Baseball connection leads to German Christmas in area church

Baseball connection leads to German Christmas in area church

December 22nd, 2012 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment

German intern Lena Loewen, left, with Faith Connection Church outreach coordinator Cindy Larche, has helped with various programs at the church and in the community this fall. Photo by Jimmy Larche

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BASEBALL, ANYONE?

Anyone interested in assisting with a children's Christian baseball camp in Bramsche, Germany, in 2013 should call Jimmy Larche, pastor of Faith Connection Church, at 933-6986 or info@myfaithconnection.com.

If not for baseball, those in attendance at Faith Connection Church in Ooltewah on Sunday wouldn't hear the chorus of a Christmas hymn sung in German.

Come again?

As part of the local nondenominational church's partnership with a church in Bramsche, Germany, which annually hosts a children's Christian baseball camp, Bramsche church member Lena Loewen is in Chattanooga for a sort of internship.

And while she's here, says Cindy Larche, wife of pastor Jimmy Larche, she is helping the church host "A German Christmas in Chattanooga."

During the congregation's 10:30 a.m. Sunday services during December, Loewen, 23, is teaching songs from her native tongue, leading choruses of traditional hymns in German and translating biblical verses in German.

"[Loewen's influence] is a source for helping us understand more," Larche says.

It also is a touch of home for Nicoulé Smith, 38, a member of Faith Connection and a native of Germany.

"It makes me a little more comfortable," she says.

Smith says Loewen will speak a verse of a song in German, translate it to English, then have everyone repeat it.

"Some try to learn it," she says.

Among the songs the congregation has sung partially in German are "Silent Night" ("Stille Nacht"), which was composed in Austria in 1818 but was popular in Germany, and "Oh, Come, Little Children," a German Christmas carol.

Larche says they also have been practicing the phrase "Frohe Weihnachten," which means "Merry Christmas."

Smith, who has been in the United States for 12 years and now works for Volkswagen, says the German influence also has been evident in the 2-year-old church's decorations this month.

"We're not overboard [in Germany] with all the colors," she says. "It's more simple."

One German-flavored decoration, for instance, is a pine branch made into a garland and decorated in burlap and pinecones with the addition of a small emblem of Mary and Joseph praying, Smith says.

"The more nature you can integrate into it, the better," she says.

Although Smith is the congregation's only German native, Larche says the German emphasis also has brought out other connections. One person who attends has German parents, for instance, and one man has a son serving in the military in Germany, she says.

The German church with which Faith Connection is partnered, Evangelic Free (Baptist), has hosted a baseball camp for three years as a ministry and outreach to children. Loewen, according to Larche, has been, more or less, the German translator for the camp directed by English instructors.

"[The camps] are attractional to people in Germany," she says. "It's intriguing for them. They have a lot of fun, and we are able to share Christ with them."

When Jimmy Larche was in Bramsche earlier this year to assist with a baseball camp, the seeds were sewn for Loewen's three-month stay. She'd been to the United States once before when she was a nanny, she says, but she wasn't a Christian then.

"I definitely wanted to [return to] do something mission related," Loewen says. "I wanted to see what God could do."