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Berlin Fellowship



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Berlin Fellowship, 1950-1994 | David Allan Hubbard Library Archives

By Ralph Hamburger, Nancy Sanders Gower

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Collection Overview

Title: Berlin Fellowship, 1950-1994Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1950-1967

Primary Creator: Eccardt, Baerbel

Other Creators: Hamburger, Ralph, James, Walter E.

Extent: 4.0 Linear Feet

Arrangement: Link to Finding Aid

Date Acquired: 00/00/2000

Subjects: Berlin (Germany) -- Religion -- 20th century., Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Religion., Hollywood Presbyterian Church (Hollywood, Calif.), James, Walter E., Mears, Henrietta C. (Henrietta Cornelia)

Languages: English, German


The collection documents the history of a Christian work-camp program called World Deputation which gave birth to the Berlin Fellowship, spanning the years 1950 through 1996. It consists of the correspondence, minutes, team reports and other documents involved in the ministry, in all, 5 boxes and 3 binders compiled by Ralph Hamburger, a key leader in the creation and continuation of the Fellowship. Included are copies of the book Tumbling Walls, the story of the Berlin Fellowship, and correspondence between its author, Walter James, and Berlin pastor Alfred Schroeder. Also part of the collection are an autobiographical sketch of Ralph Hamburger, "Eternally Grateful," and his correspondence with J.B. Phillips.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Link to full Finding Aid

The collection documents the roots, beginnings, forty year life of the relationship between Southern California Presbyterians and Protestant-Evangelical congregations in Berlin and East Germany during the post-war years and especially the years of the cold war. What began as a youth work-camp program at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, called “World Deputation,” a vision on the part of young people at that church to reach out to war devastated areas of the world and help, grew out also into lasting relationships between church communities in East and West, linking arms across the iron curtain, the Berlin Fellowship. The collection includes two binders compiled by Ralph Hamburger documenting the history of the Hollywood Presbyterian Church Deputation teams and the Berlin Fellowship; Walter James' book  Tumbling Walls, the story of the Fellowship’s impact on Christians behind the iron curtain, in both English and German; documents, correspondence, minutes of meetings, evaluations, testimonies and team reports covering the period 1950 through 1996; and the correspondence of Ralph Hamburger, the college student whose experience, insight and commitment were so influential to the birth of the Deputation teams and the Berlin Fellowship. It also includes his testimony, “Eternally Grateful,” the chronicle of his early life in the Netherlands, where he participated in the underground during WWII, his years in California at Hollywood Presbyterian Church where he was a prime mover in the development of the teams and the Berlin Fellowship, and his years of service in Eastern Europe under the auspices of World Vision. Of special note is his correspondence, as secretary of the Deputation program, with J.B. Phillips who offered the early teams talks on Europe and New Testament interpretation during their stopovers in England en route to the continental work camps. The correspondence reveals a growing personal friendship between Hamburger and Phillips.

Subject/Index Terms

Berlin (Germany) -- Religion -- 20th century.
Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Religion.
Hollywood Presbyterian Church (Hollywood, Calif.)
James, Walter E.
Mears, Henrietta C. (Henrietta Cornelia)

Administrative Information

Repository: David Allan Hubbard Library Archives

Access Restrictions: Supervised use only

Physical Access Note: For full Finding Aid contact the archives

Acquisition Source: Ralph Hamburger and Ms. Baerbel Eccardt

Acquisition Method: Gift

Box and Folder Listing

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Series I: History of the World Deputation teams and the Berlin Fellowship

Subseries 1: World Deputation – This binder compiled by Ralph Hamburger documents the history of the World Deputation teams which grew out of a prayer group of 4 members of the College Department of Hollywood Presbyterian Church. These students were inspired by anecumenical vision to help war-torn Europe and other areas of the world in a practical way. The binder is full of the correspondence involved in translating their hopes into the sending out of the first team in 1950 and all subsequent teams through 1958: letters to leaders of the church and its college department leadership; correspondence with the Board of Foreign Missions and with the WCC youth division; correspondence with Paul Evdokimov of CIMADE, and other organizations in Europe; correspondence with J.B. Phillips, fundraising letters, advice, blessings, reports on their work and letters inviting the teams to speak to various groups about their experiences. There are also many photos of the teams at work, orders of worship and clippings related to the Deputation teams in Europe, the Korea and Japan teams and the Alaska teams.

Subseries 2: Berlin Fellowship: Antecedents (1949-1958) and Beginnings (1959-1967).

