A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Some Things about the Give and Take

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
Translated by Brad Schwebler


   The community of the holy means that the members of the Christian community have and know the 55 questions of the Heidelberg Catechism and "on the other hand" that each one use his gifts for the salvation of other members, and should willingly and with joy know to give what they owe.

   In the history of this community so many could tell how they could pull uncertain strings through the give and take between the community and its members, between this community and another community here and abroad. 

   Most valued of all the giving's of the Word: A person sees what is before the eyes, but the Lord sees with the heart. (1 Samuel, 16-7).  Who will rightly not give in to complacency, especially will know to remember his debts and duties.  First the giving and taking should be pulled in by the stretched strings which have the widest reach.

   In March 1934 the community gave the offertory money of 50 Dinars to Rev. Anstein from Basel of the Basel Mission on the occasion of his visit on a Sunday.  These strings reached to Africa or Asia to the missions in the field working with the heathens.  But isn't it a shame that we don't think of the missions more?

   In 1922 the people of America collected gifts for the poor for both local German congregations.  To 27 poor in our community 13.150 Kronen was distributed. 

   In 1842 the Hungarian community collected 42.40 Florints for the "brethren who suffered fire damage in Hamburg."  Certainly the Reformed Germans also contributed to it. - In 1924 our community members also took part in the "German help station" which was set up by Germans here for their brothers, especially for the needy children in the German motherland.  From the community treasury 250 Dinar was given.

   - In 1933 the community received 3929 Dinar from the Gustav Adolf Association of Germany and 200 Dinar from a rich German. - For some years since then the offeratory money on the Sunday after Whitsunday was intended for the Gustav Adolf Association, as was the case in the rest of the Reformed communities.  So far few strings connected this community with the motherland.

   With the brothers in Switzerland the community existed up to now only in the relationship of taking for which Rev. Berger is mainly to be thanked.  From the Swiss Aid Association and from Rev. Berger the community received all together financial aid in the amount of 17,327.50 Dinar.  During the Christmas of 1934 Rev. Berger gave our poor children 694 Dinar.  But shouldn't we also find a way to be the givers to our brothers in Switzerland?

   In 1930 our community collected gifts for our Reformed brothers in France who suffered water damage.  This community only gave one Sunday's offering of 42 Dinar.

   With the state church the community is more firmly connected through giving and taking.  All communities pay a certain contribution to the state church treasury every year which has achieved much for the poor communities and for the service of the brothers in the Diaspora.  In 1935-36 the community contributed 1042 Dinar.  From 1928 to 1933 the community received 19.195 Dinar in financial aid from the state church for construction, in 1935-36 they only received 600 Dinar, and for 1936-37 they were promised 2400 Dinar in financial aid for the pastor's salary.

   With other communities some of the strings of the alliance were attached through taking or giving.  In 1872 the brothers from Sivatz, Crvenka, Werbaß, Torscha and Schowe helped with their gifts to build the first school house.

   The Hungarian parent community placed teachers at our disposal twice during the war, the communities gave one another free use of their church occasionally, and in 1936 the Hungarian community gave us a beautiful song board. - In this community money was collected by Rev. Keck in 1887 for the place of worship in S. Banovci, but in 1929 money was collected by pastor's administrator Raßmann for the church building in Surtschin, and in 1909 the community of Vukovar received 8 Kronen for its church building.  In 1925 the brothers afflicted in Baranya (county in southern Hungary) were presented with 1000 Dinar, and in 1932 they received 100 Dinar.  For some years since then it has been decided, just as in the rest of the poor communities, that they want to use the offertory money for rebuilding or renovating their house of God.

   The community members have often thought of their community with their gifts.  Of the gifts for the purchase of the bells, communion and baptismal implements, harmonium (organ) for the church from the Vincze Fund (the local Evangelical-Lutheran brothers also donated for these things), and for the new construction which was already mentioned.  So much could also be said here of the offertory money, church collections, and taxes which they had given according to their beliefs - are to be named here.  It is still remembered that each building since 1852 was achieved by so many volunteer workers, manual laborers, and directors.  In 1922 Leopold Hauser did volunteer cabinetry work and so many similar thins were done for the community.  In 1936 Johann Schwebler gave 8 benches for the community hall, Jakob Göttel-Sch. gave curtains for the church windows and 2 chairs to the community.  Much is still reported how the community members have accepted their role as servants of the community and have cared for it.

   Council for the Poor.  From time to time the community has supported needy community members.  In 1934-35 they took part in the winter aid work of the Cultural Association.  Since 1935 the Council for the Poor (the Diakonat (deacons)) formed.  Besides the pastor and the church father four men and four woman were appointed: Johann Schepp, David Kern Sr., Martin Göttel, Peter Spangus, the widow of Karl Hauser, , Mrs. Johann Weißmann, to widow of Johann Schmidt, and the widow of Philipp Schwebler.  The community was divided into four districts. 

     Of about 1,700 Dinar were received and of that 29 community members supported it with gifts worth about 1,500 Dinar.  Since December 1925 there has been an offertory box for the poor in the church.

   The orphanage is nevertheless an institution of all of the nation's Reformed churches but is narrowly connected with our community.  Each winter a collection was taken for it and for years the offertory was decided upon by Christmas week and a certain amount was given.  Women of our community have, especially last winter, helped once a week to fill the many stockings in the orphanage.  In the orphanage there were also always German children who attended our church service, Sunday school and religious instruction and therefore to a certain extent belonged to this community.

   In 1888 this orphanage was established by Rev. Sigmund Keck for Sch. Banovci as a residential school  for the poor and orphans from the Diaspora.  He collected for it here in this land as well as in Holland and Switzerland.  In 1905 the institution was moved to Vukovar, where the king's notary Zador Kelecsenyi erected new and considerably larger buildings.

After the war the institution had to be closed, the house was sold, and another one was purchased in Feketitsch.  In 1923 the present day house was acquired and then in 1935 half of the house next door was bought.  Since then it has been under the management of the current bishop Alexander Agoston. The initial census was 14 children which rose to 45, of which 15 were German.


   This community was a "growing" community.  In 85 years they had 6 school rooms, 3 teacher or choirmaster apartments, a parsonage, and a church built.  You yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)

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[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]

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