News from across the North Sea from Revd Preb Terry Bloor, curator of our diocesan link with the Nordkirche in northern Germany:
This year's annual 'Anticipating Advent' meeting for our partnership with the Nordirche took place between 30 November and 4 December; it was centred around the wonderful city of Schwerin which is the administrative capital of Mecklenburg.
It was good to meet with old friends from the partnership and to meet new ones too as we engaged with a programme carefully and thoughtfully put together for us. The whole experience was grounded within the distinctive, festive atmosphere which envelops Germany during Advent. This special feeling permeates the secular as well as the Christian world in a much more a tangible way than in the UK.
Our specific programme included a visit to the nearby town of Hagenow, its church and synogue where we heard much of the history which has created the present local, relationships and culture.
Having visited Schwerin many times, I was surprised to discover a museum based in a former prison built during the Third Reich and subsequently used by the Stasi (State Security Service) during the Communist era. The tour was fascinating if not somewhat disturbing as we heard more of the local history.
On the Saturday evening we enjoyed a special, bilingual service in Schwerin cathedral during which its choir sang beautifully, despite the sub-zero temperature. The vast majority of (older) churches in Mecklenburg are unheated! Some have small winter chapels which are heated during the coldest months of the year. We were thrilled to have been joined for this service by Bishop Tilman Jeremias, the Bishop of Mecklenburg and Vorpommern, who kindly entertained us with dinner afterwards. Thankfully, the cathedral had its own heated, winter chapel which made the Sunday morning worship much more comfortable.
By way of Christmas markets, well, you are quite spoiled for choice. This year, we visited Lübeck, where the falling snow added to the experience. Lübeck is famous for its marzipan and no opportunity is lost during Advent to promote its sale and consumption.
We were a relatively small group of visitors this year comprising Bishop Sarah and Peter Bullock, Chrissi Thompson (of Biddulph) and myself. This was my 19th Anticipating Advent, experiences of which I never tire. Next year, it will be our turn to this event somewhere within our diocese. Ideas are already being formulated, so please watch this space.
If you would like to know more about the Nordkircke partnership, please don't hesitate to contact Terry Bloor, Debbie Loughran or Graham Adamson.
Schwerin Schloß (castle) lit up during a snowy dusk