Read The Bridge Summer 2008 text version

Summer 2008

President's Message . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 AFCU Development Committee . . .2 Annual Meeting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Heritage Society & Planned Giving .3 New Senior Pastor ACP . . . . . . . . . .3 Assignment Conclusion . . . . . . . . . .3 Senior Pastor Installation . . . . . . . . .4

In This Issue

Berlin Connection

I Am Going Fishing . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 ACB Street Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Augsburg in Berlin? . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 EKD & ELCA Sign Agreement . . . .7

Vienna Connection Paris Connection

Greetings from Pastor Randy . . . . . .7 The VCC Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 ACP Memories - Pastor Alex . . . . .8 Musical Notes from Fred . . . . . . . .10 Thank You, Laurana . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Paris Is Blooming! . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 WOAC Strawberry Tea . . . . . . . . .11 Other Important Info. . . . . . . . . . . .12

The AFCU Search committee did a fantastic job this past year in finding Alex Aronis as Interim Senior Pastor for ACP and Scott Herr as the Senior Pastor for ACP. (Please read Chairman Don Eppert's Search Committee report in another section of the Bridge.) Alex did an excellent job throughout the course of his year in Paris. Highlights included directing the anniversary celebration and guiding an effective ACP search committee for the Senior Pastor position. Alex's last day was June 16 while Scott and his family arrived on July 1. The Board received an invitation from the VCC to host the next annual AFCU Board meeting. The Board voted to have the 2009 AFCU Board meeting on April 18 - 20, 2009 in Vienna, Austria. In keeping with our collective efforts to pursue our mission and maintain the focus of our stated vision, I would like to present the following activities

This year's annual meeting of the AFCU Board of Directors was held on April 14th in Austin, TX. One of the functions performed by the AFCU Board at each annual meeting is the nomination and approval of new Board members and Officers. Four new members were elected to the Board this year - Karen Halac, Geoff Lu, David Moore and William Sewell. The Officers nominated and approved for the year 2008 are Gregg Foster (President), Jerry Burns (Vice President), Bob DeLuryea (Secretary) and Dick Bright (Treasurer). This year the Board received and accepted the resignations of Jim and Marilyn Ault, Homer Bentley and Norm Findley.


reported in this year's meeting that relate to specific points in our Vision Statement:

Financial Support to Sustain the Churches ACP completed a successful capital campaign (Faith into Action) that raised $3.65 million in committed pledges over a 5 year period. Projects that have been completed or are underway include the restoration of the gymnasium, the sanctuary, the cleaning of the organ, the new screen installed behind the altar, the new speakers in the sanctuary, the reupholstering of the balcony benches and the new concierge apartment on the 4th floor. The Board responded with a one-time grant of 13,500 Euros to a request from ACP for the immediate restoration for the staff position of pastor's secretary.

Charles Lindholm reported on his work with his own Glenville, NY Rotary club along with the Berlin Rotary club to raise enough monies to apply for a Rotary Foundation matching grant. Together, $45,000 was raised to buy a van to support the ministries of the ACB, especially the "Laib und Seele" (Body and Soul) project to collect food to be distributed to the poor in the community that surrounds the church.

Growth of International Churches Alex Aronis approached the ACP Council to start a 1pm contemporary service to serve the growing number of people asking for such a service. It was started in January of this year. The Sunday afternoon contemporary service averaged 100 attendees in January, 110 in February with 250 on Easter Sunday. It is felt that this serv-

Published for Friends of the American Churches in Paris and Berlin, and Vienna Community Church

ice could have 300-400 people in a couple of years. The 11:00 a.m. service remains well-attended and the earlier 9:00 a.m. service continues to serve a relatively small but dedicated number of people. Exchange of Cultures Denise Banks-Grasedyck stated that in the fall will be a new initiative at ACB - Interfaith Dialogue. It will bring together other Christian churches and the Muslim community to discuss what we all believe about God. It will focus on God and not about faith differences.

(ELCA). The attendance turn-out was excellent as 37 people were at the meeting. This year we covered the church specific meetings during the morning of our development meeting which eliminated the requirement for members to attend an extra day of meetings. This seemed to work out successfully and saved everyone travel expenses. All board members donate their personal time and travel expenses on behalf of the AFCU and our member churches. New members, Karen Halac, David Moore and Geoff Lu were welcomed and introduced as was Scott Herr, the pastor elect of the American Church in Paris. Bill Sewell, a new board member was unable to attend the meeting. We also were privileged to recognize the pastors of the three member churches in Europe, as well as guests in attendance.

James Craig has worked for the American Church in Berlin with mission outreach. The result is a significant bonding between the home church here in the US and ACB. This has resulted in some meaningful contributions made by incorporating this approach into other local churches of AFCU board members. The next AFCU Development meeting will be held in Atlanta, GA on Saturday, October 18, 2008.

Rev. Randy Mundt spoke about his first year at the VCC and shared some insights of life in Vienna. The Cultivating Theme at the church is Many Cultures-One Faith. This captures the makeup of the church as 35 countries are represented in the congregation. A Leaders Life and Purpose program is being launched at ACP. Supported by McDonald foundation at an amount of $100,000 over 5 years, it will outreach to Christian business leaders and professionals. It is designed to provide an environment to hear inspirational talks and stimulate conversation. The next session will be this October. They hope to have about 100 participants. In closing I want to highlight some of this year's action plans by AFCU committees that will continue to focus on bringing life to our stated vision ­ renewed energy and a new direction on grants and foundations to augment our financial support to sustain the churches, new programs to extend our outreach and our recognition of friends and alumni, expansion of the Home Church Initiative to bring a more personal touch for cultural interchange between local churches in the U.S. and the AFCU partner churches. I also want to encourage all our friends and alumni to join with Board members in seeking new resources and sustaining existing commitments to support our member churches whose ministries bear witness to Jesus Christ.

The presentation of the AFCU Development Committee Organization and Policy Document formed the basis for the meeting and generated good discussion. Major topics were covered such as how we reach out to our friends of the AFCU and how we recognize our donors. Dick Bright, AFCU Treasurer, reported on giving which is down for the year and that created some concern and disappointment. He also reported that the audit of our books was completed. The AFCU website receives an average of 20-25 hits per day as reported by web master, Bob DeLuryea. Work has begun to increase contact between our member churches which should result in stronger identity for the AFCU.