This is a binder compiled by Ralph Hamburger tracing the relationships between Southern California Presbyterians and the Protestant-Evangelical Church in Berlin which resulted in the Berlin Fellowship, up to 1967. Included are documents related to the writing of Tumbling Walls and an Addendum containing documents related to the “Hallelujah-Amen-Celebration” held in 1996 to celebrate the conclusion of the visitation ministry to East-Germany by Berlin Fellowship teams.

Subseries 3: Tumbling Walls, 3 copies in English, 2 copies in German (Box 1).

Subseries 4: Eternally Grateful: Memoirs of a Christian Pilgrim, the autobiographical sketch of Ralph Hamburger in binder form.

Subseries 5: Four DDR (East-Germany) travel diaries kept by Ralph Hamburger dated 1961, 1967 & 1968, 1970 and 1974 partly written in “safety Dutch.” (Box 4)

Series II: Alfred Schroeder/Walter James Correspondence (Box 1)

Arranged chronologically, this is primarily the correspondence between Walter E. James, leader of the World Deputation teams at Hollywood Presbyterian Church (and author of Tumbling Walls), and Alfred Schroeder, youth director of the Protestant-Evangelical Church in Berlin who also invited deputation teams from Hollywood Presbyterian Church. “We would be glad if some of the Hollywoods will come to Berlin,” he wrote to James in April, 1953. This first correspondence was answered by Ralph Hamburger but by 1956 James and Schroeder had become friends and continued to correspond until the death of Alfred Schroeder in 1991. Topics range from deputation team plans to encouragement in the ministry to more personal subjects. Also included are other correspondence related to the Berlin Fellowship and to pastor Schroeder’s visits to California. The last letter in the collection is dated October 1996, from Mrs. Erika Schroeder to Ralph Hamburger, and is in German, as are several other letters in the collection, sometimes accompanied by a translation by Hamburger.

Series III: Minutes, Reports, Information, Evaluations, Financial documents, Testimonies (Boxes 2, 3)

Subseries 1: Bulletins and Letters to team members written by Ralph Hamburger, arranged chronologically, 1950-1956.

Subseries 2: Team reports and evaluations, arranged chronologically, 1950-1959 and 1967-1974.

Subseries 3: Expressions and testimonies from World Deputation work-campers, 1951 and 1952.

Subseries 4: Letters from pastor Schroeder in West Berlin about the situation of the Church in the east, 1958, 1963, 1964 & 1967.

Subseries 5: Some minutes of the Berlin Fellowship meetings during the years 1960-1996.

Subseries 6: Members lists of the Berlin Fellowship.

Subseries 7: World Deputation training and discipline requirements.

Subseries 8: Financial notes – pledges, expenses, reports 1950-1956.

Subseries 9: Miscellaneous: Hotel and travel vouchers for East-Germany, 1966;  Dr. Munger’s recommendation of Ralph Hamburger to take leadership of the Berlin Fellowship and to visit West Germany and the D.D.R. (East-Germany); and photos.

Series IV. Ralph Hamburger Correspondence (Box 4)

Subseries 1: The chronologically organized  correspondence of Walter James or Ralph Hamburger, from 1950 through 1974, with the many individuals and institutions involved in organizing World Deputation teams, among them: Youth Argosy, Dr. Louis Evans, the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, the Foreign Missions office of the Presbyterian Church in New York, Dr. Henrietta Mears, the Deputation team at Camp Agape in Italy, the Reverend Pierre Basset in Paris, supporters of the Deputation teams at Hollywood Presbyterian Church, and the secretary of WCC Work Camps.

Subseries 2: The chronologically organized correspondence between Ralph Hamburger and J.B. Phillips and/or his wife Vera.

Subseries 3: A 1994 Birthday letter of thanks to Ralph Hamburger from a member of one of the East Berlin churches the Berlin Fellowship reached, remembering their difficult but rich experience together.

Subseries 4: Correspondence with Fuller Theological Seminary concerning the Hamburger/Berlin Fellowship collection to be put into the care of its Archives.

Series V. Audio tapes (Box 5)

Thanksgiving Service for the Life & Ministry of J.B. Phillips, Sept. 30, 1982. Alfred Schroeder: Last words 1991 (his last tape). Dr. Robert B. Munger’s message on the life of the Church in East Germany given at Glendale Presbyterian Church, Sept. 1, 1974. Berlin Fellowship Meeting in California May 11, 1968: Reports by Bishop Kurt Scharf and Pastor Alfred Schroeder; discussions. J.B. Phillips: “There is nothing hid” message given at First Presbyterian Church, Hollywood, 1954.

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