How I experienced the Faith Conference Staunen 2015
at Dünenhof / Cuxhaven
by Kay Bauer 9 June 2015
What's the point in me going to a "Faith Conference"? Just sitting around for 4 days? At Dünenhof with its dreadfully loud dining room and the narrow beds in the holiday chalets that are much too short? No thanks, not for me!
That was my initial reaction as a 61-year old 6-foot man from Hamburg.
But my brothers and sisters at Christuskirche Hamburg-Hamm persuaded me to go after all. What can I say? It was a blessing for me to be there, for me very personally, and I think I was also able to be a blessing for some of the other participants through our many talks and discussions.
I'm still not sure why they called it a "Conference". It certainly wasn't the usual kind of conference. I slept in a normal 6-foot bed in the comfortable Dünenhof Hotel, right next to the youth centre. By the way, the acoustics in the dining room were much improved with lengths of fabric hanging from the sloping ceilings that absorbed the noise of voices and crockery.
It was a wonderful retreat, with plenty of different options to choose from, with workshops for looking at specific topics, with personal testimonies bearing witness to God's intervention and lots of valuable encouragement, which enriched me and gave me new courage. I now see the EMK with different eyes and am aware of the church's great potential.
I was also very impressed by Bishop Yambasu and his wife from Sierra Leone, with the reports they gave about their work and the difficult situation people face in their home country, where more than 10,000 children and youngsters have been orphaned by the "blood diamonds" civil wars and now also by the Ebola virus outbreak. It was mainly the adult generation that was killed by the Ebola virus, i.e. the parents, leaving the children behind, practically ignored by the state authorities but with intensive support provided by the Methodist Church. It was my privilege to drive Bishop Yambasu and his wife to Hamburg, confirming my initial impression that they are wonderful, highly educated people with rich life experience and a heart for Jesus. For the time being, the only help I can give is through prayer.
I enjoyed the commitment shown by various groups, the band from Osnabrück, the Gospel group from Bremerhaven and the blind entertainer, among others. It was great to see the Wesley Scouts in action with their camp fire and pita bread oven, particularly as for a while I myself had been involved in the scouting movement as a trainer for the Royal Rangers so that I am well aware of the valuable work that is being done with these fantastic young people.
My special thanks go to Christhard Elle and to Dorothea and Kai Schoof with their team for all their tireless work and effort.
The Methodists are a global church with about 75 million members, offering huge potential for Jesus to change and improve our world. As EMK in Germany we should take heart and broadcast the name of Jesus Christ to all and sundry, not just in our church buildings.
With kind regards,
Your Kay Bauer
That was Staunen 2015! for me
by Katja Nehring
My name is Katja Nehring, I'm from Delmenhorst. I'm nearly 49 years old, married to the best husband in the world, Jörg who is 54 years old and mother of five boys aged from 5 to 27 years.
This was the first time that we'd been to an event like Staunen!. I'd like to tell you a little bit about what we experienced and how we got to be part of it in the first place. That takes a bit of explanation: for about 4 years now, our boys have belonged to the Wesley Scouts. My husband met one of the scout leaders in hospital and they got talking. We liked each other right from the start. Well, he simply invited our boys to come and see what it's all about. The Wesley Scouts are part of the EMK. Wow, I thought, that's great. So off we went. You should know that two of our boys have mental health issues. But that simply wasn't a problem, for the Wesleys. Everyone welcomed them just as they are. That was the first time that we were filled with wonder. On the other hand, it's not possible for my boys to sleep in tents because of the impediments and one of them is incontinent at night.
One day, Ulli (she runs the group) asked whether we'd all like to join them for Staunen! 2015. Accommodation would be available in proper houses. That's great, yes we'll come. We simply hadn't got a clue what it all meant or what to expect, but that didn't matter. We'd probably all have lots of fun.
So we rang up and booked a room (the biggest challenge was for us all to sleep in one room! How was that going to work out?!) Then the day came. Time to set off. We were all very excited, the boys in particular. On arriving at Dünenhof, we were welcomed by a very friendly man who showed us where to go. Again we were full of wonder. By the time we'd actually found somewhere to park, the place was filling up. Lots more wonder. So many people. Now already.
OK, so let's get booked in, check our room number and register all our names. More to wonder at: everything is so well organised. Great. So where's this house? And our room? Even greater wonder: do they really expect all five us to sleep here? Help, that won't work. OK, help is needed. They sent us to see Dorothea Schoof. Straight away she produced a super solution. More wonder. Wow. Talk about being spontaneous! Many thanks once more, dear Mrs Schoof.
OK, so we then cleared the car, unpacked our things, made the beds and helped the Wesley Scouts get everything set up. Time to take a look at the surroundings. Even more wonder: what a fantastic facility. The weather on that day was on our side too. The evening meal gave us a first opportunity to look around and wonder at how well the table was laid with all the tasty food. Wonder at all the many people and the age range they represent, from very old to very mature. Wow, so many children, so many teenies.
