An Ode to my Church in Wiesbaden, Germany
From Kevin Anthony Stoda, in Philippines, August 2010
For about a half a year now, I have been wanting to write and describe (and try to honor) my church in Wiesbaden, Germany. It is called Gemeinde Christi or Church of Christ (in English). The building has been located on the Lorelei Ring for nearly 4 decades—and some members of the congregation can still remember when it moved there from nearer to downtown.
When I first visited the small Gemeinde Christi congregation in the second week of January 2009—I was astounded that it was a truly multicultural (and multilingual) fellowship, with service simultaneously in both German and English each Sunday morning (since the prior summer when the English and German congregations began to meet regularly together for the first time.) I, especially, enjoyed singing in both English and German with my fellow Christians. 
I was overjoyed to come upon this particular Gemeinde Christi fellowship only by perusing the local newspaper and finding an outdated advertisement for the service schedule. Let me explain my joy. When I first came to live in Europe in France in 1983, I had lived in Alsace, where every service had been bilingual—German and French—at the local Mennonite fellowships. In short, by being bilingual, this service in Wiesbaden was both nostalgic for me but also something authentically (multicultural and modern) European. In short, finding a church that was bilingual within a few minutes walk of my apartment that cold winter of 2009 was inspiring.
Moreover, as I soon anticipated that my bride, formerly Maria Victoria M. Baradero, to be able to obtain a German visa and join me in my work in Wiesbaden within a few months, I thought how much quicker Victoria would be able to get to know Germans and get to know the German language by worshipping at the local Gemeinde Christi. This Gemeinde Christi fellowship in Wiesbaden was more than warm. In fact, I was invited to my first home-cooked German meal (and walk or Wanderung) in more than a decade– right after that first service had ended. Hannelore and Manfred Seifarth were my hosts that day. (Later, they would be students of my volunteer English class at the church as well as extremely helpful all-around folk, e.g. helping me find furniture for my flat, giving me advice, etc.)
In April 2009,When I moved out of the flat rented by my firm and into my own apartment in the Oranien Street, many church members came along to assist—acting well above-and-beyond the call of good Christian service or duties. For example, Thomas Meyer spent two different days helping me load furniture up 4 flights of stairs to my new place. Others who did the same, included the pastor, Klaus Fries. Both Thomas and Klaus also helped me with the installation of lights and internet, too. Other families found furniture and kitchen items for my new home. One of the items was a wonderful used bed and frame. Other items included a used dresser and commode.
I could hardly wait till my wife, Maria Victoria, would be able enjoy moving into such a well-furnished flat. My whole volunteer English class (and the whole Gemeinde Christi church) warmed up to the expected arrival of my bride in April and May 2009—alas that arrival would never come, due to draconian anti-East Asian immigration practices in Germany and in most of the continent in 2009-2010. Worse still, between December 2009 and February 2010, my firm, Edgesharp GmbH. was liquidated, owing me between 11,000 and 14,000 Euros.
Because (1) I was then forced to file a lawsuit for my back wages in Germany in 2010 and because (2) I had hopes of either landing a full-time job or several well-paying part-time ones, I continued on living and working in Germany through June 2010. Most importantly, I was encouraged by the prayers and support of many members of my church family to (at the very least) go to the German labor court system and get what the non-really-bankrupt firm, Edgesharp GmbH. still owed my wife and I.
This church family support had become very important for Victoria and I as we had already learned in autumn 2009 that Victoria was pregnant. Eventually, our first daughter would be born on May 8, 2010—on the very day I did my final job interview in Europe, i.e. before determining once and for all to leave the continent for good later that same month.
At the end of April 2010, the congregations membership—including Patricia, Hannelore, Monika, and others helped me clean up and clear out of my old flat—of only one year—in Oranien Street. Meanwhile in April, May and June 2010, I ended up sleeping a total of nearly a dozen nights in one of the spare rooms at the church, the Gemeinde Christi on the Lorelei Ring. By this time, I had been blessed by so many in the congregation. It will be hard to name all names:
–Ruth Krueger for several meals at her home
–Klaus and Sigi for even more meals at their flat
–Alex and his mom in Raunheim for good fellowship and food, too
–Dieter, Monica, Thomas and the otherMeyers for invites and insights
–Tina for some advice
–Uli and Ruth Kreusel for great fellowship
–Juergen and family for translations, articles of goods
–Cliff and Judy for financial support and presents for my baby daughters
–the women of the congregation who gave other presents of clothing for my new born daughter in May of this year
–from the church there was also a letter of support—including one from the church for the Auslandsbehoerde (Visa office) on failed attempts to get justice for my wife
Naturally, many others in the congregation have shared verbal encouragement, prayed for Victoria, baby, and I and done other things for us over the past year.
We love you and pray you all are well and healthy in 2010-2011.
I need not write any recommendation to God for the Gemeinde Christi’s love, care, prayers and support these past two-troubled years, but I do want to take the time to encourage anyone in the Wiesbaden area to consider visiting, supporting, and or joining the congregation.
 Originally Americans—mostly U.S. military personnel had outnumbered the German membership. However, when the U.S. Air Force pulled out of Wiesbaden in the last part of the 20th Century, the American membership fell. Later, after Germany refused to go along with George W. Bush’s War on Iraq in 2003, the U.S. Army’s role in Wiesbaden also diminished. By January 2009, there were only one or two U.S. military personnel any longer attending the Wiesbaden Gemeinde Christi fellowship. However, this could change and there are other Americans and Africans attending the church these days, too.
 Readers from outside Germany should note that it is relatively rare to have a bilingual service—especially in a congregation that has less than 50 people in attendance each week. Many larger Gemeinde Christi churches in Germany, such as one I know in Berlin, were once bilingual but now do their services entirely in German normally—even thought people from five continents are in attendance.