Farewell to Karen

From l to r: Yours Truly, Rev'd Dr Karen Moritz, Jack Noonan © Sybille Yates

From l to r: Yours Truly, Rev’d Dr Karen Moritz, Jack Noonan © Sybille Yates

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!

8 comments to Farewell to Karen

  • Paul O'Neil

    I met Karen when we did a year of Clinical Pastoral Education in Baltimore, Md. I was privileged to read from scripture at her Ordination while she was in Jacksonville Fl. She is truly a person of the Spirit and a marvelous worker and minister.

    • Ricky

      Thank you for commenting here, Paul. I agree entirely with the sentiments you express.

  • Gordon Truefitt

    Thank you for writing about Karen, and her time with us at St. Clement’s, in such detail. I, and I’m sure all our congregation, can identify with everything you have said. We miss her sorely.

  • I was fortunate enough to get to know and work alongside Karen on my two locum visits to Prague in 2010 and 2011 and I have happy memories of interesting and enjoyable conversations at church, in restaurants and even on public transport. I’m very sorry indeed that she won’t be there for my next visit and I wish her every success in finding a new post.

    • Ricky

      I knew that the two of you had got on very well together 🙂 Sadly, there is still no sign as yet, of a new post for Karen.

  • Sean Mccann

    Hi Ricky,
    I was sorry to read that your friend, colleague and fellow labourer in the vineyard is leaving Prague. Anyone reading your blog over the years can feel the warm friendship you and Karen shared, and I’m sure the old adage ‘a trouble shared…’ is just as applicable in religious as any other part of life. I’m not surprised to hear she also had many friends in the congregation. How sad to see politicking at work even within organisations one would expect to be above such pettiness. I hope Karen finds an equally rewarding and fulfilling post soon and that in the meantime you can both continue your friendship and fellowship. God bless.

    • Ricky

      Hi again Sean,

      Yes – over her time in Prague, Karen became a great friend of many in my congregation. And the old adage you mention is completely applicable!

      I don’t like to be critical of another Christian denomination, especially one that has been so supportive of the English-speaking Prague Anglican congregation. But the Synodal Council of the CCE/ECCB, both the previous Council & its successor that came into post last November, could have handled this far better. Hopefully their loss, will be someone else’s gain. But at the moment, Karen is still without a fresh ‘call’.