On Sunday 17th April, I, together with the St Clement’s congregation, bid a sad farewell to my friend and ministerial colleague, Rev’d Dr Karen Moritz.
As I explained in a post in May 2011, Karen is an ordained minister of word and sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She has been in the Czech Republic since September 2010 as a mission co-worker, working with the Ceskobratrská církev evangelická (CCE) / Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB), the main Czech Protestant Church, which is a united Lutheran/Presbyterian denomination. The Kliment congregation of the CCE/ECCB own Kostel sv Kliment, the Church building where we worship in Prague.
Since successfully getting Karen licensed under the Ecumenical Canons of the Church of England, she has contributed enormously to the life of St Clement’s during her time in Prague. She has regularly preached, led non-Eucharistic worship in my absence, helped with the administration of Holy Communion, and led intercessions.
Karen has also been a great supporter and contributor to our midweek activities. In 2014, she organised and led our Lent Study Course entitled ‘Discovering your spiritual gifts’ which was much appreciated by all those who attended. Then in 2015, she was the main organiser, as well as one of the speakers, at probably our best attended Lent Course during my time as Chaplain, looking at the Bohemian Reformation.
During her time with us, Karen has become a good friend of many in the congregation and on occasions, has given a listening ear, together with pastoral care and support, to a number of people. As I know from having, at various times in the past, three different ordained female colleagues working with me, sometimes an individual needs the insights that a female minister brings, rather than mine. None of us are gifted in all areas!
At a personal level, what I have very much valued and what I will miss the most, is having someone with whom I have been able to share issues or particular situations that I’ve faced in my ministry. Being able to talk with Karen, have the insights and understanding that she has gained from her many years of ministry in a variety of situations, knowing that anything said will be kept with complete confidentiality, has been invaluable to me.
The reason Karen has now returned to the USA is tied up with decision making, or lack of willingness to make a decision, within the Synodal Council and HQ of the CCE/ECCB. It is my personal view that they have basically shot themselves in the foot! They will only fully realise all that Karen has contributed, most notably getting a whole variety of things into English rather than Czenglish, and organising various events and visits for members of partner Churches, when she is no longer there to do these things.
As I write this, Karen still does not have a definite new position to go to. She will continue to be employed by Presbyterian World Mission until the end of June and over this month and next, will be carrying out deputation work as well as hopefully attending interviews for a possible future post. I am very much hoping for positive news very soon.
On Sunday 17th April, when the photograph at the beginning of this post was taken, Karen was the preacher at our 11.00 Sung Eucharist. You can listen to her sermon here, though the sound quality is not as good as I would like it to be. My Licensed Reader Jack Noonan, led our intercessions and Karen and Jack administered the two chalices.
Because Karen had already packed and dispatched most of her belongings back to the USA, including her black preaching gown and stoles, Jack and I dressed her up as an Anglican 🙂 , wearing my black cassock and surplice, together with a white stole that lives in our wardrobe in the Church vestry.
Thank you, Karen, for everything you have given in the five and half years you have been such an intrinsic part of St. Clement’s. We will miss you enormously!