Archive for the ‘Kaiserslautern Church of Christ, Kaiserslautern, Germany, Feb. 2000-Jun. 2006’ Category:
(This is a report I submitted to the Abilene Christian University Halbert Institute for Missions
soon after I arrived in Kaiserslautern in 2000 to begin my work with the church.
See my other posts on the work of the church during the years I served there.)
A fifty year-old work
Kaiserslautern, Germany, Church of Christ intiail report
Kaiserslautern Church of Christ
The Kaiserslautern Church of Christ was begun in the early 1950’s as an effort to reach war-torn Germany with the Gospel of Christ. The first outreach efforts were conducted from rented facilities in downtown Kaiserslautern. Early efforts were aimed mostly at the local Germans. Within a few years American Christians stationed in the military bases around Kaiserslautern also began to meet together. Today the German and American Christians share a building the church owns near the center of Kaiserslautern. The church building was completed in early 1960. It has the capacity to seat about 200 people in the main meeting room. There are also two apartments, an office, a guest bedroom, a kitchen and fellowship area, and various classrooms in the building.
The American congregation in Kaiserslautern consists of 100-plus Christians. Most of the members are American military personnel, their families, or civilians who work for the American military. The Kaiserslautern Military Community (KMC) is the largest group of Americans living in one place outside the United States.
The current preacher for the Kaiserslautern church is David Emery. He is also one of two elders for the congregation. Thom Hackett, a senior civilian working for the military, is the other elder. David and his wife, Deborah, moved to the work at Kaiserslautern in February of 2000. David is a retired Air Force officer. During his military career he was stationed in five States and four foreign countries. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, Texas, as well as Master’s degrees from Boston University and Lubbock Christian University. He has preached for churches in Destin, Florida; Athens, Greece; Kleine Brogel, Belgium; Wolfforth, Texas; Callisburg, Texas; and Seven Points, Texas. He was the Director of the Grayson County College Christian Campus Center for five years where he was the campus minister and a Bible instructor. David has also done short-term mission work in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria; Eindhoven, The Netherlands; and Athens, Greece. The Emery’s have five children and six grandchildren.
The Kaiserslautern Church of Christ has eight deacons. They serve in the areas of Information Technology, Outreach, Education, Benevolence, Fellowship, Worship, Building and Grounds, and Business Affairs/Logistics.
The Kaiserslautern Church of Christ is currently involved in several projects designed to help the Christians of the congregation develop their faith while reaching out with the Gospel or helping other Christians. The local effort involves offering free English reading and conversation classes to people in Kaiserslautern. We advertise these classes through the local newspaper and with posters. An easy-to-read translation of the English Bible serves as the textbook for the classes. We have studied with German, Indonesian, French, Chinese, Russian, Turkish and Indian people from the local area.
We are also in the process of making plans to take members of the Kaiserslautern church to Bulgaria to work with the Christians who meet in Sofia, the capital. As we are physically close to Bulgaria and we have people with various talents within our congregation we want to help the Bulgarian Christians in any way we can. We plan to offer classes, training, seminars, preaching and teaching, and Christian fellowship. We hope to take several Christians or Christian families from Germany to Sofia several times a year to help in any way the Bulgarian Christians want. We will coordinate our efforts with Tom and Sheryl Black, missionaries who work with the church in Sofia, as well as with the leaders of the Sofia congregation. We also hope to work with other congregations in Bulgaria as opportunities arise.
In addition to regular Sunday Bible study and worship times the Kaiserslautern church also offers video Bible classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings and a college-level course in “How to Study the Bible” on Thursday evenings. The video Bible classes come from the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas. David teaches the Thursday evening class. On Sunday evenings various groups of Christians meet in homes on the military bases or in the villages around Kaiserslautern. They usually have a time of Bible study as well as snacks and fellowship. The congregation plans special events throughout the year to promote fellowship among the local Christians. These are usually theme dinners or fellowship picnics. Our women participate in several women’s fellowship events a year at various places in Germany or other nearby countries. We also promote and support the Christian Youth Camp at Gemunden, Germany.
Kaiserslautern Church of Christ
(Use this address to mail things from civilian post offices in Europe)
Office phone: (49 – country code) 631-950221
Preacher’s home phone: (49) 631-7500678
Kaiserslautern Church of Christ. The Kaiserslautern Church of Christ had many successes during the six years I served as evangelist. I don’t know how many baptisms were performed during the service of other evangelists but I know we baptized numerous people while I was there. Most of those who were baptized were adults. We baptized people from Africa, America, China, Indonesia, and Germany. There may have been some from other countries but I don’t remember now.