The Annual Meetings of the AFCU were held from Saturday April 12 until Monday April 14 in Austin, Texas. Hosted by Russ and Carol McNaughton, all the meetings were held at the Sheppard of the Hills Lutheran Church. Committee meetings such as the Development Committee, Finance Committee, Berlin Committee, Vienna Committee and Executive Committee were held on Saturday and Sunday and the Annual Meeting of the AFCU was held on Monday. Twenty-five of the thirty board members were present at the annual meeting. Four new members were elected to the board at the beginning of the meeting. They were Karen Halac, Geoff Lu, David Moore, and William Sewell. Karen, Geoff, and David have spent time at the American Church in Paris while William has participated at the Vienna Community Church. Officers of the AFCU will remain the same for the upcoming year.

Other highlights of the meeting included:


Russell McNaughton

It was recognized that a transition from paper mail to electronic distribution of "The Bridge" must be aggressively pursued and this will save us approximately $3000.00 per year. This is like receiving a major donation from a donor in like amount for our churches. We ask for your cooperation in this move.

The spring meeting of the AFCU Development Committee was held on April 12, 2008 in Austin, Texas at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church


Gregg Foster, AFCU President

After a discussion, it was decided to send out DVDs featuring the American Church in Paris' 150th Anniversary events to approximately 160 donors of ACP. The mailing completed approximately June 15.

· The approval of a document which describes guidelines and expectations of board members. This document will give potential and new board members information and insights about board membership. · In speaking about the Vienna Community Church, Rev. Randy Mundt reported on his first year there. During the past year the VCC celebrated its 50th anniversary. Also, Rev Mundt has become the first VCC recognized pastor by the Ministry of Religion in the Austrian government. This was a major accomplishment. · Speaking of behalf of the American Church in Berlin, Pastor Ben Colvet

The Vienna Community Church alums will receive more personal contact from the AFCU when scheduled new initiatives are put in place. The Home Church Initiative led by


stated that Spiritual Outreach Ministry of the Congregation is the most significant motivator for the members of the ACB. Charles Lindholm also reported that he worked with his own Glenville, NY Rotary club along with the Berlin Rotary club to raise enough monies to apply for a Rotary Foundation matching grant.

endowment funds. A secondary mission is to work with the Development Leaders of our member churches to communicate with the congregations about planned giving opportunities that will help sustain their ministries over the long term.

Fellowship activities were well arranged by Russ and Carol McNaughton. On Saturday evening, they hosted a reception at their beautiful home in Austin. On Sunday evening we all went to a Texas style barbeque at an outdoor location south of Austin. All of us on the AFCU sincerely appreciate the effort of Russ and Carol to make our meetings and activities in Austin very worthwhile.

· Dick Bright, Treasurer, reported that assets were up from $3,885,766 at the end of 2006 to $4,073,590 at the end of 2007. Also, Faith into Action grants of $226,000 were given to the ACP in 2007 to support their many capital improvements.

· Alex Aronis, Interim Senior Minister at the American Church in Paris, showed part of the DVD which summarized the 150th anniversary weekend at the ACP. He also stated the ACP's delight in the selection of Scott Herr and his wife, Kim. Scott received unanimous consent of congregation. Scott will start his activities in Paris on July 1. Scott was also able to attend the AFCU meetings where he met the board members and learned about the functions of the AFCU.

Together, $45,000 was raised to buy a van to support the ministries of the ACB, especially the "Laib und Seele" (Body and Soul) project to collect food to be distributed to the needy in the neighborhoods that surround the church. "Laib und Seele" is truly one of the unique ministries of the ACB.

You can review the numerous opportunities for planned giving that have been covered in previous issues of "The Bridge". You can see them by going to our AFCU web site at and examine thirteen of the most recent issues of "The Bridge" going back four years. The AFCU has a 501 (c) 3 status with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a not-for-profit charitable organization. Keep in mind that in all cases it is important to obtain the help of a legal or accounting professional when setting up your giving program.

We are pleased with the progress that is being made on behalf of all three churches. The total number of Heritage Society members as of this date is 51. We have added 4 new members since May 12, 2007. The total amount of specific commitments from our members exceeds $ 2,160,000.00. The greatest opportunity we have to increase our endowment to support the member churches is through planned giving. We encourage you to explore your options to join this group as you visit your estate planning objectives. If you have recently changed your estate plans and have not notified us, please contact us so that we can update our records.

week after Scott Herr and his wife, Kim visited ACP later that month, the congregation unanimously elected him as their new Senior Pastor.

Pastor Herr earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Seminary and a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Seminary. His international pastorates include The Union Church of Mexico City (1990-93) and The International Protestant Church of Zurich (1993-1999.) His most recent assignment was Senior Associate Pastor; The First Presbyterian Church, Ft. Collins, CO (1999 to present.)

In addition to Kim, the Herr family includes: Daniel, age 14; Christopher, age 12; Rebecca, age 11 and Matthew, age 6. The family arrived in Paris on July1 and will spend the month getting oriented and acclimated. Don Eppert, AFCU Search Committee Chair

[email protected]

If we can be of any assistance, please contact us at Russell McNaughton, Heritage Society

The mission of the Heritage Society Champion is to communicate to the alumni of the AFCU member churches the planned giving opportunities that will help sustain the ministries of those churches through the building of our


Robert DeLuryea, AFCU Secretary

The American Church in Paris has selected the Rev. Dr. R. Scott Herr as its new Senior Pastor effective August 1, 2008. After 150 responses to summer 2007 advertisements in denominational publications and reviewing 75 applicants, the search committees of the AFCU and ACP narrowed the choice to five finalists. Five representatives from the two search committees traveled to Ft. Collins, CO in March 2008 and met with Pastor Herr and his family and heard him preach. One



CORRECTION: The list of donors on page 3 of the Spring 2008 Bridge. The donation is from Mr. and Mrs. Charles Beach, not Jane L. Beach. The AFCU regrets the error and wishes to express our thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Beach. Editor

