The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

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Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Tiit Henno: "All my things are in heaven."

I went to former Soviet Bloc nation of Estonia in the fall of 1999 with Bob Ergenbright of Broadway United Methodist Church. It was an eye-opening trip that left a mark on me in many ways. It also began a friendship with Veljo Puuljalg, with whom I still correspond via e-mail.

I also met the Rev. Tiit Henno and recently Veljo began sending me e-mails, noting that Tiit's health had taken a turn for the worse. Upon returning from my annual Fourth of July jaunt to West Tennessee, I learned from Veljo that the Methodist pastor had 'left this World,' as my brother Veljo said.

Recently, a pastor friend of mine shared a quote from the Jesuit scientist named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who said, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience."

Tiit Henno's spirit has left this human experience.

With that in mind, I take this space to share part of Tiit's Human experience, which he shared with me in 1999 and I, in turn, shared with readers of The Daily Times:

(Beging interview text)

Tiit Henno is a slight man of 46 years with dark hair and a compassionate face, a face that often reveals the struggles of one who pastors an aging congregation once hindered by decades of Soviet oppression. Now, it’s the choices offered by independence – what one could call “the World” – that hinders the church and likely bewilders its shepherd.

Tiit knows the price his predecessors paid for living out their faith at this simple clapboard building known as Kuressaare Methodist Church.

On an autumn night following a worship service, Tiit rises from a dinner table in a narrow room just off from the sanctuary. The table is surrounded by visiting American Christians who have come to serve as a mission team, concentrating on audiological, optometric and substance abuse prevention. Sometimes in broken English, sometimes with the help of an interpreter, but often with teary eyes, Tiit humbly tells the story of Martin Prikask, a former businessman who founded this church – the first Methodist church in Estonia – and served as the first superintendent of the Estonian Methodist conference.

“In 1941 … the communists deported this man to Siberia and he was shot in ’42,” Tiit says. “And he was buried symbolically in this cemetery, of this town, but he’s actually there in Siberia.”

One of the team members notes, “His body is there but his spirit is here.”

“Yes,” Tiit says in agreement. “We come to say that he was a martyr. But very much the members of this congregation escaped to West, and was deported to Siberia and to Germany. But all the time the services was held. During the worst, also. And after there was three congregations. For about 50 years was three congregations here: Methodists, Baptists and (Seventh Day) Adventists. There was very much activity. But, as you know, the Baptist church has now own beautiful new church, Zion Church, but the Adventists are also now here.

“And this was the living room of this man,” Tiit says, sweeping his arm around the room now holding the dinner table. “This was his sleeping room,” he says, pointing to an adjoining room now used as a cooking area.

“And he was such man who very much prayed,” Tiit says. “Before services he was in church and he knelt on the top of each bench and prayed for these people who will sit in this bench.

“Yes, he has written also books, very good books, and the people love them. Ja, I have such a feeling that I will continue now this work that he began. This was first Methodist congregation in Estonia. The Methodists came to Estonia from St. Petersburg (Russia) and from Kuressarre, Saaremaa, this movement came to the mainland also, and to Tallinn also.

“I believe that will come such time that our church will again be full of people. Now, we have only 65 members,” he says somewhat disappointedly.

At this point, Taimi Krull, an interpreter from the Zion Church, says something to Tiit in Estonian. He sighs and smiles, and she addresses the group.

“Ten years ago when our new times began, youths gathered in this church from Kuressaare. This church was full of young people, every Monday evening, very full. And this was fantastic revival here, and from this began also a Pentecostal church at Kuressaare. … Most of the young people go to the Pentecostal church.”

“Ten or 11 years ago, this began when a new movement for liberty began in Estonia, and also began revival times in churches.”

The Kuressaare Methodist Church was built in 1912 and has not been reconstructed – even the English shake roof remains the same.

Tiit was sent to the church for a two-week revival in 1976, but it turned out to be a long-term assignment. While the team was in Kuressaare, Tiit celebrated his 23rd year at the church.
When he moved there, Tiit recalls, “All I had was a little map and a little bag with my clothes.”

Now, he says, he has much more.

“Everything I have belongs to Jesus,” Tiit says. “All my things are in heaven.”

(end interview text)

"Everything I have belongs to Jesus. All my things are in heaven."

Sometimg during the night of Thursday, June 29, 2006, Tiit joined his "things," as well as his Lord.

Grace and peace ...