When I got to K-town I asked the elders if there were any specific topics they wanted me to preach/teach on. They said, “Dave, just preach Jesus!” As that has always been my preference, I was very glad to hear them say it. I immediately began preaching through the Gospel of Mark on Sunday mornings. I continued to preach through Old and New Testament books during my tenure at K-town. For the first Sunday morning adult Bible study series, I presented a series of lessons I’d developed while at the Christian Campus Center at Grayson County College, titled “Who is my brother?” I took the title and theme from a book by the same name, by F. LaGard Smith. However, my series did not follow Smith’s book.
I was quite surprised as well as pleased when a number of adults were baptized as a result of the “Who is my brother?” series. What I found out was that some of people who attended the church did so because of their spouses. It seems that this was most true of wives attending the “church” of their husbands. Many of the women who we baptized during this time had never been immersed for the remission of their sins. Most had come out of other fellowship backgrounds and were baptized as infants. The really surprising thing to me is that they said they’d never heard a clear explanation of the purpose, mode, and necessity of believers’ baptism. I think this speaks volumes about a short-coming in our teaching and preaching. Either we believe a person must be baptized as a mature believer, or we don’t! That so many wives could attend churches of Christ for years and not understand that astounded me and still does.
Soon after arriving at K-town I started a community English reading program. I posted announcements on the glassed-in bulletin board on the front of our building which offered free English reading and speaking classes using the English Bible as the text. This is a system used very effectively by groups such as “Let’s Start Talking” and individual missionaries in various countries. I led a “Let’s Start Talking” group to Eindhoven, The Netherlands, in 1995 (while I was a campus minister in Texas). It was very successful. The following year I led another group to Athens, Greece, but not under the direction of “Let’s Start Talking.” Without the backing and support of the tried and true “Let’s Start Talking” administration we had very little success in Greece. I had also participated in a similar six-week program in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, in 1993 (while I was the evangelist at the Wolfforth, TX, Church of Christ), which was very successful. Several people from the K-town church volunteered to help me with the English reading students. Most notable for her willingness to help was Daphne Ciufo. We had some German high school students who came to the classes regularly for a couple of years. Also, some of the foreign students from the International University in Kaiserslautern came to improve their English using the Bible. Several baptisms took place as a result of these classes.
When I got to K-town there were one or two Indonesian students who attended the church. They came because they wanted to fellowship with other Christians and they understood English better than they did German. The International University in Kaiserslautern had many programs for people from foreign countries and they offered many of the classes in English. The Indonesian students who were already attending began to invite other foreign students because they liked how I taught and preached and they liked the warm acceptance they received from the members of the congregation. Soon, we had a number of foreign students who attended regularly. About a year after I got to K-town, three of the Indonesian students, Hanna, Shanti, and Mira, asked if we could start a week night Bible study just for the international students. We did and it became very popular. The program continued until I left in 2006. At its height, we had as many as 20 students in these in-depth studies. They represented Indonesia, Germany, China, Africa, Russia, Georgia, America, and other countries. Several baptisms resulted from these classes. Several of the deacons of the church helped organize and teach these classes. Mike Powell was instrumental at the beginning and then Steve Wolfe took over when Mike was transferred. Not only did these guys help with the group, they got valuable Bible teaching experience.
As I mentioned earlier, I spent six weeks in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, in 1993 as part of a four-man team teaching English using the Bible. The program had been set up a couple of years earlier by Royce Sartain and Nat Cooper, who were both associated with the Sunset International Bible Institute. They enlisted college students to go to Blagoevgrad in the summer to teach the classes. The program became so successful that they didn’t want to stop it during the winter months so they recruited four men to go in January and February of 1993. We were followed by two married couples from the Monterey Church of Christ in Lubbock, TX. While I was in Bulgaria I was asked to travel to Sofia (the capital) for the first three or four Sundays to preach in the place of the missionary, Tom Black, who was in the States having surgery. I met Tom and his wife, Sheryl, on my last trip to Sofia to preach. After I started working at K-town I contacted the Blacks and they invited me to come to Sofia to preach and teach for a couple of days. I also contacted friends from Blagoevgrad and planned a visit with them. The Christians in Bulgaria asked if it would be possible for me to come back to preach and teach from time to time. They always liked hearing preachers from America and it was much cheaper and easier for me to travel from Germany than other preachers from America. I discussed the request with the elders in K-town and they agreed it would be a good mission work for us. Starting in November of 2000, I made two or three two-week mission trips to Bulgaria every year. More about those trips in another post.
