On sunday, 13. January, at 2 p.M. Renate topf celebrates her retirement from the christuskirche forchheim with a church service. It’s not easy for her.
FT: after more than eleven years as pastor of the christuskirche in forchheim, she is about to leave the church. What brought her into the service of the church?
Renate topf: when i returned with my family from our year-long stay in australia, i was faced with the decision about my own future course of action. I had not been able to continue my teaching position in australia so easily. After we moved back to forchheim in 1986, i decided to study theology in erlangen. I was 39 at the time.
FT: wasn’t it hard to get started at that age??
Renate topf:first i had to struggle through all three languages, but once that was done, i could tackle the state exam. I am clearly a late starter. There were difficulties with age, especially at the beginning of my career. It just wasn’t that common back then. I think that has changed until today. From september 2001, i worked half-time at the christuskirche in forchheim. It was my good fortune that I was offered this position. I have always been closely connected with the christus church. We already lived in the christuskirche parish area, and during my studies i was also active on the church board
FT: forchheim is a largely catholic terrain. Does that make the work of an evangelical pastor harder??
Renate topf:we live here in the diaspora (laughs)… What we call it. This condition makes my roots clear to myself. In fact, the ecumenical work during my time here was very positive, if sometimes too limited in scope. But unfortunately there was not enough time for more ecumenism on both sides. My catholic colleagues also regret it. In the two parishes of hallerndorf and eggolsheim, i helped to build up ecumenism.
FT: looking back, are there any events or people that you particularly associate with your time in the parish??
Renate topf:unfortunately my colleague mrs. Kronenberg has already passed away. She was one of the first female pastors in the district. Since the beginning she has been my pastor. Working with pastor muschler was always pleasant. I am very happy about the good, collegial and friendly relationship among my colleagues. We have brought a lot forward in the christuskirche. Especially when I think of the exhibitions or the new organ. Diaconal has also improved. For example, the lunch table or the sunday breakfast. There is really good food and the possibility for people to make new contacts.
FT: what would you say was the sticking point in your work??
Renate topf:the diaconal work. As bonhoeffer said, "church is only church when it is there for others." i enjoyed the work very much from the first day on. I’m glad to be working in the community, because community work has a breadth that no other profession has . It is a very intensive time of life. You are taken into the lives of others. The tasks were always new, exciting and enriching.
FT: after this intensive time, are there already plans for afterwards??
Renate topf:first take a break from work. Retreat to leave room for my successor as well. What comes next, we will see. Maybe work in the parish a time or two. I have to learn to let go myself and the congregation has to learn to let go as well. I wish my successor all the best and god’s blessing.
The interview was conducted by magdalena buchwald