It is with great appreciation and respect that the AFCU and ACP recognize the Rev. Dr. Alex Aronis and his wife Carol for their many contributions during Pastor Aronis' one year assignment as Interim Senior Pastor. In addition to his engaging preaching, Rev. Aronis oversaw the sanctuary renovations, coordinated the 150th anniversary worship service celebration and initiated the con-


temporary worship service. Alex and Carol exemplified the love of Christ, encouraged sharing and understanding within the congregation and helped prepare for the next Senior Pastor. Don Eppert, AFCU Search Committee chair

Berlin Connection

The Rev. Dr. R. Scott Herr will be installed as Senior Pastor of the American Church in Paris on Sunday, September 21, 2008. The Rev. Richard McDermott, Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins, CO, will participate in the service by giving the charge to Pastor Herr and the ACP congregation. The Rev. Richard Davis, Senior Pastor of the International Protestant Church in Zurich, Switzerland, will give the sermon.

Installation of Senior Pastor

Pastors and spouses from the American Church in Berlin and the Vienna Community Church will be invited, as well as members of the AICEMEA. Paris dignitaries and members of the AFCU Board will attend, along with friends and colleagues from the US. If you are planning to be in Paris in September please join the ACP in this wonderful celebration.

These are not the words of John Doe on a lazy summer afternoon as he leaves the house for the lake. These are the words of Simon Peter following the roller coaster ride of the crucifixion and death of Jesus recorded in Matthew 21. The disciples had been following this man, Jesus, for three years. They had given up everything. And now he was dead ­ crucified as a criminal. "What are you going to do now Peter?" The response: "I am going fishing!" The other disciples shrugged their shoulders and said, "We will go with you." And so they returned to their boats on the Sea of Tiberias to do what they knew best. And yet, their fishing was to no avail! They caught nothing! They couldn't even make it as fishermen! Things have really turned sour!


"Cast your net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." They did just that ­ and the nets filled to overflowing. Then they came on shore and Jesus fed them breakfast! Every Sunday morning the doors of Luther Church, which for five years were locked shut, are now open and people from all over the world walk through them. It is a stunning witness to the community around Luther Church. The doors remain open as the people come into the presence of God singing, praying, hearing the Word, and sharing in the Sacraments. But this is not an exclusive club. The presence of Jesus prods us to leave this sanctuary, fed by his presence to touch the lives of people we live with, work with, and yes, even people who may be our enemy. We are reminded that every person is precious and important to God and therefore each person is precious and important to us.

Sometimes we at ACB feel like the disciples. We are excited about the ministry and mission of ACB in Dennewitzplatz. And then there is another setback. We reflect, pray, plan, hope and decide to "go fishing" again! And we seem to catch nothing! But the story of the disciples doesn't end with an empty net! On the shore Jesus calls,

Why does ACB exist? Simply but profoundly we are called to be an ecumenical home for people from diverse nations sharing God's love in Jesus Christ. We at ACB do not lack for


Experiencing this love of God we are sent out into the world of Dennewitzplatz, Schöneberg and Berlin being his servants. Therefore we invest against all odds in signing for ownership of the Luther Church, the Learning Café, Laib und Seele, Street Fair, Counseling Services, musical excellence, Bible studies, Kids of the Spirit, Outreach and Cultural Exchange Program (OCEP), Islamic and Jewish communication, daily prayers, neighborhood "recreation" and discipleship training.

challenges! For me, challenges are those empty nets that have the potential of being filled when we listen to the voice of the Lord Jesus as he calls us to throw the net on the other side of the boat. But even more than that, when we do throw the nets on the other side of the boat after a frustrating night of fishing, he invites us to come to shore and receive the gift of fellowship with him in eating and drinking the meal he has prepared. And in the eating and drinking we meet Jesus ­ the one who calls us to be his servant disciples casting our nets on the "right side" of the boat. And in that obedience, miracles of forgiveness, love, grace, hope and reconciliation happen! Thank you "ACB'ers" for your faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we move forward, let us be open to the voice of Jesus on the shore - "Cast your net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." Blessings, Pastor Ben Coltvet

In 2002 ACB moved from the Alte Dorfkirche in Berlin-Zehlendorf to the Luther Church on Dennewitzpaltz in Berlin-Schöneberg. We moved from a well-situated Berlin suburb into an area that is distinguished by immigrants, very much with a Muslim background. There were doubts and expectations about how we would be accepted by an area that seemed so different from what we were used to, and how our congregation would develop its life on Dennewitzplatz.


ACB is an international congregation: Members come from all parts in the world, 35 different countries are represented in our midst. We have in common that we all believe in Jesus Christ and share our faith together in the English language. People with many different cultural and denominational backgrounds worship each Sunday together at ACB. One of the characteristics of our congregation is diversity and tolerance. One day on his way home after our Laib & Seele Friday evening food distribution, our Pastor Ben was invited in by a shop owner around the corner for tea. The host was a man with a Muslim background. They had a friendly conversation and after a while the man asked Pastor Ben why ACB had chosen to go to Dennewitzplatz, an area that is predominantly Muslim. Pastor Ben answered that the American Church in Berlin is on Dennewitzplatz to build bridges and not walls.

Saturday of May, which was a very hot day with 32°C / 90°F in the shade. Already the night before, Kumar Vasanth and a few helpers from the Laib & Seele team were out mowing the lawns in the evening heat. At 9 a.m. on the 31st the first helpers began cleaning up the grounds, transporting outdoor stage platforms (generously donated by Dr. Steve Heppner of the JFKS) and setting up tents for the different booths with the temperatures already climbing. Nobody really seemed impressed by the weather; people were too busy preparing their booths. Many of these early helpers stayed the entire day to insure a smooth running day.

who sang Broadway Musicals such as "Summertime" and "New York, New York" on the outside stage for all of the neighborhood to enjoy.

