November 2015 was quite an ecumenical month. Not only did I sit through a nearly two hour meeting in Dresden, conducted predominantly in German and attended by various German Protestant ministers and theologians, I also attended two important services in Prague, conducted in Czech.
On 21st November, I was an ecumenical guest of the Ceskobratrská církev evangelická/Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren – the main Czech Protestant Church. The service was to bid farewell to the Moderator and Synodal Council of the Church for the past six years, and to welcome and formally install their successors who had been elected a few months previously. The service was held in Salvátor Church in central Prague which is effectively the ‘Protestant Cathedral’.
Whilst the whole two-and-a-half hour service was in Czech, because of having guests from other countries, there was a simultaneous translation service offered in English and German for parts of the it and I was also given a printed translation into English, of the new Moderator’s sermon. There were inevitably one or two rather ‘interesting’ interpretations. The most notable was when the new Synodal Council members, were asked a series of questions to each of which they had to answer, affirming their commitment to their new roles. But what should have been ‘I commit myself’, was interpreted as ‘I oblige myself’!
One very nice bonus arising from this event was that most international guests attending the service, were in Prague for the whole weekend and were therefore looking for somewhere to worship on Sunday morning. So my good friend Rev’d Dr Karen Moritz, brought several fluent English-speakings guests, to our 11.00 Eucharist the next day.
The following Saturday morning, 28th November, I attended a Eucharist held in the Old Catholic Cathedral of Sv Vavrince on Petrín Hill, Prague, during which Bishop Dušan Hejbal ordained three new deacons – including two women! From left to right they are, Monika Johanka Mádlová, Petra Baslová & Martin Kovác.
Whilst the whole service was in Czech, I am now quite familiar with the Old Catholic liturgy, not least because it is quite similar to ours, and so was able to join in fairly well. And like us, the Old Catholics stand to sing their hymns, unlike the Czech Protestants who do so sitting, something I always find very strange.
Following the ordination service, I posed for this photograph with Martin. He is Slovak but has done his academic studies in Prague and is also a fluent English-speaker. So I may well invite Martin to ‘deacon’ at St Clement’s on one Sunday in 2016.