Celebration of old Customs in a New World
It was like stepping into the past. May 16th saw a lot of people flock to the little church on College Street, corner of Lippingcott, which had not been there for a while, because they had moved away. But on this day of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the German Canadian congregation at the church of St. George many parishioners arrived to celebrate. Already outside it could be seen that something special was happening. The steady flow of arrivals went up the few stairs and entered through the adorned doors into the inner sanctum, which was festively decorated with flowers throughout. Each pew had a pretty bouquet attached.
Church elders advised people as to where to sit, and thought of me just as someone to take pictures. Little did they know or remember that I too have plenty of memories that tie me to this church even though I do not belong to this congregation.
Dr. Goegginger, who was there from the very beginning in 1952 as an Assistant Pastor when the first German Canadians congregated together at Sherbourne and Bloor Street and who took over the congregation in full in January of 1954 as a newly formed and full fledged German Canadian congregation at St. George the Martyr became much later, when we founded the paper, a close friend of Echo Germanica. He wrote many an inspiring article of a philosophical and spiritual nature for this, our community based paper and spawned many interesting discussions. His wife Erika and some of the family came that day, too. His first organist, Fekko von Ompteda, a very gifted and amazingly progressive musician actually recruited me into the ranks of German-Canadian cultural activities for shows at the German Club Harmonie on Sherbourne and later also for activities in the basement of the church for this congregation, all of which I have very fond memories of.
Just like myself there were many who had their special memories of life and people. No matter what life held for all of us, Pastor Katharina Möller, installed as the congregations Pastor on Decemer 1st, 2002, reminded us of what is important in the Christian faith by quoting Psalm 103.2: Praise the Lord, my soul, and do not forget how kind he is.
Pastor Möller led in many other pastors who had come to celebrate, as well as Bishop Micheal Pryse, who later, at the appropriate time during the festive service, held a sermon offering his thoughts on the history of the congregation.
I must say, the organ sounded lovely, the church looked great - all freshly renovated, painted and decorated, the organ sounded marvellous and inviting to sing along under the able hands of Elke Eble-Streisslberger and the additional playing of the Pine Ridge Brass, as well as a solo performance by Renita Rietz. This truly was a communal service to be remembered for a long time.
A huge buffet, much of it donated by Ida Brandt, who always has been helpful and generous to this congregation over many years, was just the right thing to stay and reminisce, and perhaps to think about how this congregation can be revitalized even more into a congregation of all ages.
The English and German concept, as it was presented in the service and whole program of the festivities, was a great idea. It was inviting to those that are not fully able to hold their own in German. Thus anyone could participate in what we as a congregation hold dear, and do not want to see swallowed up by the big city and its hectic activities.
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The church holds copies of a Festschrift with all the historical data in English and German. All those who helped to make this such a wonderful occasion a great Thank You.
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