Last updated on December 18th, 2020
We finally welcome Pastor Hille and his wife back to our congregation at Christmas and until our new pastor arrives in the summer 2021. – Iris Schweiger, President of Church Council
A voice from quarantine, December 16, 2020
Dear members and friends of the Martin Luther Church!
I have been in quarantine with my wife for a week. This is really very special preparation for my ministry in the church, which I will start “on site” on December 22. But from my quarantine home I’ve already taken part in many online meetings of the various teams and groups of the congregation. What a joy it is to see, with what motivation, with what commitment, with what enthusiasm and serious effort people are at work! The church is alive! It pulsates. It raises its voice and shows signs of missional presence. A lot is achieved, some things brilliantly and confidently, but some also laboriously and sometimes with frustrating success. I’m looking forward to being able to “sneak into” this chemistry of church work soon, so to speak. In preparation for this, it struck me and became important that we have to show a lot of patience with each other and especially a lot of mutual appreciation in this confusing and nervous time. Praying for one another also means respecting one another. We are experiencing how gifts and talents are distributed differently during this time. But we also learn that we need every little bit of it. This is the huge treasure trove of volunteer work for which we are infinitely grateful. We have to try a lot, we have to openly and critically examine the results of the work, perhaps discard some things and then look for new beginnings. So, for example, we will pre-record worship services in our church, beginning with those for Christmas, and let everyone know when and how they can be viewed. It is important and worthwhile to learn a lot at this point, because it should apply not only in words, but also in truth: The center of our church life is the celebration of worship services. Here we meet to hear what we cannot say to ourselves. Here we allow ourselves to be served by God and we respond to him with our service to him. This is the depth and breadth in which we stand together and are anchored. That is the meaning of what we do. So onwards! Let’s do this!
Greetings from quarantine!
Pastor Gerhard Hille
Pastor Gerhard Hille reintroduces himself to our congregation
Greetings dear members and friends of Martin Luther Church Toronto!
I counted the years that I’ve been involved with Martin Luther Church. It’s been more than 18 years. I gave my first sermon at the 2002 New Year’s service. I was visiting Pastor Stefan Wolf. I arrived the day after Christmas. As we were planning my time in Toronto and the surrounding area, it turned out that it was getting a little tight for Pastor Wolf, because he still had two services to prepare for the New Year. Spontaneously I said: “It’s really easy. You do one, I take over the other for you.” No sooner said than done. We both sat in his study preparing the sermon for the turn of the year, and we had gained time for each other.
That was the beginning.
In the meantime I have “gained a lot of time” to help in the MLC with church services and funerals, visits to sick people and the elderly at home, in hospitals and seniors homes. It was a very meaningful time for me. The contact with people in a Christian congregation has always been the most important focus of my pastoral work for me, and has been for 45 years now. I would like to continue this as an interim pastor.
I look forward to shared worship service experiences, to meeting you on different occasions. I am happy to be available for conversations, be it in church, at home, in the hospital or in the nursing home and even if COVID-19 forces us to do all of this on the phone.
So I’m looking forward to this time with you, not just on Lakeshore Boulevard, but wherever we may meet!
Interviewed by Andy Boettcher by e-mail on December 15, 2020.
1. How long have you been involved with the Martin Luther Church? How did your first contact with the MLC come about?
I was at the Martin Luther Church for the first time in 2002 just before New Years 2003. I was invited by Pastor Stefan Wolf and my own daughter, Anna Lisa, who was staying for half a year with the Wienecke family at the time. I have known Pastor Wolf for a very long time. He spent his childhood not far from my parental home. Moreover, he also was a vicar in Bad Meinberg, where I was the parish pastor. In fact, it was he who, so to speak, opened the doors of this congregation to me.
2. What do you like most about MLC?
I appreciate the openness with which so many members of the congregation welcome people, especially strangers. I experienced this firsthand, especially when I subsequently took on the duties of substitute pastor to the congregation.
3. What originally inspired you to become a pastor; how long did it take for you to make up your mind?
Originally, I wanted to be a teacher. But, during my schooldays I was very close with the pastor of my home parish, who had also confirmed me. I felt he was doing a very good job. Gradually, a desire to also do such work grew in me. Hence, I ended up studying theology.
4. What was the greatest challenge (i.e. what caused you the most difficulty) during your theological training? What gave you strength or courage during times of difficulty?
During my studies, I was very much challenged and influenced by my theology teachers who were very biblically & theologically sound. To this day, that means a lot to me. Thus it is always a great challenge and a real effort to interpret the biblical message for our time and, conversely, to understand the questions of our time in the context of the biblical message. Discussing and sometimes debating with my fellow Christians helped me immensely.
5. 10 years ago, could you have imagined becoming an interim pastor at MLC now?
10 years ago? Certainly! I had already subbed for Pastor Mielke during a longish vacation of his. For me, being here in this capacity means not only the joy of pastoral service to the MLC congregation, but, being close to the Canadian side of my family. Thus, my wife and I are very much looking forward to this time until the end of July 2021.
6. What was the hardest thing for you during your very first sermon?
I can still feel the burden of responsibility that I felt when I gave my first sermon as a student in a hamlet near Bielefeld. I no longer feel this as such a burden, but, I remain very aware of a pastor’s responsibility to this day.
7. What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
Actually, I have two:
Ps. 43:3: “O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me”
This is my confirmation motto, which my grandfather chose for me. I believe that this prayer has been fulfilled many times in my life.
Joshua 1:9: “I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
With this saying I was introduced to my first parish in a small village near Bad Salzuflen. I believe that this Bible verse addresses the most important things a parish pastor needs to embrace in his ministry. And that is what I’ve experienced throughout my 40 years of congregational service.
8. What is your greatest wish for the Martin Luther Church in this 65th year since its founding?
I wish for all of us that we can get through these difficult times in good health and wellbeing, and that together we may discover and learn that our sometimes seemingly hidden God always has his guiding and protective hands over us.
Pastor Gerhard Hille at Installation Service of Pastor Christian Ceconi on Sep 22, 2013 (also pictured: Pastor Sebastian Meadows-Helmer, Rev. Doug Reble, Rev. Paul Shepherd, Pastor Katharina Moeller)