Baptists Recall the Fall of the Wall 20 Years Ago with Thanks to God
B e r l i n /P r a g u e – The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 was the start of a movement of liberation which also revolutionised the lives of European Baptists. Tony Peck, the General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation (EBF), noted this in a congratulatory letter addressed to German Baptists on the 20th anniversary of the Wall’s demise. He greeted the German Baptists on behalf of the EBF Family “to join you in thanksgiving to the Lord for that day the barrier which had divided Europe for so long began to be pulled down, and people were set free from oppression”.
Peck added that the fall of the Iron Curtain had been God’s answer to the many prayers of Baptists in Germany and throughout the world. He also thanked German Baptists for supporting the EBF family in many ways during the 20 years since the reunification of their two Unions. “You are very much at the heart of the EBF and are such a help and encouragement to other Unions.”
Berlin Baptists celebrated the Wall’s fall with worship services of thanks on 8 and 9 November. In a service held in Berlin-Weissensee, Pastor Uwe Dammann, Chairman of Berlin’s „Bethel“ charity mission, stated: “The Lord has done great things for which we can be joyful today.” He gave the believers freedom – even when they were still behind walls.
In an ecumenical service in East Berlin’s Gethsemane church, political and church leaders reminisced on the opening of the Berlin Wall. Lutheran Bishop Wolfgang Huber reminded listeners that in the area immediately surrounding Gethsemane church, 500 persons had been arrested and held for a number of weeks. Speakers at church services called on listeners not to trivialise the injustice perpetrated by the German Democratic Republic. Citing a passage from the Bible, Regina Claas (Elstal), General Secretary of the Union of Evangelical Free Churches (Baptists) in Germany, reminded listeners that Christians are the light of the world. They should allow that light to shine so that people might see their good works and praise God.
In a lecture held at Elstal’s Theological Seminary in the environs of Berlin on 9 November entitled “And See, We have Survived”, retired theology lecturer Christian Wolf (Berlin) called on others to accept responsibility for the state of society and strive for peace. During GDR times, Wolf had been a lecturer at Baptist Theological Seminary Buckow (near Berlin) and, following the peaceful revolution, also at Theological Seminary Hamburg.