The first tent meeting, goodness it was cold! Impressive too. So much work, so much effort had gone into setting it all up. More wonder. And the band - wow. The catering tent - wow. More wonder. The first night wasn't bad, we slept quite well (once the youngest finally got off). Next day the children's programme began in the morning. More wonder - wow, so many children. But everything worked perfectly. No niggles, no quarrelling on any of the days. Wow. And so many activities for the children.
For ourselves, we weren't quite sure what to do in the morning. So to start with we just watched what was going on around us. We kept popping in to see what the Wesley Scouts were doing - it was so relaxing. To summarise, all we can say is that it was great. Singing in the mornings, then the children's programme, afternoon activities and the fantastic evening sessions. There was something for everyone.
I liked the singing with Sebastian best of all. Just imagine, none of us knew each other properly but he taught us all four songs in next-to-no time. Wow - lots of wonder again. And even more so when it transpired that we'd be performing. Help! In front of all those people. Then I thought, come on, you can do it. Sebastian has put so much effort into it. You can't let him down now. OK, just grin and bear it. Great wonder. I managed it and it was great. The weather for the hike along the beach was as cold as at the North Pole. But we decided to give it a try and walk the 6 kilometres. It was a huge challenge for Maurice as he has great mobility problems when it comes to walking. But he managed it. Despite the wind, the cold and the rain. He managed it - we all did. We were full of wonder. We wondered even more that Maren Herrendörfer and another couple (meanwhile we're good friends) and another man were with us all the time. We were the last, but they still stayed with us. Wow.
The open air church service was another source of wonder. We'd never experienced anything like it. So many people, the children's time, it was so great. All we can say really is that it was lovely. So much filled us with wonder, and we'll certainly be back next time (hopefully it will be a bit warmer then).
A big thank you to the Wesley Scouts who put so much effort into all the activities: the treasure hunt, the scouting game, the morning activities, the camp fires and, wonder oh wonder, the really tasty tarte flambée.
A big thank you to the catering tent. You were always there and always had a good coffee for us.
A big thank you to the kitchen. The food was great - though perhaps we could have done with more rolls in the morning!!
A big thank you to the children's team.
A big thank you to Dorothea and Kai Schoof who took so many pictures (and who are still such willing listeners even now).
A big thank you to Dorothea Schoof for her help, and all the very best for the future.
A big thank you to the band. You were great.
A big thank you to all the other helpers. You filled us with wonder, time and again.
A big thank you to Christhard, who made it all possible.
A big thank you to all the people who came to Staunen! (for the huge distances some of them travelled - another reason to wonder).
A big thank you to everyone who treated our boys like all the others.
Next time we'd like more creative workshops (singing - gladly every day with Sebastian, painting, handicrafts....).
Perhaps it could be possible to start the evening sessions a bit earlier? By nine o'clock it was getting late and the children were always tired.
I felt it was a shame for the Wesley Scouts that they couldn't take part in many of the super activities.
So we came home with lots of positive impressions, new friends (who we now meet up with on a private basis), and we continue to enjoy sharing and exchanging with Mr and Mrs Schoof.
We have great fun telling everyone what a good time we had.
We all came closer to God.
I hope this long report hasn't sent you to sleep, but there was so much that was really wonder-ful.
Maybe we'll see you May 2018?!?!
Staunen 2015 - Faith Conference+
by Michael Rübesamen
I must admit that as I got into my car on Wednesday 13 May to drive to Cuxhaven for the Faith Conference, I was very uncertain. What on earth am I letting myself in for? What can I expect? Is this the right thing to do - after all, so many everyday tasks are waiting for my attention?
But right from the start of the welcome session, I knew I'd made the right decision! The words spoken by Christhard Elle (Pastor in Bremerhaven and Head of the Organisation Team) made it quite clear: you have to break out of everyday routines and try something new if you want to experience wonder in your life. Wonder about yourself, about others, and above all about our Lord Jesus Christ. Which is exactly what the four days at Dünenhof near Cuxhaven were all about. We should take Moses as our role model. He could have ignored the burning bush and turned back to herd his sheep. But instead, he followed God's call.
After this opening event my uncertainty had gone and I was willing to embrace new experiences and to meet new people. And of course I wanted to wonder. Now I was excited!
Firstly, I wondered at the number and origin of the participants. Nearly 300 people were there, including 50 children. They were mainly from the North Germany Conference, but there were also members of other conferences and even some people from Switzerland. Besides myself, our church charge was represented by Pastor Rudi Grützke, Sigrid Rosemann, the Wachtendorf family and Dagmar and Nina Morghen.
Everyone was free to choose individually how to make the best use of the days in Cuxhaven. The programme offered a wide range of possibilities:
All activities were absolutely voluntary. Those who wanted could simply take a time-out on their own to enjoy the beauty of nature at the North Sea and around Dünenhof.
Without any shadow of a doubt, the highlight of these four days was the open air church service in the band stand in Döse. We defied the stormy weather and had a wonderful time. Many had even walked to the service through the rain from Sahlberg along the beach or across the mud flats.
