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!

8 comments to Last Sunday evening in Dresden

  • Sean Mccann

    Hi Ricky,
    What a sad consequence for this kind young woman whose only wish is to help her fellow human beings. Those three ‘gentlemen’ seem to have unleashed a torrent of hatred and abuse in many parts of Britain, of course they will have plausible excuses releasing them from all blame. You and your fellow ‘remainers’ have my sympathy and respect Ricky.

    • Ricky

      Hi Sean,
      A very sad consequence indeed! I’m glad you put the word ‘gentlemen’ in inverted commas – I would use much stronger language to describe them! They certainly have unleashed a torrent of hatred and abuse in many parts of Britain which I find extremely ugly & worrying. I’m most grateful for your sympathy, Sean.

  • Perpetua

    It’s an unholy mess, Ricky, and we and our wider family are still very upset, and, yes, angry about it. This decision has been made on emotion and exaggerated, if not downright false, information and I really do think we will live to regret it very deeply. I would like to think that the girl you mentioned would be well-received and her work appreciated, but given some of the incidents being reported since the result, I can understand her apprehension. My GP is German and my dentist Polish and they and their families are feeling uncomfortable and unsettled. 🙁

    • Ricky

      It is an unholy mess, Perpetua. I haven’t focussed on it in this post but the stupid decision, made on the basis of emotion & lies, has put my own personal position in jeopardy and cast series doubts on my plans for retirement next year.

      I too, have read various reports a racist abuse being directed at other EU nationals living & working in the UK, as well as at those with non-white skin who are often second or third generation Brits. I can well understand your GP & dentist feeling uncomfortable. As I say in my post, Messrs Johnson, Gove and Farage have an awful lot to answer for.

      PS Thank you for the second comment which I’ve deleted. I realised you meant GP & had already corrected your comment before writing this reply. One of the joys of WordPress is that you can edit comments 🙂

  • Heather Garnett

    I am so disappointed that so many Brits have thrown the country into such a mess. All misled no doubt by the leader of UKIP. His atrocious performance among his fellow MEPs in Brussels showed him in his true colours. 🙁

    • Ricky

      I couldn’t agree more with everything you say, Heather. As for Farage, he is a complete embarrassment!

  • Dear Ricky!
    Making a second attempt to comment, that first captcha didn’t agree with me!!

    At first, I do envy you somewhat, the position you have, being able to share the gospel and the social life with so many and in such different churches and environments. Secondary, that kind of unexpected meetings really is one of Gods greater gifts to us, making our days turn into something completely different to what we had in mind when the day started. Your meeting with that couple sounded just like that divine intervention one might expect.

    As for that unholy mess, I really don’t envy you at all. Seeing it from our angle the referendum was a puzzling and somewhat frightening experience. When Scotland went out on that independence tour, it seemed rather puzzling too, but not frightening. This however, has a dark note in it, and I had hoped it had nothing to do with nationalism or racism but perhaps some dissatisfaction with the rather heavy and sturdy politics of the EU. Now I’m not so sure. The actions taken by gentlemen Johnson and Gove and others has left us even more puzzled. And where will this leave all of us?? The fear from that young girl is for certain rather adequate. If the old coal and steel-union meant hope for the future, end of hostilities and bickering, how could that common ground just be tossed away??

    We do pray for you, our friends in the UK and elsewhere, but we do it with concern for where this will eventually lead for all of us.

    As for unexpected meetings the thunder and rain brought us one today. The sun and the heavy raining and thundering kept changing places today, and we went home from the service just in time. One woman, aiming for the town by bike, rang our doorbell pleading for some cover.She stayed for a couple of hours, giving us a great opportunity to dig deeper in to today’s topic of being a follower. Such a blessed afternoon!!

    • Ricky

      Dear Solveig,

      Firstly, I’m sorry you had trouble with the CAPTCHA. I’m afraid it has to be there as a simple protection against spam comments. But I hope it never puts anyone off leaving a genuine comment like yours! If you are unsure what the code is, you can always click on the little wheel to the right of the code & get a different one.

      I do realise the privilege I have in ministering in three different places in two different countries. And yes – God’s timing and the people he brings across our paths, is quite amazing. I loved your story from today as described in your final paragraph.

      As for the EU referendum vote & its aftermath, it remains an unholy mess and does sadly, as you put it, ‘have a dark note in it’. Your prayers are much appreciated. I concur with you that the good work that the EU has achieved in ending & preventing hostilities, is far too valuable to be tossed away.