I Sleep in Hitler's Room in NYC
I am a German Lutheran minister living in New York for eleven years.
I started my professional career 26 years ago as a hospital chaplain south of Cologne/Germany.
The Berlin Wall fell, and I got the most exciting job in one of the most exciting times in Berlin’s history, at St Mary’s, the most beautiful church in Berlin. I preached on a pulpit where 99 angels surrounded me and where the statues and icons of the medieval cathedral were soaked in tradition prayer. Yet we were always thinking against the grain and brought the homeless, the poor, the contemporary artists into the church. And we prayed and worked for the reconciliation with the Jews and Poland.
I have been always looking for new challenges and decided to learn new things in America. On September 11, 2001 I received my letter of call from the US in the mail in Berlin. That was no coincidence. The loss and trauma of 9/11 has become one of the defining moments of my ministry at First Lutheran Church in the Bronx. I am also the appointed pastor at St Thomas in Nyack and a doctoral student in Philadelphia.
I live in a little house with a big yard, the hunting paradise for Fritzy, my chocolate Lab. All squirrels, birds, cats, and sometimes even the opossum show enormous respect toward him. I love the Bronx. It is beautiful. I drive East Tremont Avenue and it feels as if I would travel three times around the world. One thing I learned is that I never bring God into the city. He is already there. The city is made of stars, human beings, “all of whom, the physicists tell us, were once stuff of stars. Light.” (Kathleen Norris). For me, that light is Christ, God’s gift of love without condition that welcomes everyone in.
I met Tuvia a few weeks ago at a KT Sullivan mixer. His wife asked me, “Are you the German actor”. “Well not really” I answered, “I am German but not an actor, at least not in a strict sense.” This was the beginning of our cooperation and I am both shocked and thrilled by the book but honored to be to be part of the reading.