Kiss me. I’m Wendish!

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Credit: Jim Nix

Today’s edition marks the beginning of the tenth year of Perspectives. For the past 468 Thursdays at 5:00 a.m. an article has been posted. Each year I ask myself how long I’ll continue meeting this self-imposed weekly deadline, grinding out an article of interest and value to you, my readers.

Last year I expressed that wonderment and received in the mail a beautiful sport shirt with the stars and stripes of our U.S. flag and an unsigned note encouraging me to keep writing. Thank you to the yet unknown anonymous donor. I’m still writing. At least for now. So stay tuned. Here we go.

For years I’ve seen a lapel button that reads: Kiss me. I’m Wendish! To those of Wendish descent, those words are meaningful. For those who have never heard of Wends, they mean absolutely nothing.

Here’s a portion of a brief introduction to Wendish history, written by Ron Lammert and published January 1, 2010 (http://texaswendish.org/): “Who Are the Wends?”

In December of 1854, an English sailing vessel, the Ben Nevis, docked in Galveston harbor loaded with some 500 immigrants from Lusatia, an area in Germany comprising parts of Saxony and Prussia. These immigrants were not the typical lot of Germans, Swedes, Czechs, and Poles who flocked to Texas in the 1850’s seeking cheap land and economic opportunity. This group was different.

It brought a strange new language to the frontier state — the Wendish language. And even more striking, these Slavic pioneers who were to settle in Lee County made the journey from their homeland, not in search of prosperity, but rather in search of religious liberty and the right to speak their Wendish tongue. 

The Wends were descended from a group of Slavic tribes that had developed a common language, and, in the tenth century, occupied much of central Europe. By the 19th century, the Wends had been decimated by conquest and assimilation with other cultures until only a small area along the River Spree was inhabited by true Wends.

The Wendish migration to Texas was impelled, in part, by the Prussian insistence that the Wends  speak and use the German language, even to the extent of Germanizing their names. The oppression of the Wendish minority extended to working conditions, with Wends being denied the right to do the skilled labor for which they were trained.

But most intolerable was the requirement that the Lutheran Wends join the Evangelical Reform[ed] churches in one state-regulated Protestant body. The Wends believed this action would dilute their pure Lutheran faith and, rather than accept this decree, they made plans to immigrate to the New World.

Since those days nearly 164 years ago, Lutheran Christians, including Wends, Germans, and people of other nationalities, have strived to maintain religious freedom and pure biblical doctrine while also endeavoring to proclaim the Christian faith to all who would listen. More about that next week.

Much has been written, especially during last year’s observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, about the impact of Martin Luther on the church that bears his name. Last year another important publication made a significant contribution to that body of information.

The book is titled Five Centuries: the Wends and the Reformation. Its 99 pages are beautifully illustrated and very nicely bound. It was published by Concordia University Press in Austin and The Wendish Press in Serbin, Texas. This first Wendish coffee table book, the winner of the Concordia Historical Institute Honorable Mention Award, is available for $26 from the Texas Wendish Heritage Society Museum Bookstore, 1011 County Road 212, Giddings, Texas 78942-5940.

Take a look. I think you’ll like it. And you’ll have the added benefit of a glimpse into the faith of the people of my family’s ancestry. Kiss me. I’m Wendish!

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Two Important Opportunities

This Special Edition of Perspectives brings to your attention two important opportunities:

  1. Pastor 360 Summit in San Antonio, Texas – October 11-13, 2016
  2. Reformation Trip with Wendish Territory Option – May 2017

Pastor360 Summit in San Antonio, Texas – October 11-13, 2016

Pastors: Consider how enrolling in the Summit will enhance your life and ministry!

Lay Leaders: Consider encouraging your pastor to attend this important Summit!

Pastor360 was created several years ago by two LCMS pastors and one committed layman. Our coaching staff is comprised of seasoned veteran LCMS pastors with a combined total of more than 160 years of ministry and leadership experience! The objective of Pastor360 is to help pastors make life and ministry better and more effective.

