For some of the members of the Valparaiso University Chorale, returning to Mark Zwuschen felt like returning home after the last visit in 2010. This visit truly has had the greatest impact on many. Two years ago, the Chorale was invited to Mark Zwuschen to participate in a ceremony celebrating the completion of a little church in Mark Zwuschen. This was the first construction of a church in East Germany since the Iron Curtain came down at the end of the Cold War, in 1991. From 1945 to 1991 no new church had ever been allowed to be built in East Germany. As you can understand, the significance of the tiny building, partly complete in 2010, is great for the people of Mark Zwuschen and Germany’s progress as a country moving forward.
Pastor Meinhof and his parish welcomed the Chorale back with wonderful food, celebration, laughter and moments for reflection. As he guided us on a tour of Wittenberg and Jüterbog, he spoke openly about his struggles during his time as a student during communist rule. Even though it was not intentional, Pastor Meinhof story has left a lasting impression on us all.
The group was welcomed at the little chapel by a crowd of locals, arriving by car, bike, and foot through the fields of Mark Zwuschen to hear the Chorale sing. The group sang outside because the walls of this small sacred place could hold so few. The clouds parted as the group sang, showering the group in sunlight. It was incredible to watch. After the service, food, music and conversation with local members continued for hours. Some relationships formed that day will continue long after we return home. Being witness to the events on this day was truly a blessing.
The smiling man holding a key in the photo below is the Chorale’s dear friend, Pastor Meinhof.