Partnership Offers Advent Devotional in English, German



United Methodists in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Germany have published their 2015 Advent Devotional in English and German, which can be downloaded and copied.  Advent begins on Nov. 29.

"The partnership, formed in 1988 before the fall of the Berlin Wall, has been producing the Advent devotional annually since the late '90's,  said the Rev. Joe Stains, who chairs the Western PA partnership group. "It has always been a daily devotional running from the beginning of Advent through New Year's Day, composed by laity and clergy members of our two conferences, and available for reading in both English and German. We have worked to make it more accessible over the years, so that now it can be downloaded for printing in local churches, or simply accessed by individuals for their personal devotions.

"The devotional is a great resource for settling our hearts in preparation for Christmas, and for doing so in tandem with United Methodist Christians in a different, yet kindred part of our world."

During Advent this year, WPAUMC Partnership members are encouraging individuals and congregations to receive a special offering or find other ways to provide financial support to East German Partners who are ministering to thousands of Syrian refugees seeking asylum in their towns. 

"This is probably one of the greatest humanitarian crises and opportunities for Christian ministry in our lifetime and Christians need urgently to respond. The partnership we have with the Eastern Germans puts us in a unique position to make a huge difference in this enterprise," Stains said.  

Among the contributors to the 2015 Advent devotional are Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of Germany and Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of Western PA. 

The partnership between the United Methodist Church’s Western PA Conference and the East German Conference was formed by Bishops George Bashore and Ruediger Minor, both now retired, and has resulted in numerous exchange visits by musical groups, work teams, youth and local church members, as well as formation of joint Volunteers in Mission teams that have traveled to Russia and Latin America to do projects. In addition to the Conference to Conference Partnership, Mt. Lebanon UMC has a sister relationship with with the Evangelical United Methodist Church in Zwickau.
Stains said that in the early years of the partnership members relied on a few letters between church leaders because letters had to be sent through security.
“There was no e-mail, scarcely any chance to talk by phone,” he said. “Only prayers were instant in reaching their destinations. We did not know what God wanted to do with our fledgling partnership--intended at first to give moral support and mission outreach to Christians living behind that wall." When the Berlin Wall was opened, he added, it suddenly seemed as if all the rules would change and they waited for God to teach them what the new ways were.

Today email and social media provide regular means of communication and the joint mission trips offer opportunities to strengthen relationships. 


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