At 1 p.m. Karin von Rosen, the organizer of the ACB Street Fair, and "Master of Ceremonies" Alan Benson, opened the special afternoon with a warm welcome in English and German and an invitation to participate and enjoy that special time together. A diverse program with international dancers and musical/singing ensembles filled the neighborhood with joyful tunes and colorful dances both outside and inside the church: The Kurdish dancing group "KOMA DILAN" opened the musical program. Women in traditional colorful Kurdish costumes danced different stories. They were followed with ACB's own Suzuki Violin Studio recitalists under the direction of Margit Coltvet. Five children from our congregation, aged from 5 to 8 years, delighted guests and ACB'ers alike with their fiddle tunes. Then the "Women in Black" (WIB) appeared; ten ladies all dressed in black with shiny blue scarves. Performing as the newly formed parent-faculty Barbershop Quartet under the direction of Dr. Steve Heppner from the John F Kennedy School, they sang three traditional barbershop pieces in the front lobby of the church. Thereafter the Scottish Country Dance Society of Berlin fascinated spectators with traditional dances of Scotland inside the church lobby, inviting guests to join them out in front of the church afterwards for a public dance practice. In the later afternoon our ACB Contemporary Music Group, under the direction of Mike Beck, sang two sets of contemporary spiritual pieces accompanied by Mike on the guitar, Margit Coltvet on the keyboard and Heike Beck on percussion instruments. The grand finish for the day was a great performance by Patricia Holtzmann,


As is customary with street fairs there were a variety of other exciting activities going on parallel to these spectacular performances. The "Jump for Faith hoppy house" (or moon walk) was again a big attraction for all of the children. Great interest for the arts and crafts booth manned by Lilliana Mochmann and Sabine Grund was again evident, which was continually busy until the last minute of the Street Fair making necklaces, bead sculptures, painting pictures and faces and more. The games booth this year was organized by ACB's own youth and confirmation groups under the excellent leadership of Joanna Vasanth and DJ Sias and offered among other things bobbing apples, (a great refreshment in the heat of the day,) water balloon toss, egg-spoon races and box stacking. The Laib & Seele booth with Helmut, Ringo and Wolfgang across the way from the games tent informed visitors about the program, "food for people in need" which is provided every Friday in the Luther Church in cooperation with Berliner Tafel Laib & Seele project of Berlin. Also our ACB information booth staffed by Denise Grasedyck, Sayuri Johanus and Susanne Low offered a multitude of information and insight about diverse projects going on in ACB as well as associated organizations supported by members of our congregation. A "USA Voter Registration" booth staffed by our own Bill Downey offered US citizens a chance to prepare to vote in November.

In the meantime, that mission has grown stronger and stronger and is manifest in a lot of our projects. One of those outreach projects is the ACB Street Fair, which now takes place once a year in May. The first Street Fair was organized in 2004 as an intern project by our then Intern Pastor, Beth Brashear. The Street Fair was reintroduced and well received in 2007. The decision to sponsor an annual outreach opportunity in the form of the Street Fair was in response to the clear interest from the neighborhood for such a festival rather than summer children's camps which we had offered each summer dating back to the Dorfkirche days. Months before the Street Fair 2008 was to take place, we started the campaign to win volunteers for the big day. Many helping hands would be needed to prepare and organize the different aspects of this outreach project. The ACB Street Fair 2008 took place on the last

As in the last years, several flea market tables were lined up along the driveway with toys, clothes, kitchen stuff, shoes, books, tapes, and much more at bargain prices. Inside the church one could enjoy a cool refreshing breeze and our traditional "Savory Street" organized by Heike Beck and Ramona Pracejus. Many delicate dishes and cakes from different parts of the world, donated by the ACB family, were waiting to be

sampled. Our guests could also choose between various cold drinks and coffee. A small café area with tables and chairs invited visitors to stay inside the church to rest and cool down for a while from the outside heat.

Many people went to the Street Fair that day. All seemed to enjoy and appreciate that lovely afternoon. Some visitors of the ACB Street Fair had arrived even before the official beginning at 1 p.m. For example, three brothers from the neighborhood, Jonnis, Yassin and Omer, aged 9, 13 and 14 years, watched in excitement and even helped in the morning to build up tents. They had been informed of the ACB Street Fair by flyers in their mailbox (distributed three weeks earlier by Daphne Ratke), and saw the big banner hanging outside of the Luther Church. Their parents, from Palestine and Marokko, allowed them to go to the fair and to enjoy the afternoon. They explained that they are Muslims, but their parents like it a lot that the church is doing something, especially for the children in the neighborhood. Those three boys also reported that they were at the fair last year and had been looking forward to coming this year, too. The brothers told me a lot about themselves, i.e., how later on they want to become architects and medical doctors. Two other guests at the fair were relatives of members of the Kurdish Dance Group, Melek and Bahar, two young women, 16 and 19 years old. They joined the dance group very often and had really come without any particular expectations about the fair, just wanting to see what would happen and then staying for most of the afternoon.

and has enjoyed being part of building those bridges with the children in the neighborhood of Schöneberg as she chatted and shared while creating works of art under the shade of the trees in front of the Luther Church.

Two young men with a huge camera filmed the ACB Street Fair. They just drove past the church and saw that something was going on. Both young men were students of the SAE-Institute, a film institute in Berlin. They were looking for material to do their homework: a film; Impressions of Berlin.

About two years ago, Ben Coltvet came to Augsburg to inform members about several ministries of the American Church in Berlin, where he is the ELCA pastor. Resulting from our mid-90's two year stint in Paris, Kathie and I serve as members of a volunteer board of an organization that supports three churches in Europe: the American Church in Berlin, the American Church in Paris and the Vienna Community Church. The Berlin church has several community outreach programs and we became excited about the "Laib und Seele" (Bread and Soul) ministry. The church was renting a van each week to pick up the food. We requested support from the Hine fund, a benevolence fund, to help purchase a van for this program (and several other outreach programs). The Hine fund gift, along with others, including the Rotary Foundation, made it possible for the church to acquire the van. Below is a picture of the van with Augsburg's name on the side. Pastor Coltvet is leading a celebration and blessing of the van.

