A converted barn at Friedensau Adventist University, Germany, provided a warm and friendly venue for 22 participants from across Europe who attended the 2018 Family Ministries Leadership Training (FMLT). They met from February 16-21, 2018, to enhance their knowledge and skills for supporting and enriching family relationships.
The event was a collaboration between the Trans-European Division (TED) Family Ministries department, led by Karen Holford, and her counterparts in the Inter-European Division (EUD), led by Rainer Wanitschek and his wife Elvira. Unfortunately, Holford was unable to attend due to a health issue but did join the group through Skype at the opening and closing sessions of the event.
The converted barn nestles within the beautiful and spacious university campus. Participants attended seminars and workshops focusing on issues such as the Theology of Marriage, Surviving an Imperfect Family, A Biblical Model of Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Communication, and Conflict Resolution.
With thought-provoking devotionals and lots of practical activities laid out around the edge of the meeting room for break time inspection, the days were full and energized.
One highlight was a trip to Wittenberg. Here participants experienced a mini-Reformation tour led by a member of the local Adventist church. It ended with a visit to the magnificent ‘Luther 1517,’ a 360o panorama depicting life during the time of the Reformation.
FMLT is a three-year course which meets for 5-6 days each year. It is the final year for ten participants from the Trans-European Division, among them Anthony Opoku-Mensah, a pastor in the South England Conference. For Opoku-Mensah, “it was a fabulous, fantastic and challenging training. It has been great sharing experiences, resources and ideas.”
Another final year pastor, Obinnaya, from the north of England added, “What an amazing wealth of experience we shared in a barn! I think I speak for everyone when I say that the exchange of ideas between the TED and EUD was very enriching.”
Jana and Ansis, a married couple from Latvia and also final year participants, expressed how happy they were to have made such an abundance of friends from around Europe. “It’s great that we are all on the same wavelength. We learned so many practical ideas,” they said.
Mikus, also from Latvia, appreciated his discovery of numerous ready-to-use practical tools preparing him to run his own seminars.
Marta comes from Hungary and helped to translate the sessions for the rest of the Hungarian group. She agreed that it was a brilliant idea for the TED and EUD to work together to deliver the FMLT this year, sharing ideas from different countries and making friends. “I really enjoyed the practical activities – they were fun,” she said.
Matuesz Krzesinski is the Family Ministries director for his conference in Poland. Accompanied by his wife Karolina, it was his first year on the course. Both were inspired by the different presentations. “We now have plenty of ideas for seminars we can use in church,” he said. “It was resourceful, and a lot of fun with a great company of people.”
Maria Cordeiro, Family Ministries director in Portugal, reflected on how it was helpful to have practical ideas about counseling couples and the importance of body language. “I strongly recommend this course to others,” she said.
Marius from Romania said that he not only learned many new things, but that it was also a good experience for his heart and soul. “What I found most useful was the opportunity to meet with the presenters and have one-on-one discussions with them in between the meetings,” he said.