Granats to Re-open Güben



GUBEN–A/Captain Patrick Granat speaks with Envoy Tenn Plantinga before the open air meeting; the congregation swelled to 600 by its start.

Western officers A/Captains Patrick and Kitty Granat are in Güben, Germany, with the plan of opening Salvation Army work by the end of this year. Recently, Güben celebrated its first open-air meeting since 1945, when the city was divided between Germany and Poland.

With a complete change of government after the fall of the Berlin Wall, The Salvation Army made claim on the formerly owned corps properties in East Germany. Güben is near Dresden, where the Army had managed to hold meetings even during World War II. After the fire-bombing in February 1945, they put aside their evangelical outreach program in order to provide humanitarian service.

With the Communist government came an edict of no open air meetings, uniforms or flags, ranks, hall, War Cry, or existence. In some locations, the Army was offered the opportunity to merge with the Methodists, and thus to survive as a fellowship until it could assume its separate identity.

In the early 1990s, Dresden was one of several cities permitted to reopen Army operations. After building up a corps of about 50 soldiers and adherents, Corps Officer Lt. Jens Kind invited the Central Divisional Youth Band from Holland to visit the city and conduct a series of concerts, meetings and open-air services. A/Captain Patrick Granat, who had been assigned to study local Salvation Army procedures in preparation for the opening in Güben, was invited to speak. The Dutch Youth Band held an earlier concert in the park as an attention-getter.

For almost 90 minutes the overflow audience sang, prayed and listened to the band, to Lt. Sarah Kind and her puppet Kazimir bring a lesson, and to Granat preach about moving from nominal belief to active involvement with the Kingdom of God on earth.

After the service, local pastors wanted to know how a small congregation could draw such a large crowd. The public image of the Army went up, as well as respect among the clergy. The greatest news of the day was that a man in the meeting gave his heart to Christ at the end of the service.

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