Last Sunday evening in Dresden

The River Elbe with the Frauenkirche beyond © Ricky Yates

The River Elbe in Dresden with the Frauenkirche beyond © Ricky Yates

Last Sunday evening, one week later than usual, I officiated at the English-language Anglican Service of Evening Prayer, hosted by the Frauenkirche in Dresden. At the beginning of the service, I welcomed all those attending, explained who I am, and then made three announcements.

The first was to apologise that, once more, my troublesome front crown, having managed to stay in place for the three previous months, had again become loose and then fallen out on Sunday morning. Besides making me look goofy, this also meant that speaking publicly was difficult as numerous speech sounds are made by putting your tongue to your front teeth and it is therefore somewhat difficult to be articulate, if there is a big gap 🙁

Secondly, I thanked everyone for attending, being very aware that the service had coincided with a rather important football match 🙂 Germany were playing Slovakia in the last sixteen of the Euro 2016 football competition, the match kicking off at exactly the same time as our service began.

But thirdly I said, I just wanted to clearly declare that, ‘Last Thursday, I voted to remain!’ The congregation of native English-speakers from around the world, together with English-speaking Germans, erupted in sympathetic laughter the like of which I’ve never experienced previously when officiating at the Frauenkirche.

I was originally going to write about the theme of the service and how I tackled it in my sermon, which had very clear resonances with the referendum result. But instead, in order to get this post published tonight and to keep it reasonably short in length, I just want to tell you of a conversation I had following the service, which encapsulates one very unpleasant aspect of the recent referendum campaign.

As I explained in a previous post, following worship, a small number of the regular Dresden congregation, gather for a drink in a nearby Bierstube, the Augustiner an der Frauenkirche. It being warm and dry, we were able to sit outside, enjoying the evening air and hearing a loud cheer from a nearby establishment, when Germany scored a third goal part-way through the second half of their match.

We were joined for the first time by an Anglophile German couple – Stephan and Kornelia. Stephan explained to me that he was a GP and had undertaken some of his medical studies in the UK, including his GP training, and had then worked as a GP for a few years in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, before returning to Germany. He added that one of the reasons they had started attending the monthly English-language service was to ensure they didn’t lose their English!

But they then told me how their daughter had just finished her studies at Gymnasium, and had arranged to have gap year, before going to university. She had been accepted to work for a UK charity based in London, starting in July, providing respite care for the parents of handicapped children.

Hearing the outcome of the referendum on Friday morning, she had expressed to them her fear, that she might not now be able to do this. And even if she did, she was concerned as to how she would be perceived and received in current British society.

The ‘Leave campaign’ has released a very unpleasant current of xenophobia and racism meaning that a German young lady who wants to give something very positive to British society, is now left feeing very uncomfortable and wondering whether her chosen path was wise. Messrs Johnson, Gove and Farage – you have an awful lot to answer for!

My April 2016 visit to the UK – ICS Chaplains Conference

Alyson Lamb and Paul Vrolijk being interviewed by Richard Bromley, ICS Mission Director © Ricky Yates

As I explained in my earlier post, I spent the second half of my time in the UK, attending the annual ICS Chaplains Conference which this year took place at Ashburnham Place Conference Centre, near Battle in East Sussex. Whilst being conveniently located for reaching Dover and my return journey to Prague, I wasn’t otherwise very enamoured with the venue.

However, as always, I enjoyed meeting and hearing from my fellow Chaplains ministering in a variety of situations across Europe, and a couple from farther afield. And for the first time, I was invited to speak myself, giving what was billed as a ‘TED talk’, about my ministry in Prague, Brno and Dresden. It was very nice to have positive feedback from several of my . . . → Read More: My April 2016 visit to the UK – ICS Chaplains Conference

My April 2016 visit to the UK – a family weekend

Jov and Phillip, awaiting the start of the match © Ricky Yates

After my two-day visit to North Wales, I headed back across Offa’s Dyke, to Nottingham in the English East Midlands, spending the weekend staying with my son Phillip and future daughter-in-law Lisa, in their recently purchased new home. This has a guest bedroom meaning no more sleeping in a cellar without windows, or in a sleeping bag on the settee, as I have in times past 🙂

Ever since his childhood growing up in North Oxfordshire, Phillip has been a fan of Oxford United FC and is currently a season ticket holder. Months previously, when I was organising this visit, we agreed that we would go down to Oxford together and watch OUFC play Hartlepool United on Saturday 23rd April.

At that time, we didn’t know how critical . . . → Read More: My April 2016 visit to the UK – a family weekend

My April 2016 visit to the UK – a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway

Aberglaslyn Pass © Ricky Yates

As a teenager in the 1960s, I enjoyed several visits to North Wales – either on geography field trips, or walking holidays, staying overnight in youth hostels. On a number of occasions during those visits, I walked through the beautifully rugged Aberglaslyn Pass, following the line of a long defunct railway. This included walking through three short tunnels, hewn through protruding outcrops of rock.

Research using my local library back in Coventry, revealed that what I had walked along was part of the line of the narrow gauge Welsh Highland Railway, which had closed in 1937. A few years later in 1941, the track and rolling stock had been requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence, to support the ongoing war effort.

Much as I liked the idea that one day, what must have been a most wonderful scenic . . . → Read More: My April 2016 visit to the UK – a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway

My April 2016 visit to the UK – Brownsea Island & St Tecwyn’s Church, Llandecwyn

The castle on Brownsea Island, as seen from the ferry from Sandbanks © Ricky Yates

Following worship at St. Clement’s on the morning of Sunday 17th April, when I and the congregation bid farewell to Rev’d Dr Karen Moritz, I was away from the Czech Republic for the rest of the month, only returning to Prague on the afternoon of Saturday 30th April, ready to lead worship the following day. It was first a week of annual leave, which was then followed by attending my final ICS Chaplains Conference.

I drove from Prague to the UK over a period of two days, following the almost identical route I described two years ago, when I last made this journey. The only difference this time was that I spent the night of Sunday 17th, staying with the York family in Luxembourg. Then . . . → Read More: My April 2016 visit to the UK – Brownsea Island & St Tecwyn’s Church, Llandecwyn