Zeichen der Hoffnung wins the Church Award
The 2019 Princess-Anna-Vasa Church Award was presented to the winner, the Zeichen der Hoffnung association, on August 31, 2019, during the Polish-German ecumenical peace and reconciliation service, organized by the Polish Ecumenical Council and the Evangelical Church in Germany in connection with the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War. The Laudation read by president of the Synode, rev. Adam Malina included the following statement:
"The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland thanks Zeichen der Hoffnung for its commitment to German-Polish reconciliation and for building bridges between our nations and churches”.
“Zeichen der Hoffnung” was established in 1977 on the initiative of evangelical Christians. Its aim was to provide both material and non-material help to the victims - former prisoners of Nazi German concentration camps in Poland. This happened at a time when the wounds of the Second World War seemed impossible to heal, and Germany was not ready to provide official redress for Polish and other Eastern European victims of the Nazi era. Through their actions, the initiators and members of the association wanted to send out a sign of reconciliation and understanding to the victims of Nazism. They wanted to show that everything is possible in Christ and that even distant nations can find ways to each other.
Thanks to the cooperation with the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland and the Polish Ecumenical Council, hundreds of people were taken care of and received regular help and attention in the autumn of their lives. This part of the association’s activity included the successful "Lunch on Wheels" project, which involved bringing hot meals to the homes of the elderly. A more recent project, implemented among others in evangelical parishes in Krakow and Wroclaw, involved young volunteers from Germany and had a significant impact on mutual perception of Poles and Germans as well as overcoming stereotypes. In fact, apart from the initiative of Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste (Action Reconciliation Service for Peace), Zeichen der Hoffnung was the largest post-war international reconciliation effort that reached above the Iron Curtain, which passed the test of time and contributed to the meeting in a united Europe.
President of the association, rev. Hermann Düringer received the award from the hands of Jerzy Samiec, leading bishop of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland.
The Princess-Anna-Vasa Church Award is granted to individuals and organizations from Poland and abroad who have rendered outstanding service to the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession. It is presented every year around the Reformation Day. The purpose of the award is: to honour individuals or organisations who have given testimony to their faith by investing their spare time, skills and resources, and have acted for the benefit of the Evangelical Augsburg Church in Poland, guided by Christian love that knows no boundaries; as well as and to promote and inspire activities aimed at establishing and deepening international cooperation.
The award has the form of a statuette designed by sculptor and painter Lubomir Tomaszewski entitled Razem (Together). It is made by the AS Ćmielów Porcelain Factory.