A Project of the Nations
Poznan Poland's "Second Baptist Church" celebrated the rededication of its chapel on October 19, 1997 in an attitude of gratitude and wonder. Though the congregation had been allowed to use parts of the basement until 1963, no church service had taken place in the main sanctuary since 1945. The 1910-built church had been officially confiscated by the state in 1963.
Only seven months ago, the sorry state of both the building and the church's building fund had appeared to rule out any purchase. Ryszard Gutkowski, General-Secretary of the Polish Baptist Union, had to concede in his sermon: "I was a pessimist, but God is greater." "Miracles still happen," the Berliner Baptist Rainer Zincke concluded. "We're sitting in one." Approximately 10 Germans who had once belonged to this congregation also attended the festivities. They told of their amazement upon reading in the German Baptist paper that the chapel would be reopened. Lydia Schoenberg of Wittstock, Germany, who had been baptized in this church in 1931, also came. "There's no one here whom I knew back then," she concluded. "But you are still the same." "That we can still see this with our own eyes!" was the predominant attitude among the elderly guests from Germany. The delegation from Wittstock even brought along sufficient contributions to pay for the replacement of two large windows. "But we haven't stopped collecting donations," they added.
This chapel in the Ulica Przemyslowa 48a narrowly escaped becoming a fitness center or discotheque. The required purchase price of 125,000 zloty (67,000 German marks) was only met several days prior to the final expiration date of March 31. Rainer Zincke, a layman, had first visited the congregation on March 19. Having his car stolen on that first day did not deter him though from returning home and collecting loans totaling 23,000 marks within a three-day period. That opened the door for a mission society in Arizona/USA to make a large donation.
Mr. Zincke's wife, Eta Zincke, concluded: "Someone didn't want this project to happen. God has such grand plans for this congregation that the Enemy thought it worth his time to try and halt developments." This theologically charismatic congregation does indeed offer cause for optimism: Meetings began in a culture hall in 1995 with 22 members, 51 members and 60-80 persons now attend regularly. Pastor Piotr Ozana is one of only two members stemming from a Protestant background. Virtually no members are older than 40.
Thanks to the Internet, it had been possible to weave a worldwide network of interested Christians within a matter of weeks. In his quest for funding, Pastor Ozana had scattered 1,600 letters throughout the cyberworld. "Without Internet, there would be no chapel now," Rainer Zincke maintains.
The "Second Baptist Church" appears to be a project of the nations. Besides funding from Germany and the USA, floor tile arrived from England and a dissolved Berlin congregation contributed furniture. A lorry owned by a Belgian congregation brought used chairs to Poznan from Herrenberg (near Stuttgart).
The city of Poznan (population 800,000) presently has 500 Protestants worshiping in five congregations. Only the mother church (the "First Baptist Church") and a Lutheran congregation also possess chapels.
Berlin, den October 22, 1997
Written for the “European Baptist Press Service” in Hamburg, 525 words