Prayers asked for families of 150 dead in German plane crash

“Our country is in mourning,” said Germany’s United Methodist Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, for 150 who died in a plane crash reportedly caused intentionally by a co-pilot of a German A320.

“We are shocked by the news that one of the pilots obviously has chosen to bring all the people in the plane to death,” she said in a statement to United Methodist News Service.

United Methodist Bishop Rosemarie Wenner.

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner

Photo courtesy of the Council of Bishops.

The plane was bound from Barcelona to Duesseldorf on March 24 when it crashed in a remote mountain valley in France. Among the victims are a class of German high school students and teachers in Haltern, Westphalia, returning from an exchange visit to Spain.

French investigators have said the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, intentionally sent the plane into its doomed descent. Information recovered from the cockpit voice recorder revealed he took control of the plane when the captain left briefly to go to the restroom.

“It looks like a human tragedy,” Wenner said. “We are grateful for all the signs of sympathy from all over the world and for all those who assist those who are most affected,” she said.

The Rev. Klaus Ulrich Ruof, director of the United Methodist Germany Office of Communication, said all the pastors in the region were contacted but none reported any church members affected by the plane crash. As far as he knows, no United Methodist pastors are part of the teams involved in recovery or counseling.

Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, shared an email he received from United Evangelical Mission asking for prayer for the churches in Rhineland and Westphalia who are “doing their utmost to assist those who are now mourning.”

“The Rhenish Church has dispatched a team of 15 emergency counselors to Duesseldorf Airport to comfort and support those who are waiting for news of their family members and friends. They are going to stay there as long as they will be needed, which will likely be for many more hours,” said the Rev. Barbara Rudolph of the church board of the Evangelical Church of the Rhineland.

The World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches released a joint statement expressing grief over the news and calling for prayers for victims, their families and the teams working with them in the aftermath of the tragedy.

“As Christians we bring all who are mourning in God's presence, we pray for those who are working hard to rescue the victims and we are grateful for the service of counselors and others,” Wenner said.

Gilbert is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].


Like what you're reading?  United Methodist Communications is celebrating 80 years of ministry! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community.  Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Mission and Ministry
A man receives help from the Miss Stone Center. Despite the many challenges of 2020, the leaders and workers of the Miss Stone Center in Strumica, a diaconal facility of The United Methodist Church in North Macedonia, were able to care for more than 200 people without interruption. Photo by Christina Cekov, Strumica.

North Macedonia ministry provides hope during pandemic

Though COVID-19 changed the lives of many, leaders of a United Methodist diaconal facility in North Macedonia, have been able to provide care without interruption.
Social Concerns
The Rev. Susanne Nießner-Brose (right) listens while a 27-year-old Sudanese woman who asked that she be called Fatima relates her story of fleeing Sudan to seek religious freedom in Europe. She was taking asylum in 2017 at the United Methodist Church of the Redeemer in Bremen, Germany, where Nießner-Brose is pastor, and was later accepted as a refugee. File photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

A less welcoming place for refugees

As the migration crisis continues, Europe “is becoming a fortress” where desperate people are being turned away, says a United Methodist pastor in Germany.
Evangelism
Györgyi Vályi followed the call to lead a small church in Budapest, Hungary, called Hope Church. Her ministry as a mission worker leading the church has come amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Portrait taken in front of the Parliament building by the Danube River. Photo courtesy of Györgyi Valyi.

Church leader finds vocational certainty amid COVID-19

Györgyi Vályi found that even as the Covid-19 pandemic limited church to internet and telephone, Hope Church members grew closer together and that gave her new confidence in her own ministry leading the church.