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Darkness and light remembered in Berlin

August 13, 2011 No Comment

Construction of the Berlin Wall began August 13, 1961

For many a 50-year commemoration is cause for celebration. In Germany, however, Saturday, August 13 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall by the communist East German government. Remembering the event, the Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche (SELK), Lutheran Church–Canada’s partner church, will hold a Vesper Service of Repentance and Thanksgiving at Central Lutheran Church, the former parish of Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Torgerson, a Canadian citizen. The church is located in what was formerly East Berlin.

Pastor Torgerson commented on the wall’s construction in an e-mail announcing the service. “This barbaric construct separated families, tore apart a city, and divided a whole nation. Many in Germany were convinced they would not see the end of this horrible breach of civility within their lifetime.” A popular uprising in November 1989 saw the wall torn down, beginning on November 9, and Germany re-united. The pastor describes the wall’s eventual destruction in scriptural terms which “again proved to be more real than any human expectation: ‘By my God I can leap over a wall’” (2 Samuel22:30).

LCC president, Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, studied at university and seminary in Germany in the 1970s and recalls how the construction of the Berlin Wall not only separated families, but also entire congregations. “A portion of the Central Lutheran congregation (west of the wall) was cut off from its church building, could not attend services. As a result, they had to organize a new congregation called St. Paul’s, which still exists today.”

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989

While the commemoration is of special interest to Germans who will have occasion to express their gratitude to God for this gift of freedom re-established and of liberty regained, Dr. Torgerson invites members of Lutheran Church–Canada congregations to also participate. He suggests giving “special praise to Christ, our gracious Lord and Redeemer. He has again shown His lordship and rule over all the earth.” He asks for prayer that “Germany might again recover for its souls’ benefit the Gospel of Christ that Martin Luther so clearly proclaimed.“

Dr. Torgerson begins a teaching assignment at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario this fall.