I believe the six years I spent as the evangelist of the K-town Church of Christ were good years for the congregation. We witnessed numerous baptisms and we reached out to people from many countries. Many of the American Christians who attended during those years were strengthened in their faith and learned how to become more effective and involved in the work of the Lord.
Grandson, Corbin, and top of head of granddaughter, Riley, in renovated preacher apartment living room of K-town church building. Taken in 2005.
Kaiserslautern Church of Christ. We completely remodeled the preacher’s apartment in the K-town church building at 34 Muhlstrasse, in downtown Kaiserslautern. The American preacher’s apartment was on the third floor (in Europe the ground floor is not counted, the next floor is called the first floor, the next is the second floor, and etc.). The apartment had a kitchen/dining room (really too small to consider it for both—we ate in the living room most of the time), a rather large living room, two bedrooms, and a bathroom.
There was linoleum on the floors of the kitchen and bathroom. Actually, there were several layers of linoleum on the floors. The underflooring was poured cement. There were several places where water had seeped under the old linoleum and the cement had dissolved. One of these places was right in front of the sink in the kitchen—one stood in a bit of a depression to wash dishes! It felt as if there was water under the linoleum when you walked on it because of the several layers that had been added. The windows in the entire building were the original wood-framed, single glass type. They leaked air and every sound from the street below came straight into the apartment. The hallway, living room, and both bedrooms had a very old, stained, and nasty beige wall-to-wall carpet. Someone had tried to clean some stains in the living room with bleach so there were a couple of large white spots that couldn’t be covered by furniture. The kitchen furnishings were ancient! The sink wasn’t securely fastened to the wall. The cabinets had doors that wouldn’t stay shut and drawers that didn’t open easily. The fridge was an antique and the lighting looked original. The spigot wouldn’t shut off and the drain under the sink dripped onto the bottom of the cabinet under the sink. I think you get the picture.
The first thing the elders agreed to do was to replace the original windows with modern, two-paned PVC ones. Next, they put tile on the hallway, bathroom, and kitchen floors. They also had new tile put on the lower half of the bathroom walls and the lower half of the kitchen walls. In order to install the tile we had to remove (and throw away) everything from the kitchen. We decided to keep the sink, toilet, and tub in the bathroom to keep the costs down. They were old and a bit stained, but they were functional. We bought all new kitchen furnishings from IKEA. We had to put assemble all the IKEA furniture, but it was very sturdy and an amazing improvement over the old, broken junk we threw out. We also bought a new fridge (that we transported from Mainz-Kastel furniture store (near Frankfurt) in the back of Ford station wagon that Ray Willcox let us borrow until our Honda Passport arrived in port.
After the windows and tile were installed, I began to paint and paper the walls. I first had to remove several layers of old wallpaper. I don’t know what kind of paste they’d used to apply the old paper, but it was almost impossible to remove. I had to soak it with water and then slowly scrape it off, layer by layer. After removing all the old paper I had to fill in holes and rough places before painting or putting on new paper. The entire process (we did every room in the apartment) took a couple of years. I also installed new wood flooring in the living room and both bedrooms. I used synthetic wooden-styled flooring in the bedrooms but opted for real wood for the living room. The elders allowed me to buy a small, portable table saw to make the installations easier. It came in very handy.
When we finished, the apartment looked pretty good. I left all the new kitchen furniture, most of the new bedroom furniture, and some new living room furniture in the apartment when I moved back to the States in 2006. The church had bought the kitchen furnishings but I had bought most of the other stuff and couldn’t afford to ship it home.
While I worked with the church we also raised funds to replace the roof over the auditorium and the extremely inefficient and unreliable oil-burning heater which heated water for the whole building (for heating as well as washing/bathing). We converted to city-supplied hot water just before I moved away.
For the first four years at K-town, I used a small classroom on the fourth floor as my office. It was really too small and it badly needed updating. I asked the elders if I could renovate a larger room across the hall and use it as an office. It had been used as a guest bedroom as well as a classroom in the past. I stripped off the old wall paper, removed an old sink and heater, installed a real wood floor, papered and painted the walls, installed new lighting, and bought new furniture for the room. It served me very well the rest of the time I was at K-town.