And then after all the cloudy, windy weather of the previous days, on Sunday the sun actually shone for the closing service, with Pastor Manfred Pagel's refreshing sermon sending us home around midday.
For me, it was Bishop Yambasu from Sierra Leone who had joined us for the event who found the right words to say how successful and inspiring the event had been. It was with great passion that he said: "There is still fire in the Methodist Church!" Let us be encouraged by these words.
These few days definitely filled me with wonder time and again. I was particularly impressed by the many people who gave witness to their experiences with God. In many cases, these were quite simple everyday situations. But they served to show that God is also present and working in our daily lives and that we really ought to take a closer look.
Faith Conference at Dünenhof, Cuxhafen
Staunen! - a Faith Conference for our church
by Manfred Tubbesing
A good 300 people came together over the Ascension Day Weekend at Dünenhof in Cuxhaven to learn once again to be filled with wonder at the gifts of grace that God gives to us in Jesus. Jesus, the centre of all the special things we experience and at the heart of our everyday lives - often unnoticed. And so my wife and I, her daughter and granddaughter decided to join this discovery tour.
On the bumpy road of our life's journey we often struggle to find the right balance. We need balance to use the gifts God has given us for our limited existence on this earth to the good of other people, no matter how close or remote they are to us. Our Lord Jesus Christ made no differences here, and we keep on asking how He did it. We seek encounters with Him to make sure that we're still on the right path, or have we already lost the way?
But when, where and how can we actually encounter Jesus? Even the disciples had their problems here, for example on the road to Emmaus.
The Faith Conference encouraged us to make a "date" with Jesus.
The bible study groups quickly showed us that one basic prerequisite consists in the need for quiet time to listen to Jesus or at least perceive His presence somehow whenever we need Him. It is us, not Jesus (He always has time), who have to make space for quiet time, space that it is not earmarked or planned for something else. Moments that we can leave up to God, completely. Moments like this don't just happen, we have to let them happen, said Professor Dr Christoph Rädel at one of the bible studies.
At the start of the Faith Conference, the initiator Pastor Christhard Elle (Bremerhaven) invited us to think about what stops us from "wondering" and what prevents us from encountering Jesus. For the more than 300 guests, the reasons consisted primarily in distractions caused by family, job and leisure, as well as the media and computer games.
We collected the answers and hung them up around a cross.
When we wonder, we open ourselves to this new experience. We can then encounter something bigger, lovelier and greater than expected. "I never thought that would be possible. Wow!"
When we wonder, we are affected as the whole individuals that we are, while at the same time we take a step back from our preconceived ideas. We let new events, things or people speak into our lives. We really should allow ourselves to wonder more. Particularly with respect to Our Lord God. The more I let Him touch me and the deeper my profession of faith to Him, the greater my experience of life itself. And that does us good, said Manfred Pagel, Dünenhof Director, during his sermon at the farewell service.
The many activities and programme points gave everyone, the young and very young, the adults and the elderly, an opportunity to strengthen and renew their relationship with God or even discover Him for the first time.
Many thanks to Pastor Christhard Elle, his organisation team and everyone else who played an active role during this wonder-ful 96-hour experience at Dünenhof. We look forward to another Faith Conference in 2018.
God fills his people with wonder
by Susanne Dickmann / Klaus Ulrich Ruof
"Staunen! 2015" was the motto for the Ascension Day weekend in Cuxhaven. The Faith Conference was fully booked with 300 participants. Dünenhof was an ideal venue in its unique position just behind the dike: right at the heart of things but far away from people's everyday lives.
One of the special guests was Bishop John Yambasu and his wife Milicent who had come from Sierra Leone. Bishop Yambasu reported about the Ebola epidemic that had caused such disaster in his country for months on end. The United Methodist Church had transcended denominational barriers and worked together with Moslem representatives in the primarily Moslem country, in an enriching experience of unconditional brotherly love right across all the religious frontiers.
There were plenty of activities for all age groups, including bible study groups led by Christoph Raedel, Lars Weinknecht, Maren Herrendörfer, Irene Kraft, Wilfried Roecker and the Wesley Scouts. Under the conference topic of "STAUNEN - Wonder", senior congregation members from EMK Bremerhaven talked about the wonderful transformation of their church, which was very nearly closed down five years ago. Now they find themselves part of a flourishing, growing young community.
There were moving and emotional words that touched everyone in the tent. "God's faithfulness brings all His children together, regardless of age or tradition", said a participant about the shared experiences "as long as we have an open heart for each other".
The highlight of the four days was an open air church service in the band stand at Cuxhaven-Döse. Cheerful worship songs and an unusually colourful collection of all kinds of waterproof jackets filled the many passers-by and visitors to the beach with wonder. The fact that the clouds unexpectedly broke up at the start of the church service with some lovely sunshine to warm everyone simply underlined the message of the conference: God still fills His people with wonder in the here and now, every single day.
The Faith Conference was organised by the Commission for missionary church planting of the North Germany Conference and EMK Bremerhaven, together with the Children and Youth Organisations, the Adult Education Ministry and surrounding EMK churches. The next Faith Conference is planned in three years.