A PULPIT exchange was held between a church in London and one in Berlin to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War last Sunday.
The Rector of St Bride’s, Canon Alison Joyce, preached at St Paul’s, Berlin, in German, while Pastor Barbara Neubert of St Paul’s, Berlin, addressed St Bride’s.
Both St Bride’s and St Paul’s were destroyed by bombing in the Second World War, before being rebuilt in the 1950s.
Canon Joyce’s grandfather fought at the Battle of the Somme in 1916; her father served in the Royal Naval Reserve during the Second World War. In her sermon in St Paul’s, she said: “I cannot tell you how much it would have meant to my grandfather, and to my father, for them to know that I am here today, in Berlin.”
Speaking in German, she told the congregation that violence bred violence, cycles of aggression and retaliation could seem endless, “until someone comes along who is prepared to receive the full force of that violence, and, instead of retaliating, absorbs it.”
Pastor Neubert told the congregation in St Bride’s: “In Germany, we still face the immense burden of understanding the evil we did to so many people from ’33 to ’45, that we easily forget to think more carefully about what happened only 20 to 25 years before, between 1914 and 1918.”
She expressed gratitude for the British custom of remembrance: “Men and women who suffered greatly during the Great War teach us a lot about what it needs to live in peace together.”
Speaking after the service, she said: “The vote for Brexit made me very sad. An exchange of pulpits, and worshipping together, is what we as Christians can do to stay united. I hope that this makes peace in Europe stronger.”