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Farewell for G. Frey-Reininghaus

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On 1 April 2017, Gerhard Frey-Reininghaus, who had worked for the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren for 26 years, retired.

He arrived in the Czech Republic for a two-year postgraduate study programme with his first wife Adelheid in 1991 from a church in Köngen, Württemberg state. However, he did not return to Germany when the two years passed. It was a time when the Protestant Theological Faculty was facing a rapid increase in the number of its students, and Gerhard took on the difficult task of helping the Faculty find a new building. He was immensely hardworking in his fundraising activities, always open to suggestions, kind and enthusiastic – and always somehow managing to spread this atmosphere and attitude among all his collaborators. Without his help, the Protestant Theological Faculty would never have been able to develop the way it did in the new conditions. With his wife, Gerhard established the international department at the Faculty, which remains very active up until today. His work at the faculty was followed by an invitation of the Synodal Senior back in the day, Pavel Smetana, to work at the Ecumenical Department of the Central Church Office. Gerhards mission, right from the beginning, was to work on healing the wounds inflicted by the Second World War upon both nations. A Czech-German working group was thus established, Gerhard being the secretary for the Czech part. The starting point of this cooperation was a statement made by the ECCB’s Synod in 1995 on the topic of the expulsion of the Sudetenland Germans. As a result from the working group the book The Dividing Wall Has Fallen (1996) was published, which had the aim of seeking reconciliation and mutual understanding. Through his work, Gerhard demonstrated and reminded everybody that reconciliation is the true focal point of the Gospel. It was also as a result of Gerhard’s effort that an agreement was signed between the ECCB and the EKD in 2003. Cooperation in the field of combatting the sexual abuse of women and children in the Czech-German bordering areas followed this agreement.

However, Gerhard Frey-Reininghaus’ work did not only focus on Germany. He also initiated the cooperation of the American Working Group in the Czech Republic and the Czech Mission Network in the USA. He established and developed contacts with a number of churches across Europe and also supported the ECCB’s friendship with the Presbyterian Church of South Korea. It was Gerhards initiative, that this informational bulletin has been issued for the many international partners of the Protestant Theological Faculty, of the ECCB and its Diaconia.

Gerhard also proved a very skilled organiser and coordinator, for example when coordinating the aid during the floods of 1997 and 2002, organising the Meeting of Christians in Prague in 2005 or during the celebrations of the 600th anniversary of the death of Jan Hus in July 2015. Gerhard supported these events with his detached view, his good estimates and communication, and he managed the preparatory teams with professional routine.

Of course, we are not able to list all of Gerhard’s actions with which he contributed to the life of our church. At the good-bye party for Gerhard, organised by the Synodal Council on 1 April 2017 and attended by approximately 150 Czech and international ecumenical partners, gratitude for his understanding, openness and friendliness were most often expressed. Gerhard’s work has enriched our lives and serves as inspiration for many of us. We are glad that Gerhard’s friendship lasts and we can still meet him in various roles dealing with Czech and international ecumenical activities. All the words of gratefulness that have been spoken are also on our behalf, and we thank our Lord for the gifts He endowed Gerhard with, as well as for Gerhard’s willingness to share these with us.

Daniela Hamrová

18. 4. 2017, 20:37