The formation of the Hope Center
The roots of the Hope Center go back quite a few years. One such root was comprised of the initiative of Christians from various churches in Schkeuditz for “ProChrist 1999”, the evangelistic commitment of Andreas Haller, and the social-evangelistic mission of Elli Gödicke. From these initiatives, the “Hope for All” Association was formed.
A second root can be found with Missionary Jonas Stoltzfus. After the reunification of Germany, he worked in Leipzig and the surrounding areas. He gave particular attention to Schkeuditz with the goal of planting a free church here. However, it was not until after he retired in the USA that the school in the Lessing Street became available. At a seminar in 2004, Jonas had shared is vision for this house, which had already stood empty for 10 years. Out of consideration for this older brother, the members in Schkeuditz cautiously examined their means. Basically, to venture into such a task with no means at all requires a lot of boldness. Or perhaps after such a long period of vacancy, the city, as the rightful owner, would give the building free of charge or for a symbolic price. But after a conversation with the person in charge, there was little hope of that. On the contrary, there was a fix price of 60,000-80,000€. However, the main goal was not the purchase of a building, but rather the building up of a free church with an evangelistic and missions focus. So, in 2004, a church planting team was formed under the direction of Andreas Haller and missionaries Craig and Debbie Borgard, who were continuing the work of Jonas Stoltzfus; and by December 2004 the team had laid the foundation for a church plant as the “daughter church” of the Brethren Church Jacobstrasse in Leipzig.
Now the search was on for a suitable meeting place for the church. After various alternatives to the building in the Lessing Street were inspected, we realized that there were no other possibilities. So in January 2005, we made an appointment to speak with the mayor again to negotiate the building at Lessing Street 2. The mayor was very open about our requests and about our concept for the house, which we had presented to him. However, since our last inquiry, the city had put the building up for auction and no longer had access to it. The only thing they could do was to give us the contact information for the auctioneer and to let us know of the auction date on May 28, 2005. It was clear to us that if this was to be the building for our work in Schkeuditz, God could pave the way for that to happen. We were not in a position to put down the minimum bidding price of 15,000€, nor did we have any way of knowing if there were others interested in bidding on this building. Above all, during this time Schkeuditz experienced an enormous revaluation through a decision from DHL to expand the airport here to become its European hub. The hammer fell at 28,000€ in our favor—the exact amount of the donations which had come in through astonishing ways up until this point.
On August 28, 2005, the building at Lessing Street 2 was inaugurated as “The Hope Center” Schkeuditz. Since then the Brethren Church of Schkeuditz and the “Hope for All” Assoc. have their home here.
“Hope for All” Assoc.
In the 2002, Christians from various churches in the region founded the “Hope for All” Association. The main concern of this association is to be an effective interdenominational, social, and evangelistic entity.
Evangelistic Free Church
in association with the “Evangelistic Free Churches of Germany”
Together with all the Christian churches, we believe that there is Good News for the world. “Evangelistic” comes from the Greek word, Euangelion, and means “glad tidings”. Through His Son Jesus of Nazareth, God revealed Himself to mankind as a God of love. He offers us a new beginning for our lives. By trusting in Jesus Christ and His “glad tidings”, we can live a fulfilled life, as it conforms to the purposes of God.
We stand in the tradition of those protestant churches, which had their beginnings with Martin Luther and the other reformers.
Beyond that we emphasize two further points:
Every person of full age is personally responsible before God, namely for his life here and for his eternity.
Without personal faith, no one can be a Christian. That means: after we have been told about Jesus Christ, we must make a personal decision.
Indicates for us many things:
No one is “born into” our church. Parents do not determine whether he or she becomes a Christian. Everyone may voluntarily decide to become a Christian and be baptized. We call this “Baptism of Faith”.
“Free-church” means that we are independent from the State. We do not live from the church tax, but rather from the free-will offering of our members.
“Free-church” stands for the autonomy of our local church. This applies to the entire structure of the church ministry, e.g. the structure of the church service, the finances, and distinct church ordinances.
The church budget is met solely through the voluntary offerings and donations of church members and friends of the church. This is not obligatory; and therefore, this freedom gives our church a particular aliveness.
Through faith, no one remains alone. The believer lives and grows in the place where other people worship God together and listen to his Word. We come together for church services, meet in various groups, read the Bible together, sing, pray, and support one another through conversations and practical help. As those who are joined together through faith in Jesus Christ, we want to live together, listen to one another, be there for each other, and together share the “Good News” with the people of our city.
The Brethren movement, which began in Germany around 1850, is a branch of the Great Awakening and Faith movement that goes back to 16th century and the Reformation breakthrough of biblical faith in Christ. In light of the varying state and free-church groupings, many Christians in the 19th century were stirred to seek an answer for the question of unity in the church of Jesus Christ. Out of this search for unity, the Brethren movement came into existence; first in Great Britain, and then also in Germany. The intent was not only to form a new free church, but also to testify to the unity of the church of Christ, which is open to every true believer with an emphasis on fellowship, especially in the taking of communion. From this understanding, the movement of the so-called “open brothers” began. In England, the Christians were already known as “brothers” (Brethren) because they called each other “brother”, as well as celebrated and led their worship gatherings in a very familial way. This was done in accordance with the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:8ff:
“…for you have one teacher, and all are your brothers.”
…in alliance with the Evangelistic Free-church Churches (Ltd.)
There are various forms of Brethren churches in Germany, as well as various, more or less fixed intercommunal associations. A portion of the Brethren churches affiliated themselves with the “Council of Brethren Churches” (“Arbeitsgemeindschaft der Brüdergemeinden” or AGB, translated “working together of the Brethren churches”), which was founded in 1980. This Council is not a Church. However, it offers the churches necessary legal accountability where they need it. The Alliance of Evangelistic Free-church Churches owns the right of public corporation (Ltd.). It has an administrative office in Leipzig, is recognized as a partner of the local churches, and coordinates the various functions of these churches. A significant characteristic of this Council lies in the term “working together”. There are certain responsibilities, which would be difficult for one church alone to manage. Therefore, the churches themselves need fellowship with one another. This is where the biblical principle “carry one another’s burdens” is applied. (Gal. 6:2).