher, make music, lead worship and all the gestures that beautify our space.  Special thanks to Johan for his steady presence and skills running the sound board.  We couldn’t hear or see without you!
Highlight:  Final Jazz Evensong, this Friday, 8.30pm.  Enjoy an evening out with stunning music and spiritual reflection followed by thanking Uwe and musicians and a fete (party).  Join in!    
Special thanks to Denise Banks-Grasedyck and Tom Wyvill who inspired us to Walk the Talk during July and August by confronting issues of racism and our responsibility to act for justice.  Stay tuned for a new initiative beginning Sunday, 13 September organized by Tom.
Despite all this stimulating summer activity, as a result of the virus, our giving has been significantly down, bank transfers have been steady and our spending is down to bare bones necessity.  Thank you for your time, talents and financial generosity.
During this time of disruption and unknowing, I have been drawn to the many God questions – where is God calling us?  How has God guided us and been faithful to us?  What does God long for in my life, yours and ours?  Even though we don’t have all the answers, we can live into the questions as we give our best to walk in the way of Jesus and serve our neighbors.  I have found that when we begin with God questions, we have a clearer understanding of our church questions.
I close with Saint Augustine’s Evening Prayer which we use to end each Jazz evening:
Lord, you created us, and our heart is restless, until it rests in you.
Yours is the light of the day.
Yours is the darkness of the night.
Life and death are yours.  I am yours and I pray to you.
Let me sleep in peace, bless the coming day,
And let me awaken to glorify you.
 
In the faith that anchors us through a precarious time,
Pastor Mari

 

DEACON'S MESSAGE


God has a Plan for You!
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 
Jeremiah 29:11-13.NKJV
 
The words of Jeremiah 29:11 were spoken to people in the midst of hardship and suffering; people who were likely desiring an immediate rescue like the one Hananiah lied about. But God’s response is not to provide immediate escape from the difficult situation. Rather, God promises that He has a plan to prosper them in the midst of their current situation.
We’re all encouraged by a leader who stirs us to move ahead; someone who believes we can do the task God has given and who will be with us all the way. God is that kind of leader. He knows the future, and his plans for us are good and full of hope. As long as God, who knows the future, provides our agenda and goes with us as we fulfill his mission, we can have boundless hope. This does not mean that we will be spared pain, suffering, or hardship, but that God will see us through to a glorious conclusion.
Christians facing difficult situations today can take comfort in Jeremiah 29:11 knowing that it is not a promise to immediately rescue us from hardship or suffering, but rather a promise that God has a plan for our lives and regardless of our current situation, God can work through it to prosper us and give us a hope and a future.
According to God’s wise plan, his people were to have hope and a future: Consequently they could call upon him in confidence. Although the exiles were in a difficult place and time, they didn't despair because they had God’s presence, the privilege of prayer, and God’s grace. God can be found when we seek him wholeheartedly. Neither strange lands, sorrows, frustration, nor physical problems can break that communion.
I encourage the members and the friends of the American Church in Berlin to join the prayer time each Sunday after the worship service. We have seen and experienced the power of prayer and we moved mountains.
 
Fridays Bible study will start from 4th September between 11 to 12:30 at the church. Following are the topics to discuss;
  • The joy of suffering
  • The joy of serving
  • The joy of believing
  • The joy of giving.
Please join with us to pray for Omar, who is preparing for baptism.
 
We thank God for the service of our departing office manager Ric Carpenter and welcoming of our new office manager Kim Purvis.

Deacon Kumar

IN-PERSON WORSHIP RESUMES
6 SEPTEMBER 2020

 

For the months of September and October, the Worship and Music Team, Pastoral Team, and Church Council have agreed to hold one in-person service at 11am each Sunday.  In September, these services will be held outside in front of the church, as long as the weather is nice.  In the event of rain, the service will move indoors.  To protect ourselves from coronavirus, we will wear masks and maintain a distance of 1.5 meters from each other.  There will be less singing than in a typical ACB service and communion will be served in individual cups.  Even with these precautions, we understand that some people aren't comfortable coming back to church yet.  For this reason, we will try to livestream the in-person services on our youtube channel.  Thank you for bearing with us as we adjust to this new style of worship.

