Ratzeburg Lutherans Visit Lindisfarne

In May last year Lindisfarne’s ordinands spent time at the Lutheran Seminary at Ratzeburg (about 30 miles west of Hamburg) as part of their annual residential school. In October we hosted the return leg and welcomed a group of trainee Lutheran pastors and two staff members to the North East.

The first four days were spent engaging with a number of church projects and contexts around the region. Visits to Hexham, Holy Island and the Cathedrals of Newcastle and Durham helped to give an overview of the story of Christianity in the North East. Visits to the Cornerstone and St Martin’s Byker Projects in Newcastle, and to the more rural settings of Kirkharle and Blanchland showed the Church at work in both city and countryside. In conversations throughout the week it became increasingly clear how much our guests had been infected by the passions and enthusiasms of those in ministry here. It was great to see how much they had clearly absorbed and been touched by in such a short amount of time.

At the weekend residential they were able to carry on with questions and comments, as they joined Lindisfarne ordinands in sharing perspectives on what it means to be an ordained minister in today’s church, on approaches to leading worship and preaching, and on how one can become an effective reflective practitioner in ministry today. There was also a great deal of fun and laughter. The unseasonably warm and sunny weather really helped to set off the region at its most beautiful – who’d have thought that we’d be enjoying temperatures of well over 20 degrees in October!

Our German guests spent their final night in a hotel in Newcastle, which gave them opportunity for them to explore the city, and perhaps do a little shopping before their flight home the next day.

Paul Philipps, Director of the Seminary at Ratzeburg, in a follow up email wrote: ‘Our feelings and thoughts are still very much touched and affected by the experience we had with you all. Once again, thank you for everything. We’ll keep in touch and make further plans.’

The visit coincided with a tremendously busy time as Lindisfarne launched its new academic year and we are very grateful to Richard Bryant who, barely into his retirement, co-ordinated much of the visit, drove the minibus and generally ensured that things ran smoothly. Our thanks go to all those who played a part in making this visit such a success: those who hosted the various visits during the week (some conducted in German), George Hepburn and the staff at Shepherds Dene who made our guests feel so welcome, and , not least, our own ordinands who engaged so enthusiastically.

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