Another man from the neighborhood also just drove past the church and saw that something was going on. Then he drove back home and took his grandchildren to the fair to give them a good time and some fun. The man said that he has lived in the neighborhood since 15 years, but he had never noticed that there was anybody in that church. He bought some cake in the church and said that this was his first time inside and was impressed how beautiful it is. He himself is Muslim. He liked it that the church was organizing a street fair. He thinks that all the people "drive on the same road", believe in the same God, Christians or Muslim alike. The mission of the ACB Street Fair to build bridges with our neighborhood around Dennewitzplatz appears to be a success and a beginning. There have been more parents and grandparents of our neighborhood children this year at the Street Fair. The opinions of our neighbors and members of ACB about that afternoon were positive: The Street Fair was positively received and is accepted now, as also ACB appears to be accepted at Dennewitzplatz. Some of the bridges we wanted to build are already forming. People from so many different backgrounds come to visit and get to know us. They are open to us as we are open to them. The different religions don't seem to separate us, at least not on that afternoon. As one of our guests said: "In the end, we believe in the same God". Let's make the bridges we have built stronger and look forward to the ACB Street Fair in 2009.

A 10-year-old girl, Tungba, was at the fair from the beginning. She was informed about it by a flyer in her mailbox as well as the banner outside the church. She asked her mother if she could go to the Street Fair. Her mother had first said "no," because she would be too young to go on her own. But then she asked her big sister to join her. In the end, Tungba attended together with her mother, sister, and brother. She especially liked the face-painting at the arts and crafts booth.

The church's "Learning Café" provides a hot meal, German language training and tutoring for immigrant children in the community. ACB also has an outreach and cultural exchange program that coordinates US adult and youth mission trips to Berlin to assist the church in its community outreach ministry. Augsburg is indeed blessed to have a fund that helps "meets human needs as the Church thinks Jesus Christ Himself might have met them." We are also blessed to be in partnership with the American Church in Berlin. Don and Kathie Eppert

A member of ACB only since 2005, Lilliana had just heard about the Street Fair and stepped in to help manage the arts and crafts booth. She enjoyed doing it, she reported, because outreach programs like this make other people happy. Lilliana is from Houston, Texas

Why is there a new white van, with Augsburg Lutheran Church and logo stenciled on its side, collecting food in central Berlin for distribution to needy residents?



Claudia Lange, from the June ACB newsletter

(Editor's note: Augsburg Lutheran church, Winston-Salem, NC, is the home church of Board members Don and Kathie Eppert. This article is from Augsburg's newsletter, the Beacon, June 26, 2008.)

Chicago, USA ­ Top leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) signed an agreement on Sept. 24, 2007 that commits the churches to mutual exchange of information and provides assistance and care for English-speaking


Lutheran congregations in Germany and German speaking congregations in the United States. The agreement, effective Jan. 1, 2008, also provides for mutual exchange of pastors, (EKD) deacons, (ELCA) diaconal ministers and Christian education teachers.

Vienna Connection

ELCA Bishop Hanson noted that the agreement is actually a renewal of an agreement first made in 1991. The "framework" for the agreement is

shared altar and pulpit fellowship within the Lutheran World Federation. EKD Bishop Huber added that the agreement helps the ELCA and EKD work together for the next 10 years in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, which began Oct. 31, 1517, when Martin Luther, a German monk, nailed 95 theses to the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Young Adults Vienna Community Church has been blessed with a large number of young adults throughout the years. This spring was no exception, as we had at least 25 students from various countries come together for Sunday worship, twice a month home-cook meals (see: Gail Mundt), and midweek Bible Study. On any given Sunday, one-third (or more) of the congregation was young adults. We had the most amazing experience this semester getting to know these young adults! To have them join in worship during their time abroad, to hear their stories of faith and trials, to be invited into their lives during their brief time in Vienna has truly been a blessing and an honor.

Greetings from Pastor Randy Mundt and Vienna Community Church!

"Austin City Limits" On Sunday April 13 (and while in Austin for the AFCU meetings), I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Gethsemane Lutheran Church on the north side of Austin. Pastor Gronberg and his staff welcomed me to their beautiful church building, and their congregation allowed me to share about International Ministry. In both morning worship services and in the adult forum, I had the chance to share how we (in international congregations) are in many ways a continuation of their own ministry. We spiritually take care of business people when their jobs bring them abroad; or when a government employee is stationed overseas. We are here for young adults who study abroad for a semester or a year, and for those who are briefly visiting Vienna. When I say "briefly" I do mean briefly! This past Sunday we had a group of 8 young adults from Denver in the worship service. Amazingly, they were in Vienna only for a flight layover to Asia - and found their way to VCC to attend worship. What incredible witness it was to have them worship with us!

As I write this letter for the AFCU Bridge, I would like to highlight three events from spring 2008.

I used the well known term of "Austin City Limits" to point out that our Christian church has no physical limits when it comes to the world. One of the biggest surprises for many people that I spoke to in Austin (and elsewhere) is that International English speaking congregations exist at all. No doubt this is because we have not been easily identified until recently for many. Indeed, the internet has provided us an opportunity for many international congregations to be discovered by more and more people.

I shared with the folks at Gethsemane Lutheran that every week at Vienna Community Church, we gather with folks from well over 25 other countries to worship God. I like to say that every week is "Pentecost Sunday", because of the great diversity one encounters. It does not matter about one's ethnicity or one's denominational background. What truly matters in our Oneness in Jesus Christ. Our motto says it well: "Many Cultures; One Faith".

Pastors Randy Mundt and Karl Gronberg on theTV program: Austin Faith Dialogue

There is also a very important core group of Young Adults at VCC, which we hope will continually expand. This core group ranges from those who were raised at VCC to those who will be in Vienna a year or longer. Our Vision is that they will be the Leaders who will help jump start our ministry each semester to the many that come through "studying abroad".

If you know of a congregation that would like for me to visit, to preach and/or to tell the story of International Ministry, please let me know by emailing us at [email protected]


We invite you to view the "VCC Young Adults" page on to see the many pictures of Young Adults at the VCC manse and on their Romania trip. This leads me to the next topic:

Suzanne - Canada, Sophie - England, Jeff - Australia, Janet - America Enjoying fellowship in Vienna

Project Centipede Project Centipede is a ministry cosponsored by members of Vienna Community Church to minister to some of the poorest people in Romania. Each spring and fall, some six tons of food, schools supplies and clothing and even computers are taken to central Romania to help out several schools working with the poor and handicapped.

