Diakonische Basisgemeinschaft in Hamburg
Arbeit für Frieden und Gerechtigkeit
Gastfreundschaft für Flüchtlinge
Leben in Gemeinschaft
We started in 1993 as a group of people living all over Germany but coming together to think about starting an intentional christian community in Germany. Important influences have been different US-American communities of the Catholic Worker movement and Taizé. In 1996 we started to live together in Hamburg.
Nowadays we are five people from Germany with five children and some volunteers from Germany and USA. We live in a former church community center that we pay rent for to the Protestant Church. In our house with about 19 rooms we give hospitality to homeless refugees.
The community members share time, cash and work due to our commitment that is renewed annually. Our christian faith is our basis. We commit ourselves to common life, work and prayer. Volunteers are completing our household, living with us for a year or two. In addition people are visiting for some days or weeks. Each day is started with a short prayer in our little chapel in the basement of our house.
We share income and try to live a simple lifestyle. Dorothy Day has told us: "Live simply so that others may simply live." The whole household is very much living on donations, e.g. food, furniture, clothing or money. Some of the community members have income-jobs which in the beginning of our history must not be more than a part time job. E.g. Dietrich is working as a mediator, Frauke is a minister at our regional church. Of this money we pay for e.g. rent and health insurance and public transport and pocket money. The different work times sometimes cause a different daily rhythm. Also we have different status: employed, student job, or self-employed. That in the past caused some troubles.
Decision making is done through consensus. Tuesday mornings we have a weekly meeting where we talk about projects and work in the house, give a structure to the coming week, answer letters and emails we received and so on. In addition we meet about once a month for a whole day to talk about the bigger issues like: How do we organize the vigils? Do we want to talk about our guests in public for fundraising reasons? Do we plan to get a pension in 30 year and who is going to pay for it? Are we happy? For the even bigger issues we share a community weekend twice a year.
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware". Hebr 13,2
We share our house with people who lost their home or shelter for any reason. We started out with inviting any homeless person but are now limiting our offer to refugees and migrants. Usually there are about 8 guests living with us. In the past we had people from all over the world, mainly from West-Africa and the Near East Region living with us. Sometimes just overnight, sometimes they stay for years.
There is for example Muhamad from Togo. He came to Hamburg by ship as a stowaway. When he went to the immigration office and said he is seeking asylum, he was sent to Mecklenburg in eastern Germany. There he had to stay at a camp outside of a small village, where the German inhabitants don`t like to have foreigners around. He was told by another refugee that it is very dangerous to leave the building and that he should not go outside on his own, not even to make a phonecall in the only public telephone box in the middle of the village. He could not learn German, because there were no classes offered. The people of the village were very hostile. He got scared and decided not to stay there any longer but to go back to Hamburg where he thought he could find other people of his country. But he is not allowed to leave that particular German region he is assigned to (residency laws). So when he decides to live in Hamburg, he has no room, no food and he can be collected by the police any time and get sent back to Mecklenburg.
Hospitality to us means giving room and food, a shelter, a family. We are no lawyers and we try not to work as social workers in our house. We are just living together. Everybody shares household duties and takes turns in doing the cooking.
Political and Consciousness Work
"Our problems stem from this filthy and rotten system." Dorothy Day
The outreach work through hospitality in our house cannot be seen without a general goal of a new form of society. In our free quarterly newsletter we write of our life in the house and publish ideas about an alternative lifestyle.
We are actively involved in the solidarity work for refugees in Hamburg, in the anti-atomic-energy movement and in the peace movement (among others). We hold a regular vigil against deportations and for the right to stay at the foreign office in Hamburg and we take part in and at times initiate actions on behalf of the outcast and for a just world.
We pray and worship together, and we have regular "round table" discussions for the "clarification of thought" (Peter Maurin) in our house.
Right from the beginning we formed a non-profit charitable association which is tax deductible. This organization called "Diakonische Basisgemeinschaft e.V." is tenant of the house and finances the living of our refugee guests. Through this association we do fundraising by collecting donations. However we receive no public (national or church) funds.
Unsere Gastfreundschaft für obdachlose Flüchtlinge wird erst möglich durch Spenden und ehrenamtliche Mitarbeit
Hausgottesdienste, Offene Abende und immer wieder mal ein Fest: Herzlich willkommen bei uns im Haus der Gastfreundschaft
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