Germany 13 July: Iron Curtain Muzeum Rozvadov (CZ) - Ecumenical Highway Church Waidhaus (D)
Invitation to Highway Church Waidhaus Ceremony
Einladung Festgottesdienst Autobahnkirche Waidhaus
The highway church of Waidhaus, 3,8 km from the Czech border, had invited the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run to be part of a special service on July 13th 2019, celebrating its 15th anniversary as an ecumanical church, open to all faiths and religions. We took the opportunity to first visit the Iron Curtain Muzeum in Rozvadov on the Czech side of the border and run from there, connecting Czech Republic and Germany - 30 years after the Iron Curtain opened and the Berlin Wall came down!
"Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding" - Albert Einstein
At the Iron Curtain Muzeum we were shown into the special room with symbols of all major religions on the wall and a portrait of Albert Einstein with the quote above, and a very special table, on which a new START treaty to reduce nuclear weapons had been signed in Prague in April 2010 between US President Barack Obama and then Presient of Russia Dimitri Medvedev.
My parents escaped to the West before the Berlin Wall came up, and as a child I used to visit my greatgrandfather in the German Democratic Republic a couple of times, crossing the "Iron Curtain". So all this was something very real to me.
Seeing these photos and items of quite recent history really makes you feel grateful for how things have changed - even if it is still a long way to a truely peaceful world. But it gives hope that more positive change is possible!
Runners are happy to put in some real running and to symbolically connect the museum and the church across the former "Iron" border.
Representatives from catholic, protestant and free churches ((Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine/ Moravian Church), as well as from Greek orthodox, Jewish and Muslim communities were invited to offer a short talk and prayers.
Vasanti Niemz, Peace Run representative from Heidelberg, introduces the Peace Run and invites everyone to hold the Peace Torch and offer a silent prayer for peace.
Imam Khedr from Weiden holding the torch. Initially we were asked not to light the torch inside the church.
Gunhild Stempel, who had invited the Peace Run Team, clearly enjoys holding and passing the flaming Torch.
First Mayor of Waidhaus Margit Kirzinger immediately jumped at the invitation to take a few steps with the Peace Torch and absolutely seemed to enjoy the running and carrying the torch!
Pastor and catholic priest Georg Hartl (76), who lead the ceremony, revealed that he goes for a run 2 times a week or so. And he happily carried the Peace Torch for a couple of steps.
Gunhild Stempel receives the Peace Run Certificate for the Waidhaus Ecumenical Church from Pragya Gerig, Peace Run representative from Nurnberg, along with our team`s gratitude for being included in this uplifting and inspiring ceremony!
Group foto for the local daily "Der Neue Tag / Onetz.de" by Josef Forster. Thank you for the nice foto and article in: www.onetz.de/oberpfalz/waidhaus/rastplatz-seele-id2787853.html
One highlight of the Ecumenical Service was "The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation", which is prayed every weekday in Coventry Cathedral (GB), where the Peace Run had visited in 2018 (https://www.peacerun.org/gb/news/2018/0913/3239/) and Gunhild Stempel met the Peace Run and was inspired to invite the team to Waidhaus church.
The Coventry prayer was followed by a blessing of the ecumenical community of IONA, Scotland.
THE COVENTRY LITANY OF RECONCILIATION:
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class, FATHER FORGIVE
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own, FATHER FORGIVE
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth, FATHER FORGIVE
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others, FATHER FORGIVE
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee, FATHER FORGIVE
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children, FATHER FORGIVE
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God, FATHER FORGIVE
Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
We offered the following prayer by Peace Run founder Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007), which then was sung by the whole audience. Pastor Hartl had kindly distributed the music before the service started.
"O dreamers of peace, come. Let us walk together. O lovers of peace, come. Let us run together. O servers of peace, come. Let us grow together." - Sri Chinmoy