This past spring, nine of our young adults went on this Mission Trip to Eastern Europe, along with several adult members. They had an incredible experience, interacting with the Roma children. These kinds of events forever change one's life, as we encounter the needs of people who do not have the opportunity that most of us take for granted.

the spring of 2009 to host the AFCU yearly meeting in Vienna!

Project Centipede - Ben Silcox

For all of you, we ask you to remember us in the many ways God provides. Thank you in advance for your many blessings!

Over the past 18 years, over 45 "Project Centipede" trips have been made, helping out many children and families of central Romania. We appreciate not only the ministry that has taken place, but the opportunity to offer to our members and visitors the chance to go on a mission trip, while living and staying in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. As you can see, life at Vienna Community Church is quite busy and active. And we look eagerly forward to

Project Centipede - Jill Burgsma

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Vienna Community Church in 2007, Heinz and Louise Pickart have written a book that assembles the important details of the history of the VCC for the first time. It attempts to show how the development on the congregation, yesterday and today, is seen in society and describes the process of its becoming a Corporate Congregation of the Evangelical Church A.B. and H.B. in Austria with legal recognition. It also contains a brief history of Protestants in Austria and relevant information about the Reformed (H.B.) and Lutheran (A.B.) Churches in Austria. Over 500 pictures help to tell the story. We thank the American Church in Paris and the American Church in Berlin for the information about their churches,


In prayer and service, Pastor Randy Mundt

information that is of course included in this book.

The text is now being given a final proofreading as it is put into the format required for printing and if all goes well, it should be available in the late autumn.

To reserve your copy of "The Vienna Community Church ­ 50 years of ecumenical life in Vienna", contact the Pickarts at [email protected] Louise Pickart, VCC way, I remember your ministry in Manila." I commented, "Keep me in mind."

Paris Connection

I vividly remember speaking to Pastor Barry Dawson the week before he was due to depart. We "just happened" to be in Paris worshipping at ACP, when Carol spotted the announcement in the worship bulletin that this was the next to last Sunday for the Senior Pastor. We greeted Barry as we left the sanctuary and I asked, "Have you found an Interim yet?" He said, "Not yet. By the



Carol and I walked over to the Reception area, and Bill MacArthur tapped me on the shoulder, and said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation with the pastor. My wife, Luz, and I also served in the Philippines. Were you serious about the Interim Pastor position?" I said, "Sure." He said, "I'm on the AFCU Board." And I wondered, "Could all of this be a coincidence?" Within a few weeks, Don Eppert was in touch with me. What a man: gracious,

efficient, encouraging, forthright! Soon after Jerry and Pat Burns stopped by from Dayton, Ohio, to visit Carol and me in Cincinnati and to fill us in on the historic nature of the ACP. Following that we were interviewed by the Council search committee and we were able to arrive in Paris on June 19, 2007. This past year has been an exciting, challenging, and demanding adventure.

I want to fast forward to the farewell receptions and dinners that we were privileged to experience these past few weeks. We were extended gratitude and affection from the congregation as a whole and also from the Filipino and African Fellowships that went far beyond our expectations. We are extremely thankful for the warm and loving expressions of appreciation from this extraordinary congregation. There have been difficulties; who can deny that? But it has been our desire and intention to keep the congregation together, to help members understand and appreciate one another, to be kind to one another and to work together to fulfill the great goals of this main-line, Protestant interdenominational church. How joyously I will remember our worship services: the heartfelt singing of the hymns and praise songs, the attentiveness of the congregation to the sermons, the excellent quality of the anthems, solos, bell choir and youth choir contributions!

music leader for the new Contemporary Service, Natalie McConnell, without whom we could not have begun and sustained this additional opportunity for worship at ACP. My thoughts will also often go to the Executive Committee and the many long and important meetings we have had during the year. Geoff Lu and Misun are as godly a couple as I have met anywhere and it was a special privilege to serve with them. Our new moderator, Caroline Bouazouni, is a model of graciousness and diplomacy. The opportunity to receive guidance and support from Philip Woodburn, Alaphia Wright, and Deanna Brammer has meant a very great deal to me. The dedication and high competence of the committees has certainly been memorable. I think of the hours of involvement and the contribution of the many talents of Ben Aller, John Worthington, and Bill Johnston and the

written by our remarkably talented Christa Leste-Lasserre and featuring our star-studded cast of ACP, will be a lasting memory we will surely carry with us. How grateful I am, and I know that many of the members of our church join with me in expressing gratitude for the thoughtful and heavy involvement of Daniel Grout and Bill Johnston of the Property Committee!! Their dedication, attention to endless details, and willing spirits has made it possible for us to see so much accomplished in the renovation of the church. These two have truly been an inspiration to me! A Committee of great importance and one which I admired greatly was the Nominating Committee with chairperson Denise Dampierre and her able colleagues. As a result of their fine work and the willingness of our people, we have a very fine council for the 2008-2009 Calendar year which, I am sure, will provide excellent support for our new senior pastor, Scott Herr. This reminds me of another critical committee: the senior pastor search committee. I am grateful for the discernment and unity made possible by the very significant leadership of Peggy Smithhart. She and the entire committee along with the diligent AFCU search committee deserve great praise for their many hours of hard work and for bringing us an outstanding new senior pastor!

We have had a wonderful staff to help carry the load. I remember how the image of Susan Rice instantly flashed in my mind when I was asked whether I knew of anyone who could serve as our Interim Associate Pastor. Susan came without hesitation to assume a very demanding position, and she has performed in an outstanding manner sharing her many talents and her heart with the people of this church. I have also grown to love and appreciate our multi-gifted and warm-hearted Youth Pastor, Ginger Strickland, our wise and godly and hard-working Pastoral Assistants, Don Hamilton and his gracious wife, Nancy, and Ken Stenmann and Cil, our very talented and dedicated Music Director, Fred Gramann who keeps our staff meetings flowing with laughter and fun, and also our excellent and highly committed

The Committee that made possible our marvelous Commemorative Weekend celebrating our 150 Years worked long and hard to accomplish an extraordinary weekend of worship, celebration, fellowship, and fun. Special thanks and fond memories go to Marie Grout and her team. And who could possibly forget Robyn Teed who did so much of the work, but wanted no credit? The play, "Expecting the Unexpected,"


members of the "Faith into Action" Committee. Their efforts, the generous support of the members and friends of the AFCU and also the congregation of the ACP, enabled us to raise sufficient funds to renovate our sanctuary and church building, light the Spire--one of my special interests -- and refurbish the gymnasium and the church house, to the delight of many new rental clients.

