The Corona pandemic is causing problems in the Eastern region

The Eastern Region has existed for ten years
“A lot of things have been slowed down by Corona”

Since Easter Monday 2012 there is the Eastern Region, in which the Protestant parishes work closely together. The retired pastor and his successor look to success, to the future – and to some problems.

On Easter Monday 2012, the Protestant parishes of Schermbeck and Drevenack and the parish office of Lühlerheim solemnly opened the East region. On November 12, 2011, the district synod, the supreme decision-making body of the ecclesiastical district of Wesel, unanimously decided on the formation and thus on the close cooperation. This constituted the first of the four regions of the church district of Wesel. Retired Drevenacker Pastor Helmut Joppien was present at the founding ceremony in the Schermbecker Georgskirche. He and his successor, Pastor Anke Bender, are looking back and forward.

Why was the Eastern Region founded?

Joppian Ten years ago it was already foreseeable that the personnel situation would also tighten in the Evangelical Church. The main concern was to set up the congregations in a way that would stand the test of time with the founding of regions in the church district of Wesel. This notably involves closer cooperation between parishioners.

    On Easter Monday 2012, the Eastern Region was solemnly inaugurated in the Georgskirche in Schermbeck by pastors Dieter Hofmann, Hans Herzog and Helmut Joppien (from left to right).

On Easter Monday 2012, the Eastern Region was solemnly inaugurated in the Georgskirche in Schermbeck by pastors Dieter Hofmann, Hans Herzog and Helmut Joppien (from left to right).
Photo: Helmut Scheffler Archive

How has pastoral care changed in the Eastern region?

Joppian Since the founding of the Eastern Region, the team has included the pastors of Drevenack and Schermbeck, at the time Pastor Dieter Hofmann and myself with 100% each, and Pastor Hans Herzog with a total of 75%, which is each responsible for half of the Lühlerheim Foundation and half of a district of Schermbeck should. It was therefore normal that the three of us got along well, even if we were very different. This was expressed, for example, in the planning of the thematic series of sermons during the summer holidays (“God is not nice” and others). Congregations quickly accepted other pastors as their own.

Why didn’t you merge the parishes at the time?

Joppian Although the church towers are only a good bike ride away, there was and is little will to think beyond one’s own village and change old traditions. During the consultations on the evolution of service schedules, we have seen how difficult it is to embark on new paths. It was a long and arduous journey until we adjusted the schedules so that one pastor could hold both services on Sunday. But we made it just in time. Today, this would no longer be possible without this solidarity. Otherwise, representation would no longer be possible. And it would no doubt have been much more difficult to fill Schermbeck’s pastorate again.

What changed with the formation of the East region?

Joppian The congregations now had regular contact with the three pastors. Unfortunately, the so-called pulpit exchange, in which pastors hold worship services throughout the church district, has already fallen asleep. The formation of regions has made this supra-municipal exchange even more difficult.

Has there also been closer cooperation in other areas?

Joppian Ten years ago, expectations were certainly greater than the changes that have actually taken place. At least a common rhythm of parish letters has been established. The joint deliberations of the presbyteries remained rare exceptions. Supra-congregational offerings such as meditation during Lent were also rarely accepted.

bender During the Corona period, there were joint letter campaigns at Easter and Christmas. The ecumenical thematic series “1700 years of Jewish life in Germany” also brought us together. The exhibition “Rethinking Security” is currently in progress, the preparatory work group of the church district is focusing on the eastern region.

When the Eastern Region was founded, the enrichment of community life was also mentioned as an asset. Has this been confirmed so far?

bender Much has been slowed down by Corona. We are just beginning to plan meetings again, such as eating together after the Easter service next Monday in Schermbeck, exactly 10 years after the Eastern Region opening ceremony.

Are there any other work ideas in the Eastern region in the second decade of its existence?

bender The new parish team has been complete again since October 2021 with Pastor Daniel Wiegmann. The ideas that we have developed together must be modified due to current events. Pastor Hans Herzog was commissioned by superintendent Thomas Brödenfeld to take over the representation in the parish of Brünen. The pastorate is vacant there. The replacement is scheduled to last from June 1 to December 31, 2022. After that, we can develop our new ideas for the Eastern region together.

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