Friday, 26th September, 3 pm: I am in Hamburg, packing hymnals and songbooks from the International Congregation into a box to be taken to Haus Oeverdiek on Timmendorfer Strand, where another eleven people from our congregation would shortly arrive, as guests of the Hamburg church. I thought I would check progress on the vehicles from Berlin. Hmmm… did I say "just arrive"? In fact, they were just about ready to leave.

In the end, the Berlin contingent was complete by 7.30 that evening, which was not too bad considering a delayed departure and Friday afternoon traffic. A good time was had by all? Well, I can't be certain, but I didn't hear any complaints — except from the centre manager, who was a little shocked at the way English-speaking congregations understand mealtimes!

Photo of retreat at Oeverdieck

James, Andi, Romesh and I provided the music for the praise service on the Friday evening, which then extended into a "requests" evening well past eleven, although by this time half of the band was already in bed. Thanks to Martin for bringing his drum, and to Andreas and Tamara for the keyboard.

There was plenty of free time to get to know one another and enjoy the peaceful location, with walks to the beach (two of our members were actually brave enough to swim in the Baltic in late September — I have photos to prove it), a games evening, table tennis, kicker, pool… And of course, there was always the option to withdraw to one's room or the garden for a drink and a chat.

The "official" program consisted of the praise evening, two bible studies (one for the men, one for the women, so that the children were always catered for) and a worship service on the Sunday morning, where MELM co-ordinator Sam Greening brought together the various strands of our theme, "Building God's Family", in a very moving and inspiring sermon.

From the feedback I have heard out of both congregations, the retreat was greatly enjoyed by everyone who participated. New connections and friendships between the congregation in Hamburg and our congregation here in Berlin have been formed, and I think we are all looking forward to the next opportunity to get together and share worship, prayer and free time in fellowship with our sister congregation.

As a follow-up to the retreat, some of us were able to share in the induction of Jim and Helen Dwyer as missionaries and pastor in Hamburg on October 12th. We bring back greetings and blessings for all here in Berlin.

By: Paul Compton
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November 2003: Contents | Change | Time flies | Oeverdieck | Why care?
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