New paint job on front of K-town building. Taken June 2010.
Kaiserslautern Church of Christ. Our move to K-town was interesting, to say the least. We owned a house near Sherman, Texas, that we let our oldest daughter Jennifer and her family rent. I also let them use the 1993 Buick that I’d bought from my father, when he became too sick to drive. We had a very large workshop/garage on the property where we stored all our furniture and anything we didn’t want to take to Germany.
The elders of the K-town church gave us a $5000 moving allowance, in addition to our airplane tickets. When we visited the church in October 1999, we saw that the preacher’s apartment hadn’t been upgraded since we’d lived there for a few months in 1984. Much of the same furniture was still in the apartment. As a matter of fact, there was a large, adjustable table in the living room that was broken (you couldn’t adjust it up and down as designed) when we first lived there. The same, broken table was still in the apartment when we move back in February 2000. I have no idea how long it had been in the apartment before we first saw it in 1984! We didn’t want to ship any furniture to Germany so we asked the elders if we didn’t use all the $5000 for moving our possessions if we could use any remaining money to upgrade the apartment. They agreed to this. We shipped a 1995 Honda Passport SUV that Deborah used in Texas. We shipped it from Houston to Zeeburgge, Belgium. Then, instead of packing a shipping container with our stuff which would have cost most of the $5000, we mailed over 70 boxes of clothing, books, family photos, and other small things we thought we’d need. Layne, the treasurer of the church, let us mail the boxes to his military address, which saved us lots in postage fees.
We flew into Frankfurt on February 3, 2000. Thom Hackett, one of the elders, picked us up at the airport in his Jeep Cherokee. I remember him driving over 100 mph most of the way back to K-town while looking over to the front passenger seat to talk to me. I knew of the high-speed Autobahns of Germany but I wasn’t used to traveling at over 100 mph and it made me nervous—especially since it seemed that Thom wasn’t keeping his eyes on the road. I remember telling him of my nervousness and asking him to slow down just a bit. He did. After we lived there for just a short time, I was driving at those same over-100 mph-speeds myself!
A shot of the auditorium of the K-town Church of Christ building from the "preacher's viewpoint" taken sometime around 2005. The antiquated seating has been in the building since we first lived on Ramstein in 1984.
Kaiserslautern Church of Christ. I moved to Kaiserslautern, Germany, to work as the evangelist of the Kaiserslautern Church of Christ on February 3, 2000. My wife, Deborah, moved there with me. I worked there until the end of May 2006.
We had been living in Gun Barrel City, Texas, where Deborah worked for the city in economic development. She had taken the job with high hopes but quickly became discouraged because of the small-town political fussing. I saw an ad for a preacher for the Kaiserslautern church on Edward Fudge’s webpage. I called to see if the job was still open and when I was told it was, I applied. We were invited to Kaiserslautern at the end of October of 1999 to meet the church and to preach. We stayed a week. At the end of the week the elders asked us to move there to work with the church. We told them the earliest we could get there would be the first of February. They said that would be OK. We returned to Gun Barrel City and Deborah gave notice that we’d be leaving after the first of the year. The elders who hired me were Dennis Cherry, Thom Hackett, and Ray Willcox.
I had been stationed at Ramstein Air Base near Kaiserslautern from 1984-1986. We worshipped at the K-town (what all the Americans call Kaiserslautern) church while we were stationed there. We even lived in the preacher’s apartment in the church for a couple of months after we moved up from Athens, Greece. It was difficult to find a house large enough for our family and there were no open houses on base. There was no preacher at the church at that time so we asked the men of the church if we could stay there until we found a place. It was a small, two bedroom apartment, but it worked for a short time. Carl Kallus and his wife lived in the apartment below us. He was the preacher for the German congregation that also met at the building at 34 Muhlstrasse. Our five little ones (ages 3-11 at the time) made lots of noise, stomping around on the floor and it bothered the Kalluses more than once. There were no elders or deacons at the K-town church during our time there in ’84-’86. I volunteered to work in the area of evangelism. I have many good memories of the church from those first two years in the mid-‘80s. It was those good memories, and a desire to return to Europe after having been stationed in Greece, Germany, and Belgium, from 1983-1989, that drove me to apply for the preaching position at K-town in 1999.