Last year in these pages we explained the longstanding friendship link between Wanstead United Reformed Church, Wanstead Church of England Parish and the protestant church in Engelskirchen, a town situated in the pretty hill country east of Cologne.
The main expression of this link is an annual exchange visit in Easter week. Last year Wanstead received a party of visitors from Engelskirchen; this year a group of fifteen made the return journey, where we enjoyed the hospitality of our hosts’ homes and an interesting and varied programme of activities.
Some of us explored the local countryside on foot. A day in Cologne included a tour of the Dom, one of the largest cathedrals in the country, followed by a visit to the modern Technical College where one of our hosts talked with enthusiasm about developments in his subject, agricultural machinery. Later we visited a Lutheran Church, obviously restored after the devastation of war and serving as a memorial to both its victims and the bombing of Coventry.
Before returning home we shared in Sunday worship at our host church, with David Bird, a local organist and one of our party, playing for the service, and one of our number preaching.
At a time when the shape and nature of future relations between our country and continental Europe is uncertain, it is surely more important than ever that we should maintain and develop such friendships between churches and their members.
Bis zum nächsten Mal, Engelskirchen!