Cross Of Nails Joins Coventry And Dresden

Both Coventry Cathedral and the Frauenkirche in Dresden were destroyed during World War II. Directly after the Cathedral of Coventry had been bombed by the Germans in 1940, the then Provost Howard made a commitment not to revenge, but to reconciliation. From this sprang the Community of the Cross of Nails – a movement of reconciliation between countries and peoples, with strong bonds between Coventry and Dresden.

Against this background the idea emerged to have an Anglican Evening Prayer at the rebuilt and rededicated  Frauenkirche on the third Sunday every month. In 2006 Pfarrerin Ulrike Birkner-Kettenacker in Dresden and Canon Paul Oesterreicher in Coventry suggested these services, supported by St George’s Anglican Church in Berlin.

Anglican Worship at the Frauenkirche consists of Evening Prayer and is popular with, usually, about 300 people. The Frauenkirche is not a parish church with a regular congregation. Like many English Cathedrals the Frauenkirche has people come for special events, or is in itself  a special event. Therefore a large part of the congregation are usually tourists who want to experience worship in this amazing church.

A few regulars come every month and we meet them after the service in one of the restaurants round the Frauenkirche for a glass of wine and conversation – an idea from a member of the Berlin congregation.  Many of the people who come don’t even speak English. But they seem to enjoy the Service, anyway. ”O, I don’t speak English, but it was a wonderful service”. It gives a new insight into theexperience of speaking in tongues!

Six years after the start of Evening Prayer at the Frauenkirche, we see people who are comfortable with the liturgy and enjoy what is different and new for them, like standing for the hymns or having the clergy shaking hands and saying good bye at the exit at the end of the service - something rarely done in German churches.

Over the years a considerable number of clergy from the UK have led Evening Prayer at the Frauenkirche, strengthening the bond between Germany and Great Britain, both, in the spirit of the Cross of Nail Movement and the Meissen Agreement. As one of the vergers of the Frauenkirche once confided he found a special beauty in Anglican worship and he wished people would stand for the hymns in protestant services, too. “You simply can sing louder and with more gusto,” he explained.

Contributed by Irene Ahrens.