The Summit will focus on numerous topics to accomplish that objective, including:

  • Effective ways to re-energize your ministry and inspire your congregation for mission
  • Effective ways to prepare and deliver sermons that encourage congregational action
  • How to improve physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial health and well being
  • How to avoid and overcome feelings of frustration in tackling ministry challenges
  • How to lead your church with less stress and more balance in your life
  • How to expand leadership qualities and measurable ministry impact

Presenters include Jerry Kieschnick, Bill Tucker, Steve Wagner, Bill Knippa, and Davy Tyburski. Additional presentations from medical and financial professionals, along with Concordia Lutheran Church professional staff, will add value to your life and ministry.

For further information go to Pastor360Summit.com

“In the Footsteps of Martin Luther and the Reformation 2017″– May 9-17, 2017

“Wendish Territory” Pre-Tour Option – May 5-9, 2017

This 500th Anniversary of the Reformation tour is hosted by Lutheran Foundation of Texas, which exists to build God’s kingdom by educating people about the joy of planned giving and facilitating gifts that support Christian ministries. Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Kieschnick will serve as on-site tour hosts.Historic towns on the basic Reformation tour itinerary include Berlin, Wittenberg, Halle, Eisleben, Erfurt, Eisenach, Worms, Heidelberg, and Mainz, returning home from Frankfurt.The Pre-Tour Wendish Territory option includes visits to Dresden, Bautzen, Klitten, Weigersdorf, Hoyerswerda, Schleife, Spreewitz, Raddusch, Cottbus and Lubbenau.

Those who have already visited the Reformation sites and thus are interested only in the Wendish portion of the trip may choose that available option.

For an electronic brochure click here.

If you prefer a printed brochure or have specific questions, send your request, including your name and physical mailing address, via email to GBJK@LFOT.org or via snail mail or phone call to:

Lutheran Foundation of Texas | 7900 East Highway 290 | Austin, TX 78724-2499 | 512.646.4909

Reformation Trip with Wendish Territory Option

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“In the Footsteps of Martin Luther and the Reformation 2017″— May 9-17, 2017
“Wendish Territory” Pre-Tour Option — May 5-9, 2017

Next year is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a most appropriate time for a trip to Germany to visit the places of importance in the life and ministry of Martin Luther. With great joy I announce the tour noted above! Terry and I are pleased to be your on-site hosts for both the basic tour and the pre-tour option described below.

The tour is hosted by Lutheran Foundation of Texas (LFOT), with travel, lodging and local tour arrangements by Educational Opportunities Tours (EO).

  • LFOT is a Lutheran Christian organization devoted to helping Christian people create a legacy for family and faith based endeavors with assets the Lord has entrusted to their care.
  • EO is a Christian tour company with whom Terry and I have traveled a number of times. They do an excellent job of handling the many details associated with a trip of this nature.

Historic towns on the basic Reformation tour itinerary include Berlin, Wittenberg, Halle, Eisleben, Erfurt, Eisenach, Worms, Heidelberg, and Mainz, returning home from Frankfurt. The basic tour price of $3,448 includes international airfare from New York, with other U.S. cities of departure also available. Early registration discounts are noted in the brochure.

The Pre-Tour option is a four day visit to the ancestral land of those from Wendish heritage. Towns on this itinerary include Dresden, Bautzen, Klitten, Weigersdorf, Hoyerswerda, Schleife, Spreewitz, Raddusch, Cottbus and Lubbenau. Those who choose this $1,098 option will depart the U.S. on May 5 and connect on May 10 with the Reformation tour in Berlin.

An electronic brochure can be viewed at this link:  http://www.eo.travelwithus.com/tours/in-the-footsteps-of-martin-luther-the-reformation-2017-with-dr-mrs-jerry-kieschnick#eotours

If you prefer a printed brochure, please feel free to request one and I’ll be happy to send it to you. Send your request, including your name and physical mailing address, via email to GBJK@LFOT.org or via snail mail to:

Dr. Jerry Kieschnick
Lutheran Foundation of Texas
7900 East Highway 290
Austin, TX 78724-2499

If you have questions best answered over the phone, feel free to call me at 512.578.6035. Terry and I hope you’ll be able to join us on what promises to be a trip of a lifetime!