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Historical Background of the Evangelische ZehntGemeinschaft (EZG)

This alliance was founded in the year 1999 by Renè Leudesdorff and it’s name could roughly be translated as: “Protestant (Lutheran) Collective of Ten”. While visiting the “New German States” (= the former GDR) Leudesdorff noticed, that for many small villages and their congregations, there would be no worship service and no congregational gathering took place, during any absence of their minister. This situation was aggravated by the fact, that up to 15 different villages, which formerly had had their own congregations, a local minister and also a parsonage, had to be served by one minister. If a minister became ill or had to be absent, a colleague from another (spread-out) congregation had to fill in for him, especially for any funeral services.

This situation prompted an appeal to all the retired brothers and sister in the German protestant church to contemplate offering their time and provide the needed service to those congregations, for the duration of “a tenth of the year”, which adds up to about four to five weeks annually. A circle was formed by about 35 ministers who were willing to do this Christian service for the congregations of the “New States” in Easter Germany.

To be of service

The initial idea was to organize the substitution during vacations and times in need, to give the ministers some opportunity for workshops, retreats etc. Soon it became clear, that there was another real need, when a minister became a mother and took her “Mother’s Leave of Absence” which – according to Germany law- can be as long as one year or even longer.

Soon the service the retired ministers performed became established. In the event of an illness the EZG was contacted for help. Sometimes a substitute service was needed for longer than 4 weeks. In this case, several retired ministers shared this duty, but always for a limited time. The EZG was not able and it was not its mission, to find solutions for any permanent personnel problems and they felt unable to fill in vacated positions, for which no new minister could be found.

The response to the service of the EZG war overwhelmingly positive. “This was the first time, I could take a vacation, without having to worry about my flock” was a sentiment which was heard regularly and the congregations were equally grateful for the service. One Minister pointed out, that it also enriches the congregation, when it has the opportunity to meet different retired minister and many personal relationships were formed over time.

Service of presence

For several years the EGZ has a “service of presence” in the cloister church of Jerichow, with its beautiful brick church, which is also called „the Cradle of German Brick-Romanticism“. It is really a tourist attraction during the summer months and people are coming to this place from within and without Germany. To make sure that this beautiful building is not just to be experienced as a museum, there are several special worship services during the summer months to which tourists are welcomed, invited and encouraged to attend Additional a “service of presence” is offered, where people can come and talk a the minister in private with any concerns, be it personal or religious nature, they can be sure to find an open heart and a willingness to listen. Two ministers serve during this time.