Direct / Inauguration of the First Ecumenical Church in Romania
The small country borough Iacobeni, called before Jakobsdorf, witnessed the inauguration of the first ecumenical church. After Transylvanian Saxons had left Romania more than 10 years ago, what had once been the evangelic basilica was saved from decay. The German priest of the Independent Catholic Church, member of the ICCC (the International Council of Community Churches USA), completely renovated the interior of the church, whose origins date back to around the 14th century, displaying the insignia of all Christian churches, including those of the Mosaic church. Don Demidoff, describing in his book "The Priest of Thorns" (ISBN 973-0-03816-3) his activity with and for the abandoned children in Romania, also shows the reactions against this ecumenical church. The renovation costs have been borne from the "Compensations for moral wrongs". These are the amounts awarded to Demidoff, in the wake of the libel lawsuits, won in the German, Swiss and Romanian courts. Every Sunday, more than 200 Gypsies (Romany), get together at the divine service, in the "Community Church" in Iacobeni.
Inauguration of the Ecumenical Church in Iacobeni
"On Monday, May 2, 2005, at 5.00 p.m. we celebrated the first divine service, in a church with a completely renovated interior, in Iacobeni. Welcome! We are celebrating together with our guests, as well as with the villagers in Iacobeni, with the children from Großschenk and with our friends from Germany. Celebration: Pater Don Demidoff and Bishop Friedrich Preissler of the Trinitarian Evangelic – Lutheran Church in Crottendorf, Erzgebirge, Germany, together with the choir Sf. Nicolae of the Orthodox Church in Agnita, under the direction of Prof. Doru Paul Nitescu."
Thus sounded the invitation launched by Pater Don Demidoff to the first divine service in the church with a completely renovated interior in Iacobeni. We can see what he managed to make of our ancient church. We thank him and his foundation, "Casa Don Bosco", that spared no effort and means to save this church from decaying. Pater Don Demidoff made thus proof once again, apart from his lifetime work "The Children from Großschenk", of his beneficial influence.
The evangelic church in Iacobeni has been renovated and further serves as an ecumenical house of the Lord. Photo: Martin Eichler
The bells herald the service of the Lord. The church is filled with local people (300 people) to the last seat. Unfortunately, except for Hilda Fielk with her nephew Egon Wonner, Kuno and Karl Martini, as well as Fredi Montsch with his wife, no other Transylvanian Saxon in Iacobeni attended the mass. Pater Don Demidoff celebrated the service in German, Latin and Romanian. The sermon of Bishop Preissler was translated. The children from Großschenk took an active part in the mass, singing songs in Latin, German and Romanian. The mass was accompanied by the Choir of the Orthodox Church in Agnita. The Choir was extremely appreciated for its top class incantations. The service of the Lord ended with the choral piece "Praise Thee, Oh, Great Lord".
Deacon Galter (Sibiu) and Bishop Bolteres in Agnita attended the mass representing the national church. Deacon Galter gave an extremely incisive speech in two languages. Then the floor was given in turn to Mayor Cori of Iacobeni, Karl Martini as representative of the Origin Community in Iacobeni and Prof. Nitescu from the "Casa Don Bosco" Foundation.
The ecumenical church in Iacobeni advances the following theses:
- This place of divine grace should be accessible to everyone. No church rented God and that is why no one can reserve their access to Him.
- God is not a Catholic, is not an Orthodox, is not an Evangelic. He is not one of the members of the Pentecostal Church, is not an Adventist, is not a Charismatic, is not a Protestant.
- God is just God and His Son is Jesus Christ. It is Him we are looking for in this place, it is Him we worship here. It is Him we pray to in this place, regardless of the confession we belong to.
- Let your soul vibrate in this place laden with history. Let us give God another chance without putting Him in the chains of stereotypes. Let us sit in this new – ancient church in Iacobeni, before His unworldly mystery.
Prayers have been uttered in this place for centuries. The church has been restored in keeping with its historical specificity, it has been ecumenically designed and erected to serve for its today’s purpose. It includes various elements of the Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelic rites. For the Jews, the star of David and the Menorah, for the Protestant Christians, the Bible and Luther’s portrait, for the Orthodox Christians, the icon, for the Catholic Christians, the sacrament of the altar and the Mother of God, for all Christians, the christening font in the baptism chapel.
Under the altar a tomb was uncovered, dug over years on end. Here can be buried again, in dignity, the relics that were found scattered under the edifice of the church.
There is also a plan to restore the organ. The works for the exterior of the church and for the entire church complex are under way. We will be happy with every donation that will help these works. The names of persons donating more than EURO 1,000 will be engraved in the baptism chapel.
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