End of shift for a true companion

At first he seems aloof and almost a little gruff. But his heart is huge, and even bigger than he is. This weekend will see the retirement of a remarkable man, and not just from a physical point of view: District Apostle Rainer Storck.

Subdeacon in 1984, rector in 1991, Apostle in 2009, District Apostle for Western Germany in 2014. What can such a list really say about a minister? He has been married since 1982, is the father of four children, and was the owner and head of a civil engineering company until 2013. That says a little more about the person of Rainer Storck.

But if you want to get to know him—by the way, he was born in 1958—you have to actually be there in situations that show him for what he is.

Caring with his whole soul

“What’s the matter with you!?” This may seem a little direct when it comes from the District Apostle after a divine service when saying goodbye. Um, I hadn’t said anything and didn’t think I looked sad either. But Rainer Storck can still see when one of the members entrusted to his care is not doing well. They feel seen. They feel understood.

This doesn’t just apply to individual pastoral care, for which he would have liked to have much more time. This is also what shapes the opening of his divine services. While the choir is still singing, he is not absorbed in his own thoughts but trying to get a feel for what is moving the congregation. And then he picks the listeners up where they are, with their feelings and sentiments. They know that he knows them, knows what is going on.

Kneeling together

“Would you like to pray?” The young man has cancer. Rainer Storck organises a meeting with him whenever he is in the area. “Would you like to kneel?” “That is the only way we can do it,” responds the young man who is ravaged by the disease. The District Apostle accompanied him to the end and conducted the funeral service.

No distance is too far for this minister. An Apostle from his area spent his retirement years in the southern part of the country and was now dying. Rainer Storck drove four hours to say goodbye to him. He was already no longer conscious. And then he drove home four hours.

A man who speaks his mind

“Now come to the point.” Sometimes it is not just Rainer Storck’s eyes that say that. Blathering in meetings? He absolutely cannot stand it. He is not much of a talker himself. But when he does talk, then he has something to say. Something that makes sense and has substance. This is how he came to the attention of his predecessor in ministry in the first place.

Then there is this. Patience is not one of Rainer Storck’s strong suits. He has no patience for delays. He loathes them. Sometimes he circumnavigates delays and congestions on the motorway. The outcome of his attempts is covered by a cloak of polite silence..

The Chief Apostle made proud

“Hand in hand, each in his role. I am proud of my Church and I am proud of my brothers.” With these words, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider, who does not readily throw praise around on the fly, lauded the cooperation of District Apostles Bernd Koberstein and Rainer Storck during the merger to form the new working area of Western Germany.

This merger left the Westphalian with a huge working area. His district includes 44 countries. And he set himself the goal of visiting every country every year. No wonder he would rather go on holiday by car than by plane when he retires. Or by bike. His trekking bike, assembled by specialists, will be delivered in the next few days.

Rainer Storck is a real friend and mate. And in the Ruhr mining region that does not just mean a buddy for fun and games, but a companion on the road, in battle, and in suffering, whom you can trust unconditionally. Many will miss this.

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