BACK TO SCHOOL
BLESSING OF THE BACKPACKS

Welcome Back!  It will be a joy to see many of you again as we resume services and make our way carefully and gradually back to ACB. 

On September 6, as part of our in-person worship service, there will be a back-to-school Backpack Blessing as part of the Worship Service. Students will receive a backpack blessing along with a bag tag. So be sure to bring your backpack!

 
Kids of the Spirit Sunday School, however, will not take place in person for the time being. Instead, the Sunday School teachers will once again be providing video lessons and materials for the children.  A direct link to the latest and past lessons put together by the different teachers will be sent to you every week so you can enjoy them with your little and not-so-little ones as often as you like. While we would love to jump right in with in-person classes, your well-being as well as that of the staff comes first. Reentry in the Sunday School space will therefore still take some time. We will continue to keep you informed as the situation develops.

COUNCIL  UPDATE

Dear Friends of ACB,
Council Update for the Newsletter:
 
  • We are pleased to announce the safe arrival of our newly appointed Office Manager, Kim Purvis, and we thank God for a seemingly uneventful passage through to Berlin.
  • We are sad to announce the departure of Church Council member and former president Al Smith, who with his wife Ellen will be returning to the USA on 7th September. We will miss them greatly. 
  •  
  • A task force has been established to review and update ACB's Vereinssatzung.
  • The Annual report has been completed and thanks to all those who contributed and a special thanks to Mariam F and Ric C for all their work on putting this colourful report together.
  •  
  • The Worship and Music Team is putting a lot of time into coordinating the auditions of applicants for the position of organist under the leadership of the new chair, Susanne Ritter.
  •  
  • For the months of September and October, in-person services will resume with corona hygiene restrictions and weather-permitting, will be held outside.
  •  
  • Our communications Flowchart has been developed and published.
  •  
  • A Leadership Workshop began the process of using a communication tool known as 'The Circle Way' to reach members of the congregation for feedback on how we are feeling about ACB in these trying times.
  •  
  • The next Congregational Meeting will be a combined Spring and Fall meeting in November.
  •  
  • A fun farewell for Ric C was enjoyed outside the Church on 29th August.
We keep you all in our prayers as we seek to serve with God's strength and guidance.
  •  
  • Merrilyn Groenewald
  • President

FARE THEE WELL

My dear fellow congregants,
I have said good-bye a lot in my life. I am not good at it.
As I bid a brief adieu to this fair city and congregation, I feel I owe it to all of you to share some thoughts and insights that I have gleaned over the last 26 months working at the heart of our church.
First and foremost, I have immensely enjoyed serving ACB. It has been a growing experience. I have come to know many of you and both your and our mutual needs in more detail than I ever imagined. I have laughed and, on occasion, cried: with you, for you, and because of you. The joint laughter now comes to an end. That saddens me. A bit.
I am not a man of many words – verbally. At least I like to think that. I mostly tend to make offhand comments that may not always appear to be immediately helpful to the situation at hand; I tend to see the humor in the very moment. It may simply be my ego, but I consider my levity one of the greatest blessings God has given me. And I have been given many. I do not apologize for my blessings. I try to be aware of them. I could count them, and you would probably only grow bored or angry.
 
