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Visit to the Academy of Hofgeismar

Pastoral Journey to the Evangelical
Academy of Hofgeismar,

August 20-September 15, 2007

Upon the invitation of the Evangelical Academy in Hofgeismar, Germany, the Institute of Theology at the University of Balamand delegated two groups to be introduced to the social and pastoral care of the Evangelical Church of Kurhessen Waldeck. The first group consisted of Father Bassam Nassif and Mr. Jihad El-Bitar, and the second group of Archimandrite Isaac Barakat and Brother Isaac Zeina. The first group traveled from August 20 till August 31, and the second group from August 30 till September 15, 2007.

Upon arrival to Hofgeismar, both groups were welcomed by Dr. Jochen Cornelius-Bundschuh, the seminary Director. Dr. Cornelius-Bundschuh explained the extensive program prepared for us during our stay in the seminary.


On the academic level, we were first introduced to the Seminary staff, faculty, and Library, and to the seminarians. During our stay we attended two classes with the seminarians, one on Homiletics and the other on Moderating Meetings. We were also presented with much information on the Pastors Continuing Education program, and the Lay Preachers Education program, two major learning processes supporting the work of the church in the service of the parishioners. During our journey we also had the great opportunity to visit the city of Marburg and the St. Elizabeth Church, the University of Marburg.


The second group spent a few days at the University of Marburg and was the guests of Professor Hage. Archimandrite Isaac discussed with Professor Pengera a possible cooperation between the Chair of Oriental Churches Studies and the Institute of Theology at Balamand.


On the pastoral level, the two groups were introduced to different parishes and programs, especially the mentoring program which allows the seminarians to be under the direct guidance of a parish priest during his/her two years of seminary. We had the opportunity to discuss different challenges facing the pastoral life of the parishes, such as youth participation, confirmation classes, elderly home visitations, parish council meetings, church maintenance, and financial contributions of the parishioners.

Also, the second group visited a brotherhood and sisterhood belonging  the Evangelical Church of Kurhessen Waldeck, and was introduced to its community fellowship and prayer life.


On the social level, we participated in a large youth meeting which included about five hundred teenagers whom the church gathered to discuss different subjects such as volunteer work, Diet and Bulimia, Rap Music, economic and Fair Trade, love and relationships, sexual harassment, peer pressure, greediness in society, church and youth, etc. We were informed about the Diakonie counseling centers of the church dealing with various social problems of different people, open to all, Christians, and non-Christians. The Diakonie centers are run by the churchs counseling specialists. In addition to the elderly homes, and the Diakonie centers, the church runs many Kindergarten schools to prepare thousands of children to enter elementary school at the age of seven.


Another major encounter we had was with Dr. Werner Vogel, the Director of the hospital for the elderly in Hofgeismar. The teams working in this highly developed and specialized rehabilitation hospital and in different homes for the elderly include pastors, psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors, neurologists, social workers and many others. The involvement of the church in this domain helps the elderly die in faith and peace, in the hope of the resurrection and eternal life.


Also, the second group visited a church institution in Kassel, which cares for people with disabilities.


The striking role of the evangelical church in society is a living witness to Christ. The churchs aim is to help society find the loving face of the Savior in every fade of life.


Also, we were invited to visit the Documenta XII Modern Art Exhibition in the city of Kassel,



On the official church level, the church invited us to visit the main administration building and explained to us the role of   the different departments within the church. In this occasion, the First Group had a meeting with Dr. William Richebacher, the Executive Secretary for Mission and Ecumenical Affairs, who welcomed us and discussed with us the meaning of service, and the challenges facing the pastoral and community life both in the Middle East and in Germany. Hence, we noted many matters of mutual concern. We also visited the educational center supporting the Christian Education teachers in schools and the Radio Station of the church.


The Second Group had a meeting with Bishop Martin Hein, Bishop of the Evangelical Church of Kurhessen Waldeck. Archimandrite Isaac discussed strengthening the academic relationship between Balamand and Hofgeismar, and deepening the friendship between Antioch and Kurhessen Waldeck  churches.  Also, this group met Pastor Eberhard Wile from the Mission and Ecumenical Affairs Department. They also attended the annual meeting of the committee working on the Friendship with Antioch, presided by Dr. Martin Luckoff.



We were very touched by the loving hospitality and fellowship which we encountered everywhere, especially with the different church officials which invited us to their homes to meet their families: Pastors George Richter, Konrad Hahn, Dr. Martin Luckhoff, Dr. Rudolf Schmidt, Anne Vilmar. Also, we were honored to meet the Pastors: Jens Haupt, Bruno Inkermann, Bernd Muller, and Martin Happel, Johannes Altmann, Gerahrd Leidorf, all of whom spent much time with us answering our questions and commenting on our observations. It is noteworthy to mention their distinguished dedication and selfless efforts to church service.

We are very grateful for all the true and sincere love we experienced and the Christian fellowship we encountered during our visit.

Scene from the Campus of the Academy in Hofgeismar

Archimandrite Isaac with the Dr. Cornelius-Bundschuh,
 Director of the Academy

St. Elizabeth Church - Marburg

Archimandrite Isaac with Dr. Hein,
Bishop of
Kurhessen Waldeck


Meeting of the Friendship with Antioch Committee

Visiting the brotherhood of the church


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