I've admired the good work of Yoshiko Okubo and Liz Poux in Christian Education, Ingrid Wills with the amazing Bloom program and the WOAC, Christa Leste-Lasserre and Gigi Oyog with Communications and our new updated web site, Ursula Perrier with Social Concerns and the generous giving to charities, Marie Grout and her large committee bringing in new members through the Membership and Evangelism Committee, and Kerry Lieury with Congregational Nurture and the special social events they have provided.

Paula Taquet-Woolfolk has been a great help to many through the prayer chain ministry and the lending library; and her husband, Jean, has given of his professional knowledge, faithfully meeting with so many who are burdened with serious refugee concerns.

I have fond memories of my "Developing Intimacy with God" class and am quite amazed that the good group that began the series continues to attend and to interact with me and with one another during the class sessions.

On Sunday, September 28 there will an organ recital at 5 p.m. by noted French organist Pascal Marsault, who, as a student, practiced organ at ACP and rang in our adult handbell choir. Pascal won a 1st Prize in organ from the Paris conservatory and a diploma in musicology from the Faculté de Musicologie de Tours. Winner of several international organ competitions, he was appointed organ professor for the Conservatoire National de Régionde Toulon-ProvenceMéditerranée, and is organist of the Eglise St.-Ignace in Paris.

There have been many who have spent time with me in my office, sharing concerns, seeking prayer, and wanting honest interaction. I am grateful for each of these persons and feel honored that they sought my counsel and/or my response to their points of view. I conclude by thanking the African and Filipino Fellowships. Our hearts are especially attuned to these dear Christian friends. We thank them for their love, their hospitality, their desire to make us feel a part of them.

It has been a wonderful year: very busy, very challenging, but filled with many positive memories. We will keep you all in our hearts and in our prayers. We are proud of you and know that with Pastor Scott Herr at the helm, your best years are yet to come.

Celebration Over the weekend of September 27 and 28, and on Sunday, Oct. 5 we'll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the installation of our magnificent Beckerath pipe organ.

Atelier Concerts It may be hard to imagine but the Atelier Concert Series began in 1895, becoming part of the ACP cultural program when our new church was built on the quai d'Orsay. No, I haven't been part of it from the beginning but I have managed it for the last 32 years. Every Sunday at 5 p.m., from September through November and January through June, a free classical concert is offered to the community. The artists love it because all they have to do is perform while I take care of publicity, programs and all the other details. The audiences love it because the quality is very high and the concerts are free. The series is consistently booked at least 18 months down the road.


Pastor Alex B. Aronis

On Sunday, Oct. 5 at 5 p.m., American organist David Lamb will perform an organ recital, joined John Buckel for a special organ duet as part of the program. David is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Music where he studied the organ with Oswald Ragatz, Marilyn Keiser, Larry Smith, and Robert Rayfield, completing the Doctor of Music David K. Lamb degree in Organ and Church Music in 2000. He is currently the Director of Music and Organist for the First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Indiana. He has presented organ recitals throughout the US, Germany, Austria, and France, playing the historic Cavaille-Coll organs at the historic churches of St.Augustin and La Trinité in Paris. Fred Gramann, ACP Music Director

keyboard artist with extensive concert experience as a piano soloist and accompanist, having worked closely with some of the leading singers in the world. To top it off, all that talent was packaged in a truly warm and sincere person who could not have been easier to work with.

Laurana Mitchelmore

A native of Texas, Laurana studied music at the Juilliard School in New York and the Vienna Academy of Music in Austria. She began her career as an accompanist at the Veinna Community church, when she became the organ accompanist for the VCC choir and for the many soloists who sang and worshiped there. Last fall, she had a unique part in both the 50th anniversary of the VCC and 150th anniversary of the ACP. In the space of one week in November, she played first for the celebration concert in Vienna and then in Paris.

On Saturday evening, Sept. 27 there will be a concert featuring organ combined with instruments and voices, followed by a dessert reception.

Shortly after being called to serve as Music Director at the American Church back in 1976, I received a very special gift, the value of which I was to discover was more precious than gold. That unique gift was Laurana Mitchelmore, a newcomer to ACP at the same time as myself. After worship one Sunday she introduced herself to me, along with husband Charles, and offered to accompany the choir on piano or organ as needed. Not having an accompanist or assistant at the time to help me out, the offer was gladly accepted. I quickly learned that Laurana wasn't just any accompanist. She was an extraordinarily talented

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She has performed in the most highly regarded concert halls such as the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, the Palais Yusupov in St. Petersbourg, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and the Salle Gaveau in Paris. She has accompanied many artists, including stars of the Metropolitan Opera and the Vienna Staatsoper such as Arlene Auger, Frederica von Stade, William Blankenship, Johan Botha, Jean Cox, Ronald Hamilton, James King, John Shirley Quirk, Richard Stilwell and William Warfield. A graduate of the Texas Christian University School of Music in Fort Worth, Texas, Laurana returned there last April to give a performance with the legendary mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. The review in the Star-Telegram reported the following,

"Her (von Stade's) partner onstage was pianist Laurana Mitchelmore, a TCU graduate who shone as a co-star. Her touch was light and deft, never intrusive but always persuasive. She always found that delicate balance between supporting von Stade and staying out of her way." The TCU Daily Skiff quoted von Stade as saying, "One of the things that is so evident with Laurana is her amazing devotion to music. She is always just so happy, and it is evident in her music." At the close of the concert the director of the School of Music announced that this

Director Dounia Nouini who begins planning her 4th Bloom While You Work program.

Fred's amazing performance.

concert was the first in a series paid for by an endowment in Laurana's honor. The fund will make possible a yearly concert and a master class by a worldclass artist that focuses on accompaniment for collaborative music.

