German Churches Helping Detroit Youth Camp Program

Post a Comment » Written on June 29th, 2009     
Filed under: News
STUTTGART, GERMANY (June 29, 2009) – Three German churches raised $16,000 through special offerings and are sending the money to Hope Community Covenant Church in Detroit so that it can fund a summer neighborhood youth program.

Without the money, the congregation, which started Kids Summer Adventure last year, would not have been able to continue this summer or at least would have had to scale it back, says Ernie Browne, who oversees the project.

Members of the German churches viewed the offerings as an opportunity to give back to one of the congregations that had helped them, says Matthias Meier, pastor of the FeG Stuttgart congregations.

NeighborhoodDetroit area Covenant Churches have helped the 75-year-old Stuttgart congregation plant two daughter churches, one each in Renningen and Rems-Murr.

In 2005, Christ Community Church began exploring the idea of planting the churches overseas because a number of Germans who came to Detroit to work in the auto industry had made commitments to Christ and then returned to the auto companies in Stuttgart. Christ Covenant was planted in 2002 with the help of Faith Covenant Church. Many of the people from Faith Covenant who formed the core group were from Germany. In time, their friends also came to the church.

“Even for a church as FeG Stuttgart that has quite some experience with church plantings – two of these projects (Renningen and Rems-Murr) at the same time were too much for many of us to think of,” says Meier.

The relationship between the Detroit congregations and the German churches has deepened as members and leaders traded visits. A group from Detroit traveled to the World Cup soccer championship in 2006 to help the German church minister to the massive influx of people from around the world. Click here to read about that visit.

Several German pastors traveled to Detroit in 2008 to learn more about church planting and ways to reach out to the community. While here, they helped with the Kids Summer Adventure and engaged other ministries.

“For us, these encounters were opportunities to look ‘over the fence’ as we say in Germany. It helped us to re-focus on what’s really important,” Meier says. “To see the passion for Christ our brothers and sisters exemplified through their life was an important challenge for us – to question our view (of) our church and the people around us.”

Fun FestMatthias says he and other pastors were “shocked” when they recently heard about the toll the economic crisis was having on the Detroit congregations. The German Christians asked immediately how they could help.

“It was clear that it’s our turn now,” Matthias says.

Jody Eidnes, the Great Lakes Conference office administrator, submitted a list of ideas, and the German churches chose to help Hope Covenant.

The three German churches took a special offering and initially raised $10,000, which was more than leaders expected. The money kept coming over the following days until donations reached $16,000.

“Actually, the leadership team in Stuttgart had expected that we will be able to wire a significant amount of money to support these projects,” Matthias says. “However, when we saw the aggregated numbers after a few weeks and several announcements, we were almost speechless.”

Only a few weeks before, the Stuttgart congregation was discussing whether they could afford to hire additional personnel, Matthias says. “We are thankful for the support we received and for the possibility to express our thankfulness for what we received from our brothers and sisters in the Detroit area,” Matthias says.

“We’re just very, very grateful for what they have done for us,” says Browne.

Click here to learn more about the camp.

The relationship will deepen even further when another group from the Great Lakes Conference travels to Stuttgart for two weeks in October. While plans still are being finalized, the first week will include helping put on a three-day youth camp.

Former Miss America Kirsten Haglund, a member of Faith Covenant Church in Farmington Hills, Michigan, will speak three times.

Editor’s note: The top photo shows the German guests interacting with neighborhood children who participated in a Fun Day Festival during the 2008 visit. The lower photo shows some of the German visitors going door-to-door in one neighborhood near Hope Covenant as part of an outreach experience during that same visit.

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