Although I am not a man of many words, I do have some words for you, ACB. There is much to do and consider at ACB. Those I find most compelling and most pressing are:
  • The Vereinssatzung – we are a community of faith and that is our essence, but giving Caesar his due, we are a legal entity as well, defined by our Vereinssatzung (Articles of Incorporation). These are currently being revised and in urgent need of such. ACB, you must support the group that is undertaking this awesome task; consider the proposals they make, pray about them, ask critical questions, but also consider the possibility that they, too, have also given your concerns consideration and decided to address them in the manner expressed by their work.
  • The Luther Church – this is our church building. It is not ACB! We are so much more than a building. It is, however, of the utmost importance that we be aware of what this building means to our congregation and our faith. It demands our attention, because it demands our finances. It costs us roughly €100,000 each and every year and at a very minimum €45,000, even if we don’t use it. We are not absolutely locked into the structure, but we are the owners and we have to accept that responsibility with clarity. We may, and we should, dream, but we cannot sustain delusions. There are possibilities for making it a venue more conducive to the 21st century community it is embedded in, but they will call for creative thinking and the grace of God.
    The kingdoms – ACB has many fiefdoms. These have been the source of much consternation for me as the head of administration. There are probably few in the congregation who enjoy politics as much as I, but that might be because I think of myself as an empathetic elephant, hulking, slow-moving, thick-skinned, and caring (the analogy works for me). As an administrator, I have done my best to be neutral and conciliatory amongst the many factions of any given issue, but it has not always been easy. If there is one bit of advice I would offer to ACB in general and all of us individually, it would be “Let go! Let God!” Take ownership of your task, but know that God has a plan none of us can even faintly imagine. Ask yourself, repeatedly and often, how much of what I wish to accomplish is for God and my neighbor? How much is for my ego?
The kingdom of Christ is eternal and ethereal. Are not all of our efforts minuscule in comparison? Give your utmost and best. Know it will never be enough; know that God loves you anyway. And “Let go!”
 
Grace,
Ric

 

ACB MOURNS THE PASSING OF PETER KUNSMANN

From Elke Leutiger, P. Kunsmann's daughter
Saturday evening, on August 15, my father, Peter Kunsmann, passed away quietly and peacefully, accompanied by several close family members who bade him farewell with a song as he took his final breath. My father loved music and he loved his family. And he was a steadfast believer. Right at the end of his earthly life here with all of us, he was blessed with the presence of music and his family. What a gracious gift! I am very thankful that he was allowed this beautiful transition. In the early eighties, my father, my brother, Michael, and I became members of the American Church in Berlin. Shortly before, my mother had passed away. I think the regular Sunday services, as well as the warm-hearted and friendly congregation, eased the path of my father’s mourning. And he continued to attend church for the four decades to come, singing in the church choir, baking chocolate chip cookies for coffee hour, and even walking me down the aisle when the church still congregated in the Dorfkirche in Zehlendorf. After many years of coping with leukemia, my father eventually was unable to keep up his regular visits to church. He was simply getting weaker. All of his life he had worked very hard. He was blessed with seemingly inexhaustible energy and a love for life. Born into a German working-class family with six children, my father decided early that he wanted to become a teacher. Since money was tight after the Second World War, getting a higher education in Germany was difficult. My father tried his luck in the US and worked his way up to becoming a professor for English Linguistics. At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he met my Mother, Suhasini, who had come from India to study microbiology, and both decided to start a family in Berlin, where he began his career as a professor at the Free University Berlin. Sometimes life takes a turn which hits you by complete surprise. My mother’s death at a very young age was one of those turns. Yet throughout the years as a single parent, my father maintained his love for life, his modest and friendly character and his caring and supportive nature. He remained steadfast in his faith and he was always there for me as a father - and later as a grandfather for my own children - unconditionally and with a deep love and understanding for what I, his daughter, am and needed. I am happy and grateful that life took another unexpected, yet quite favorable turn for him when he met his second wife, Ursula, some twenty years ago. Together with her he experienced what I would like to call a “second spring”. With Ursula by his side, my father continued his unwavering, yet humble and contented walk through life. I will miss him very dearly!



