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Celebrating Ute’s ministry at Wardie

Ute and Kenneth leaving

Rev. Ute Jaeger-Fleming, our minister, left Wardie Parish Church at the end of December. On 15th December, after our Community Carol Concert, we celebrated Ute’s ministry at Wardie. Ute and Kenneth were piped into the church hall, and speeches were given by Paul Mitchell, Joint Session Clerk; Judith Morrison, previous Joint Session Clerk; and Ute herself. Two cakes were baked to mark the occasion. Below are some pictures of this special event.

During the Community Carol Concert, Ute was serenaded by Ev McVie, Maureen Kelly and Susan Dyer, who wrote a version of “Nun Danket” with lyrics for the occasion:

Ute, we want to sing
With love and upraised voices,
Our thanks for everything
for which this church rejoices;
Your smile so wide and kind;
Your welcome to young and old;
For meetings enlivened with wine;
And waffles to counter the cold.

A whirlwind on two wheels
Around the town she goes.
New schemes and clever deals
Keep members on their toes.
Each service, a work of art,
Gave challenges and delight.
And those who took some part
Received emails in the night!

Tough problems have been solved,
Great art and music shared.
You helped us get involved,
And always showed you cared.
We don’t want you to go,
But good things will remain.
You must come back, and so
We sing auf wiedersehen …
We sing auf wiedersehen.

**************************

Below is Ute’s resignation letter, which sets out the reasons for her leaving.

Edinburgh, 17 Nov 2019

Dear Elders,

Letter of resignation

I deeply regret to inform you that I have handed in my resignation as minister of Wardie Parish Church to the Rev. Marjory McPherson, Clerk to Edinburgh presbytery. The resignation will come into effect from 31 December, by which time the Manse will have been vacated. I will take my last service at Wardie on Christmas Day at 10.30am. We will then drive to Germany either on the 26th or 27th of December.

It has been a great privilege and joy to serve as the minister of Wardie Parish Church and as a family we have made our home among you, if only for too short a time. Whenever colleagues asked me how I was getting on at Wardie, I always said that it is paradise. You are such a hard working and committed congregation, together we have moved many things forward, I have no doubt that you will attract a good minister before too long.

The reason for my resignation is solely due to the political changes caused by the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, which has caused uncertainty over the legal status of European citizens.

Despite repeated calls for the UK government to enshrine the rights of European citizens in law, two successive governments have refused to do so. This has been a matter of grave concern for my husband and myself, as we are of different European nationalities. With a new and possibly final date for Britain’s exit from the EU set for 31 January 2020, we have had to decide which of our countries can offer us a secure and equal legal status in future.

The European Union for us is a peace building project, which brings the people of Europe closer together. It takes patience and understanding for people of different nations and cultures to share a vision and work together, it also involves compromise and consensus. Freedom of movement of European citizens plays a vital role in facilitating mutual understanding and in creating greater unity among the nations. We want to continue to play an active part in this endeavour, so that others can benefit from it in the future.

I arrived in Scotland 30 years ago from West-Berlin, where I had previously studied, to take up postgraduate studies. Without the Erasmus programme, I would not have had this opportunity. Shortly after my arrival, the Berlin Wall was brought down. I remember the day vividly as every student and lecturer enquired with excitement of me whether I had heard what just happened. For the past three years, since the referendum, we had hoped that the day would not come when one of us needed to apply to be allowed to stay in the same country as the other. We both considered Scotland to be our shared home, where both of us are regarded as European citizens. I now have become a European migrant in the eyes of successive British governments.

Churches across Europe face many common challenges. Kenneth and I will continue to work as parish ministers, albeit in the German church where I was ordained. We sincerely hope that we can continue to serve Christ together across borders. Our doors will always remain open!

United in Christ,

Ute