Ingrid und Manfred Kern
* 1934 IN AACHEN, * 1931 IN BERLIN
“THE STASI ACCOMPANIED US LIKE THE WEATHER.”
As a young man in Berlin after World War II, Manfred Kern becomes a stalwart Christian. He wants to become a pastor, but does not want to study at a university dominated by the SED (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany). He goes to Hamburg instead, where he meets Ingrid, his great love and future wife. The couple moves to the GDR in 1957 because there is a shortage of pastors there. Ingrid’s parents are devastated by this choice, and her friends can’t understand her at all.
For us it was an adventure with God.
In Fürstenwalde, the couple’s decision is put to the test. They do not have their own apartment and have to move frequently. In 1958 Manfred Kern takes over the Baptist congregation in Templin. The parishioners are very pleased to have a new pastor. Manfred and his wife are welcomed with great appreciation for their decision to move to the East.
Manfred Kern’s issues with the Ministry of State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, or MfS, also known as Stasi) begin in Templin. He assumes leadership of the Evangelical Alliance in 1979, when he is a pastor in Berlin-Lichtenberg. The Stasi intensify their surveillance of Kern after he takes over the organisation of the annual Blankenburg Conference. Up to 5,000 Christians from the GDR and other countries gather to study the Bible, pray together, discuss current topics, sing and make music.
Despite the challenges they experienced, Manfred and Ingrid Kern believe that their time in the GDR was worth it.