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German Church Connects Retirement Center

When churches merge, it's not uncommon for congregations coming together to seek a new space to gather. A church in Germany made the most of the transition and sought space in a brand new building adjoining an apartment building for the aging. The arrangement has revitalized members and made it easier for new people to attend church.

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(Locator: Hamburg, Germany)

Some elderly residents of Hamburg, Germany are finding a new start, thanks to a United Methodist congregation near their assisted living space. 

The Rev. Uwe Onnen, Evangelisch-methodistische Kirche: "They're coming back again and again and saying, 'It's a new start for me. I was so long anymore in a church. And I start here anew. Maybe it's a new start for me to coming back to Jesus Christ.'"

Almost 200 people live in this newly-constructed center on the church's campus. 

The Rev. Uwe Onnen, Evangelisch-methodistische: "So that part was the church and the deaconesses' house and now we're going over to the nursing home. Over there you can see the residence."

Pastor Uwe Onnen leads worship services and offers daily devotions for residents. He is on-site to offer services as a counselor.

The Rev. Uwe Onnen: "They are here, and they see me as a pastor and they take me as their pastor. I say, 'Yes, you can talk to me. I will listen and if you like maybe we can pray together, or I'll just be there for you.'"

Onnen estimates he has 80 to 100 meaningful interactions with residents and staff each month. Most have no connection to any church.

The Rev. Uwe Onnen: "That's also part of the Methodist Church. Be there where the people are. And listen to them and have time for them and get connected to them. And if they have questions about faith or Jesus Christ or God or whatsoever I have then the time and can talk to them. So it really, for me it fits in what our purpose as a church, to be there for people."

Members are starting fresh too. Two congregations from different parts of Hamburg merged to form this church.

The Rev. Uwe Onnen: "The hope was when they come together, maybe start a new one and give the new vitalization and so on. And that really happened. And they were really astonished about it.  Some say it's a miracle. They hadn't thought that this would happen. But it happened. So they're really glad right now."

Attendance on Sunday averages 75 people and a web feed is available on TVs in the nursing home.

Margret Kaufel enjoys the social events including the ones the church hosts for residents.

Margaret Kaufel: "The people are wonderful."

(Rev Uwe at pin board pointing at notices) "…The flea market coming up or an evening at the church with a special issue, what we're talking about…"

The Rev. Uwe Onnen: "We see us really as a church who are welcoming to others and open to others."

For more information contact the Germany Episcopal Area

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Fran Walsh, 615-742-5458.

This video was first posted on September 28, 2017.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

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