 

ACB BIRTHDAYS IN SEPTEMBER

ACB IN ACTION

VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH

Karin von Rosen

Karin has been a consistent and active member of ACB since the early 90s; always receptive to God's callings in service. Over the years she has been a member and chair of various committees; Christian Ed, Witness & Outreach, served multiple times on the Council, Council Exec and as President. She has been intricately involved with initiatives like the Kids of the Spirit Sunday School, Street Fair, Worship Cafés and more recently reigniting the Learning Café and steering the volunteer team for the Jazz Evensong Services. Her passion for the music ministry is reflected in her enthusiastic and regular participation in the Chamber Choir, Contemporary Choir and Gospel Choir in the past as well as the Praise Band weekly at the Gospel Praise services and the Online Service Hymn Singers during the Corona closure. 
So, ACB thanks you, Karin, for your willingness to be ready to serve faithfully wherever God's Call leads you with an open, joyful and resilient heart. Grace and Blessings

MISSION UPDATE

New ACB Missions from 2021
 

The Missions Committee would like to remind the Congregation that the deadline for proposing new Missions to be supported by ACB in 2021 is September 30th 2020. If you would like to propose a new Mission, please fill in the form below and send it to the Church Office by September 30th. In October, the Committee will select the Missions to be supported by ACB, and in November the selected Missions will be informed.

If you are interested to join the Missions Committee and participate in this selection process, or have any questions, please contact Ivan Ndip
(ndipivan@hotmail.com) or Beulla Vasanth (beullavasanth@hotmail.com) for more information.

 

 

Ivan Ndip
Missions Chair

COMMUNICATION MODEL

KIM PURVIS HAS ARRIVED!

Kimberly (Kim) Purvis


God be praised, my trip to Berlin was uneventful.  Blessings to all and thank you for welcoming me so warmly to Berlin!  Because of the visa, Passport Controlle in Frankfurt let me through without asking many questions.  And my two cats also made the trip with two flights and clearance through customs.  I so look forward to meeting the congregation and to supporting you as you carry out the mission of ACB.  My next personal challenges are obtaining my "Anmeldebestätigung" very soon, as my furniture will be arriving on a cargo ship on 17 September and that document is required to clear customs.  I am also seeking a house to rent, preferably in one of the suburbs outside Berlin.  I humbly seek your prayers that God help me quickly learn the office procedures so that Ric can move on to this next phase of his life, as the ex-office manager for ACB.  I would also be most grateful for prayers regarding my paperwork and the housing situation.  Grace to us all as we experience God's love in a challenging time.
 

LADIES, LATTES AND LAGERS

Ladies, Lattes and Lagers will meet every Wednesday in September at 18:30 in front of the Luther Church.  In case of bad weather, the meeting will be via Zoom.  For an invitation please email acbladies@americanchurchberlin.de.

ACB  ONLINE

Trying to keep track of ACB's online offerings?

Here's what June looks like:
1. Worship Services: Available on
our youtube channel every Sunday starting at 8am. These videos are also accessible from ACB's website at the same time.
2. Weekly Prayer Gems: Available on
ACB's website, Pastor Mari has been sharing prayer resources every weekend.
 
This Friday is the grande finale for this wonderful series of jazz concerts we have hosted throughout the summer. Thanks to our own Uwe Steinmetz for organizing this wonderful event with so many renowned artists. We are already looking forward to next year.
$ & €

In this time of necessary physical distancing, please remember that the church still needs your financial stewardship to continue functioning.
Please DONATE ONLINE to sustain our community through this challenging time.

There are many ways for you to give:
We kindly want to inform you that if you wish to donate via PayPal this option is now available here and on our website. You can get there by clicking on the following button:

Thank you for prayerfully and generously making your financial pledge.
Please consider giving via Bank Transfer (Dauerauftrag).
Complete your Bank Transfer with the following information:
To/An: American Church in Berlin e.V.
IBAN: DE71 1004 0000 0261 2919 00
Purpose/Verwendungszweck: General Operating Fund

Every gift matters.

Tell your friends, and family, and everyone!!!!
When you register at AmazonSmile and set the American Church in Berlin as your charity, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the proceeds to the American Church! It costs you nothing to do good.
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Our mailing address is:
Leberstr. 7
10829 Berlin-Schoeneberg. phone: (
+49 30) 813 20 21
church office: office@americanchurchberlin.de
pastor: pastor@americanchurchberlin.de
www.americanchurchberlin.de

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American Church in Berlin · Leberstr. 7 · Berlin 10829 · Germany

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