Director of the School of Music, Frederica von Stada, Laurana Mitchelmore

As a past Bloom Director and current WOAC President, there is one phrase I hear again and again in connection with the Bloom program: "Bloom saved my life." It echoes how I felt when I attended Bloom shortly after arriving three years ago. It is a great pleasure to continue to work on the Bloom programs and see the change in volunteers whom I recognize as past Bloom attendees. They, just as I did, have gone from helpless to wanting to help others, and for me, that is the measure Bloom's success.

As a result of the successful outcome of last year's schedule change to two consecutive days, Bloom will continue to be held on a Monday and Tuesday, with Bloom Work following on Saturday. Kathleen has implemented changes to the schedule so that all program participants will be brought together each afternoon for a final joint session with fabulous topics followed by a champagne reception on Monday and the usual Wine reception on Tuesday.

Our thanks to Gloria, Nicole & Fred for making the afternoon simply sublime. I would also like to thank everyone who helped so much to make this such a memorable event. And our thanks to Fred Gramann for sharing his photos. On behalf of the WOAC Board, I would like to thank Carol Aronis for her dedication and service as WOAC Advisor this past year. The WOAC has benefited greatly from Carol's involvement. The WOAC board welcomes two new board members, Kathy Jones, Special Events Coordinator and Kathleen Espinoza, Bloom Director, who has already begun working on putting together a great team and a great program.

Today, almost 32 years after our first rehearsal together, Laurana still graciously takes her place at the keyboard for choir practice each Wednesday evening and Sunday morning, sharing her superb talents with the many chorists and soloists who endeavor to share music that will lift and inspire our worship. I am one blessed Director of Music. Thank you, Laurana. Fred Gramann Director of Music, American Church in Paris

Paris is Blooming! Yes, and the WOAC is already working on the Fall Bloom programs. It seems we barely finish with the Spring programs when we need to start working on the Fall. Newly appointed Bloom Director Kathleen Espinoza is breathing new life into the program with great ideas and an enthusiastic group of Committee Chairs. We are blessed to have the experience of continuing


Earlier that day in the kitchen of Carol Aronis's apartment WOAC volunteers were cooking, baking, making sandwiches, melting chocolate. And having a great time. OK, there was some sampling too, but only for the sake of quality control!

If I were to start my reminiscences of the Strawberry Tea last month by saying the event ended with most of us in tears, the picture in your head would probably not be the one I have in mine. The tears were brought on by the amazing vocal talent of our musical guest, Nicole Taylor, accompanied by ACP Music Director Fred Gramann.


Ingrid Willis, WOAC President

For those of you who are headed back to your home country or headed on to your next posting, I hope you take with you great memories of your time in France. For those who are taking part of the annual exodus from Paris have a great holiday and I look forward to seeing at the Rentrée Salad lunch in September. Ingrid Wills, WOAC President (from the June WOAC newsletter)

The weather was just beautiful, and as guests arrived they were greeted by the beautiful music played by harpist Gloria Vasconcellos and a table loaded with flowers and food. There were sandwiches, scones with cream & jam, and strawberries piled next to a bowl full of warm dark chocolate sauce. After way too much food and tea we left our tables for the comfort of Carol's living room and Nicole &

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Photos by Fred Gramann

The American and Foreign Christian union (AFCU) supports the American Church in Paris (ACP), the American Church in Berlin (ACB), and the Vienna Community Church (VCC) through grants to help their programs. Gifts to the AFCU help to increase our support of these churches. Contributions may be sent to the American and Foreign Christian Union at AFCU, PO Box 1254, Summerfield, FL 34492. You may also make gifts to the individual churches. If you wish your gift to be tax deductible in the United States, you must make your dollar check payable to the AFCU at the above address. Put the words "for ACB or ACP or VCC" on the memo line of your check. Your continued support is greatly appreciated.


We have elected to implement a new post office box for donations, replacing the prior service at the Riverside Drive location in New York City. We had a few unfortunate instances of lost mail last year and determined to have total control within the AFCU Board of mailings to the Treasurer. The new address is: American & Foreign Christian Union PO Box 1254 Summerfield, FL 34492

NEW Postal Address for AFCU Donations

American & Foreign Christian Union PO Box 1254 Summerfield, FL 34492 AFCU President Gregg Foster [email protected]

Editor Katherine Eppert [email protected]

If you have any questions, write to that address or email me: Richard E. Bright - Treasurer AFCU [email protected]

American Church in Berlin Onkel-Tom-Strasse 93 14169, Berlin, Germany [email protected] American Church in Paris 65, quai d'Orsay 75007, Paris, France [email protected] Vienna Community Church Dorotheergasse 16 A-1010, Vienna, Austria [email protected]

I PREFER THAT MY DONATION BENEFIT: AFCU General Fund ___% American Church of Berlin ___% American Church in Paris ___% Vienna Community Church ___%

AMOUNT $__________ Check enclosed: (preferred) MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO: American and Foreign Christian Union CREDIT CARD: MasterCard Name on Card: Card Number: Expiration Date (month/year): DONOR(S): Address: Visa American Express

Unless otherwise designated, your contributions will go to the General Fund from which annual distributions support all of the churches.

Layout - J Gail Designs


March 10, July 10, November 10

The Bridge Deadlines

A "Greener" Bridge

E-mail Address:

MAIL YOUR DONATION TO: AFCU Treasurer PO Box 1254 Summerfield, FL 34492-1254

Your gift is greatly appreciated. Thank You!

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Thank you,


Due to increasing mailing and printing costs, and to be more environmentally friendly, the AFCU is making greater use of e-mail. If you wish to receive the Bridge electronically please respond to us at [email protected] If not, you will continue to receive the Bridge by regular mail. The newsletter is also available on our web site, Kathie Eppert, Editor the Bridge

WOAC Strawberry Tea

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Photos by Fred Gramann

Davidson UMC Choir

Adult Choir - June 15, 2008

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Celebration Ringers

Habitat Quilt Raffle

Concierge Apartment

Concierge Apartment Kitchen

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The Bridge Summer 2008

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