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German: Door to the Future

When Professor James Danell preaches at a German service, the congregation often consists of a handful of senior citizens. When he preached last Easter at Beautiful Savior-Clarksville TN, however, the congregation numbered about 200, ages 1-81.

Clarksville is near Fort Campbell, a military base that straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Although German services were not part of the original plan, Pastor Matt Brown’s canvassing of the area 12 years ago revealed that some 6,000 Germans lived there. Brown says it was the Lord opening a door.

The congregation’s first German service was December 2001, and since then they’ve held them every Christmas and an occasional Easter. About 60 souls have become members after first coming to a German service, and Brown has ministered to many others. About 200 attend the Christmas service every year.

“It has been amazing to see the Lord work in a way that we never imagined when our congregation started in 2000,” he says. He also admits, though, “My German is nicht so gut.”

Enter Professor Danell, who is not only fluent in German, but who is training other young men to read, write, and speak the language. Many of MLC’s preseminary students minor in confessional languages, Latin and German, the languages of Lutheran theologians from the time of the Reformation. “Who would’ve thought that the German language and gospel outreach would be linked in the year 2012?” Danell says. “I tell my students that German is a door to 500 years of the history and theology of the Confessional Lutheran Church. But in some communities, it’s also a path to outreach.”

Brown adds, “We are thankful that our schools still produce pastors who can preach in German. It seems like these services will continue here for quite a while.”

Read more articles in our Fall 2012 InFocus magazine.