Music offers glimmers of hope

Music can help us heal: this was the focus of a joint project in a children’s home north of the Arctic Circle. The participants came from Germany, Austria, Great Britain, and Greenland.

From 4 to 10 April 2024, four young musicians from our church in Berlin and Brandenburg in Germany and their musical director Gerrit Junge made their way to the Arctic Circle. Their destination was the small congregation of Uummannaq in Greenland.

It is located on a small island of the same name. The island with its 1,400 inhabitants is situated in a fjord on the 70th parallel, 52 degrees west longitude. This is the northernmost mission of the New Apostolic Church, and it has existed for around thirty years. A handful of members live on Uummannaq. Having become New Apostolic years ago, they are currently visited four times a year by Priests, who look after their spiritual needs.

Two Apostles, Helge Mutschler and David Heynes, joined the young musicians. The Greenland district is looked after by the New Apostolic Church Northern and Eastern Germany. Apostle Heynes from Great Britain, who is responsible for the Nordic countries, has been responsible for the members in Greenland since 2022. For District Apostle Helper Mutschler it was his first trip to Greenland.

Small place, big audience

The reason for this trip was a music workshop with young Greenlanders who live in a children’s home in Uummannaq because they cannot stay with their own families for various reasons. For around forty years, Ann Andreasen, who comes from the Faroe Islands, and her team have been doing extremely important work for these children and young people. There have been longstanding and good relations between the director and the New Apostolic Church. And since music is one of the main focuses of the children’s home, the idea of cooperating in this area seemed to suggest itself.

A whole weekend of intensive rehearsals was planned to culminate in a workshop concert on Sunday afternoon under the motto “Light”. And it was a raving success: about 150 people had accepted the invitation to the auditorium of the Edvard Kruse School in Uummannaq. This means that a good ten per cent of the town’s inhabitants took part in this cultural event, a nice change. The programme was put together and prepared in advance by Gerrit Junge and Sofia Hernandez, a violinist and a music teacher, who works at the children’s home. A particular highlight was the world premiere of the piece “Let there be light” by Austrian composer Julia Breuer, née Maier. She composed it especially for this occasion and dedicated it to the residents of the home in Uummannaq.

Let there be light

In addition, a vocal and string ensemble performed various pieces, with German and Greenlandic musicians accompanying each other. The programme, which lasted around an hour, offered a range of classical, popular, and traditional compositions, which was rewarded with thunderous applause from a delighted audience.

In his short speech at the beginning, District Apostle Helper Mutschler picked up on a thought from the Bible text used in the divine service on Sunday morning. It was taken from Matthew 5: 14: “You are the light of the world.” The Apostle said, “All of us who believe in Jesus Christ, carry this light within us, and we can let it shine in our surroundings by sharing things and not wanting to keep them to ourselves, by not marginalising, but by including others in our circle. And we can let the light of Jesus shine if we are kind and live in peace with one another and forgive one another.” This is how good things can come into being, he said. The young musicians, who come from very different cultural backgrounds, demonstrated this beautifully with their music workshop, he said.

Prayer also works when travelling

In addition to the music workshop and concert, the programme also included three divine services. It takes four stops to get to Uummannaq by air. An overnight stay on Thursday gave the Apostles the opportunity to conduct a divine service in the congregation of Copenhagen, Denmark, in the evening. On Friday morning, the eight travellers boarded the flight to Uummannaq. There was an unexpected layover in Ilulissat.

Due to bad weather, the onward flight was cancelled that day and would take place later. This would have considerably disrupted the group’s already tight schedule. In fact, the entire weekend was at stake. The group prayed intensively.

In the end, the two Apostles and their party were the only ones able to continue the flight to Uummannaq. The other forty or so passengers had to stay in Ilulissat. The workshop took place on Saturday and the divine service on Sunday morning in the village hall. Before the concert that afternoon, the young ensemble visited the village retirement home where two New Apostolic members live, Ane-Marie Johannsen and Karl Jeremiassen. Of course they sang for the residents.

Church service in the hotel

The group had a third divine service on Monday (on the return trip to Europe). Returning from Uummannaq requires regular overnight stays in Ilulissat. The Apostles and other ministers always use these stopovers to conduct a divine service with Evnike Thorleifsen, a sister who lives there. District Apostle Helper Mutschler did so in a hotel room and based the service on Romans 12: 12: “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.” Exhausted but deeply touched and happy, the trip ended on Wednesday morning after another stopover in Copenhagen.

Apostle David Heynes is hoping for a strong impulse to come from this weekend: “We’ve seen how well we can get in touch with the community through music and joint events. In my opinion, this stay showed us that there are still souls in Greenland who are open to Jesus’ offer to follow Him.”

Article info


More from this author