Living treasures - community educator in Wernigerode

Who is committed to congregational pedagogy? We visited Mrs Klages in Wernigerode.

The treasures of the church district are above all the employees who work full-time and on a voluntary basis. In order to introduce them, we have conducted interviews with them. Here Mrs Klages introduces herself. She is a church pedagogue in the JBZ Wernigerode.


Please describe your office and your tasks in the service of the church. Why did you decide to do this?

My "office" consists mainly of the leadership and management of the Ev. Jugendbegegnungszentrum (short JBZ) of the New Evangelical Church Community Wernigerode. Here I am, so to speak, the interface between the secular and the church life. Because also "church-distant" young people are naturally cordially welcome in our youth center. Conversations about "God and the world" literally arise all by themselves. In this context I am responsible for the planning, organisation, implementation and follow-up of leisure, education, prevention and youth culture offers and their conceptual development and profiling. In addition, I am also part of the congregational teen and youth work.

I decided for these tasks and exactly this position because I was looking for an occupation where I can take responsibility and go beyond my limits. (The fact that this applies to both personal and geographical circumstances is coincidental, by the way! Because to get to work, I have to cross the state border between Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt 😉 Furthermore, I grew up in church youth work (so I wanted to turn my hobby into a profession), wrote my Bachelor's thesis about it and feel that I am in a position to represent the younger generations well and also to stand by them. And that's where I am now. Ready for whatever may come!


Please give us an insight into a typical working day. What is it that you actually do?

The nice thing about this job is that there is no such thing as a "typical working day" at the JBZ. But every day consists of new, very different experiences, learning processes and challenges.

I like to call myself the "eierlegende Wollmilchsau", because in such a youth centre there is also a lot to do apart from the pedagogical work. For example, there are days when I am very busy with grounds maintenance and gardening, or with redesigning the interior and keeping the house clean. On other days, I sit in front of the PC a lot and take care of the bureaucratic processes. And somewhere in between there is still enough time to plan educational activities and to have a chat or two with visitors. Due to the situation last year, I was not able to offer many activities, but I have a lot up my sleeve for when things really get going again! In addition to the Open Door, there are also various group offers, which will start again after the summer holidays. For example, our Teeny group, our AG offer at the Gerhard-Hauptmann-Gymnasium on the topic of "Sustainability" and of course our Konfi-lessons.

What is also part of every day is networking and public relations. The latter includes, above all, the maintenance of our Instagram account, which I use to inform people about what is going on at the JBZ and to let them participate, but also to ask for opinions. This medium was especially helpful during the lockdown in order to not completely lose contact with the target group.

Maybe you can already tell from this short presentation that it really never gets boring here. If not: It really never gets boring!

Otherwise, representative of my work, I would like to briefly attach the preface to our conception:

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of discretion." - 2.Timothy 1:7

Especially when there are (new) challenges or unknown situations ahead, it is good to hear words that say: "Do not be afraid!". For God gives people the strength they need for what needs to be faced. He has given love, which connects you with your fellow human beings and with Him, which carries you and gives you support when your own strength is just not enough. And he has given prudence to weigh things and to find the right measure.

These gifts should also come to bear in the Protestant Youth Meeting Centre (JBZ) and form the basic framework of the pedagogical work, in order to accompany young people without fear on their way through life with all its hurdles, to support them and to let them participate.


Does your Christianity express itself in your private everyday life?

It is probably only through my everyday life that I really came to be a Christian. It all started with a phone call from Martin Luther. Wait... Martin Luther? I can understand your amazement, that's how I reacted when my little brother put the phone in my hand 8 years ago. On the other end of the line was the pastor himself. After he had been passed around a few times in amazement and had been allowed to speak to each member of the family once or twice, he asked me if I would not be interested and have the time to go to the KFS in South Tyrol as a teamer. And with my acceptance, the story with me and the church took its course. It is a beautiful story with many happy moments on the campground in the Harz mountains in Wildemann, in the local church at the children's Bible week, at seminars and further training of the Protestant Youth and finally also in the church council, in the local provost's and regional synod.


Do you have a favorite place and anecdote in the church district?

Phew, that's a tough one as I've only known the church district since October 2020. I was impressed by Wernigerode as well as by the monastery DrĂŒbeck. But I also like Quedlinburg extremely well! So there is still a lot for me to discover and maybe I will manage to decide on a favorite place someday. But I particularly like the fact that I get to work where others go on holiday. Because if you come from Salzgitter, as I do, even a working day in a place in the church district is like a holiday!


Would you like to tell us something special about your ministry?

I would like other young people to experience what I have experienced. How church with its Christian basic values can also be. That church doesn't hurt and that it's not just the 9 a.m. service and, excuse me, "boring readings" from the Bible that make up church. But also, and above all, community, charity and, very important for young people, participation!

Through my ministry I have a different opportunity than in my voluntary work to get in touch with the young and young at heart to find out what they want from the church, what they think of it and what they have experienced so far. I would like to use these expectations, dreams and experiences to push forward the indispensable developments that are needed in order to also be able to inspire young people for the church and to achieve that they, like me, "stick". That they too get their "Martin Luther moment".

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