In the wake of the disastrous flooding in Germany, Bishop Zoltán Balog, ministerial president of the Synod of RCH expressed the solidarity of the Hungarian reformed community with partner churches in Germany and invited children of the affected families to Hungary. The Presidium of RCH answered the initiative of the Church of Rhinland positively and issued a call for congregations of the Hungarian reformed community in and around Hungary to ring the bells of the churches at 6 PM on Friday, 23 July, and pray for the victims of the excessive flooding in Germany.
“We have been shocked to see the pictures and read the news and personal testimonies about the terrible extent of the flood disaster in Germany, especially about the destruction of whole settlements by the deluge in North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria,” reads in the letter of solidarity which Bishop Zoltán Balog, ministerial president of the Synod of RCH has sent to German partner churches. “I would like to express, on behalf of the whole Hungarian reformed community, my sympathy and solidarity and assure you of our thoughts and prayers for the affected families and congregations, as well as the first responders, ministers and professionals offering pastoral care in the emergency.”
As long-standing partner churches, we pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering, as well as for the countless people, including pastors and church members, who have been actively helping in the time of need, demonstrating solidarity and encouraging signs togetherness.
“Last but not least, we pray for the Churches, which in the face of the disaster are called to bear witness to hope in word and deed. Jesus has revealed to us that even in the midst of the mud of the flood, God is on the side of the suffering people,” continues the letter. “We share this conviction of faith and would like to be on your side ourselves while actively demonstrating our Christian solidarity,” assures the Bishop heads of German partner churches, inviting them to consider the offer of RCH to receive children from affected families and congregations to spend a free holiday in one of the conference centres of RCH.
Ringing and praying in the face of the flood disaster
In view of the suffering and hardship that the disaster has brought upon many people, the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland is calling for a sign of cohesion. Congregations and institutions will ring their bells and celebrate a devotion this Friday, July 23, at 6 pm. “Let us together make it audible that we support each other, pray for each other and stand up against the destructive forces of chaos in following Christ,” encouraged Präses Dr. Thorsten Latzel partner churches around the world. The Presidium of RCH answered the initiative positively and issued a call to Hungarian reformed congregations in and around Hungary to ring the bells of the churches and pray for the victims of the excessive flooding in Germany.
“Hope is something we can only have together. Hope is what binds us together, no matter what religion or origin we have,” said Latzel during his visits at local communities severly hit by the flood. „Hope let people get up again, even after such a flood give the strength not to give up.”
Rev. Barbara Rudolph, member of the church leadership and head of the Theological and Ecumenical Department of the Evangelical Church in Rhinland in her anwer referred to Psalm 69 whihc in these days gained new meaning for the Church: „Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.”
"In such a situation it is comforting to know that people are thinking of us and praying for us. The wave of the storm has destroyed human lives and entire livelihoods, plunging many into despair. The wave of sympathy from all over the world gives us comfort and hope," she said on behalf of the Church leadership.
Quoting Psalm 69 again, "Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me", Barbara Rudolph expressed that she experienced the letter of solidarity as such a turn of God to her. "The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland has often taken part in the concerns and needs of its partner churches. Now we need your prayers. I thank you for the closeness you give us from afar."
Rudolph especially thanked for the offer of RCH, inviting children to Hungary from families affected by the floods. "We have gladly included this invitation in the list of offers of help for the affected congregations. I also thank you for forwarding our appeal to the local churches to ring the bells today at 6.00 pm as a sign of cohesion. We are very touched and understand this as a special - audible - sign of fraternal togetherness and solidarity," closes the letter.
It is one of the worst storm disasters in the history of Germany: at least 170 people were killed in the floods in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia. Bavaria is also badly hit by the storm. Thanks to the overwhelming willingness to donate, the local Protestant Churches and Diaconal organisations can now provide four million euros for those affected, in a first step.
In the meantime, a 'flood of solidarity' has reached churches in Germany from around the world. The Word Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) has also called for meaningful responses to natural disasters, "the immediate response being of rescue and relief but the longer-term goals of rehabilitation of damaged communities, property, and ecosystems."
"We must recognize that ecumenism means recognizing the entire planet as the habitat of humans, animals, and plant life. We are integrally linked one with another. Not just humans across this world but connected with animal and plant life. That we cannot exist, leave alone thrive, without each other. And not only with living beings but also with the whole ecological systems, if rivers and forests and mountains are not given their due space, we will face more disasters than we are now. At this moment, what is required is global solidarity, solidarity amid crisis and solidarity for change. Yet we must ensure that this is long-lasting, meaningful solidarity for experience has shown when the situation is dealt with it is the most vulnerable who will continue to be so, and this must not be so," WCRC reminds the worldwide reformed family.