March’s missionary profile is about Rev. Robert Flohrs and his wife, Rita, serving the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) in Frankfurt, Germany.
Rev. Flohrs serves as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, an English language congregation partially funded by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Office of International Mission and supported through the sending of missionaries like Pastor Flohrs and Director of Christian Education (DCE) Intern Kendra McNatt.
Rev. Flohrs earned his undergraduate degree in Speech/Drama at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD. He received his M.Div. from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 1985, beginning a second career. He worked in the insurance industry and retail management before becoming a pastor. An undergraduate degree in Speech is surely an asset as a preacher, and Pastor Flohrs says that his work in the insurance industry taught him to be disciplined and to be a good listener, both skills which are helpful as a pastor.
Rev. Flohrs and Rita took the call to serve as Career Missionaries in Frankfurt in August 2009. Before that time, they lived and served in Minnesota, Florida and Arizona. During their time in America, they led several short-term mission teams to Germany. They worked with LCMS partner church congregations of The Selbständige Evangelisch—Lutherische Kirche (SELK) to provide VBS type programs and workshops. Rev. Flohrs and Rita became acquainted with many SELK members and pastors during this time. Due to this contact and their familiarity with Germany, says Rev. Flohrs, “The LCMS World Mission [now LCMS Office of International Mission under the restructuring] regional director at the time, Rev. Dr. Brent Smith, contacted me to see if I was open to being on a call list for Trinity, Frankfurt. The Holy Spirit moved the congregation to call me in June of 2009 and me to accept the Divine Call as pastor.” Rita says that their children (2) and grandchildren (9) have responded well to their work overseas and have been supportive from the beginning. However, it is still difficult to be away from family.
Trinity Lutheran Church in Frankfurt is a unique call with its own joys and challenges. Trinity is an English-speaking Lutheran church mainly serving international members of the Frankfurt community. Some of those who attend Trinity are Americans from the nearby military base or the American Consulate, as well as many who work for civilian businesses. However, there are also many other nationalities represented who speak English as a mother-tongue, second-, or even third-language. Native Germans who speak English also attend Trinity. In all, there are about 15–18 different cultures that worship and participate in activities at Trinity. Pastor Flohrs notes that this is one major difference to his previous service in the United States, as well as “language and customs.”
Given that Frankfurt is a very international city, and given the nature of the expatriate lifestyle, one of the main challenges and differences from the U.S. that Pastor Flohrs notes about his work is the very high rate of turnover for members/attendees. People are often returning to their home countries, or being transferred elsewhere by their jobs. This can create difficulties in continuity, for instance, in committee memberships and church leadership. Yet, the people of Trinity continuously put together amazing activities, such as the Christmas Coat Drive, caroling at the hospital across the street and at the main train station, a recent Celtic Connections evening, an annual bazaar, Thanksgiving potluck dinner and beautiful music by the Sanctuary Choir, as well as the affiliated Trinity International Concert Choir (TICC).
However, this same mobility also contributes to many of the joys of serving there. Pastor Flohrs lists his joys as “Getting to know so many people who have moved from all over the world to Frankfurt and then have become part of Trinity congregation. To see the positive impact our LCMS has made in proclaiming the Gospel [is also a joy]. The congregation has responded well to the Lutheran Biblical teachings that have been offered through Adult Bible class, Sunday School and Teen Bible Study.” Some of Pastor Flohrs’ best memories so far, among all of the wonderful memories he has of service and life in Frankfurt, “come down to the work of the Lord as people come to know a living and loving Savior. That being said, the favorite memories are baptizing adults—which has happened several times over the last 4.5 years.”
Trinity’s unique position as an international church reaching out to an international expatriate community means that Trinity has a special role in people’s lives. Pastor Flohrs notes:
Mainly Trinity is a refuge and a comfort through congregational members to those who are in transition—either moving into or out of the Frankfurt area. The Gospel of Jesus Christ gives people comfort in knowing Him. The people of Trinity stand ready to listen, guide and encourage those in transition. We cannot be frustrated that so many of our members come and go, rather we must remember that this is part of our mission field. Through Word and Sacrament ministry, the Holy Spirit continuously reminds people of the forgiveness and hope for the future. There is a lot of stress moving into a different country/culture and Trinity can provide a stable and welcoming environment in order to help people through a difficult time in their lives.
Rita adds that expatriates often say that “having a ‘familiar church home’ has made being away from home so much easier. It is important to give those already in the faith a comfortable place to be renewed.” Additionally, the coming and going of members gives Trinity the ability, much like International Student Ministry in the U.S., to impact places far beyond its walls and its city with the Gospel. As Rita adds, “A main part of our ministry here is to equip people to go out and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ—wherever they may live!” Some ways in which Rev. Flohrs, Rita and Trinity do this are simple. Pastor Flohrs says that for those within the faith, the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel (aside from in Divine Service) comes through simply listening, praying for or with and encouraging one another. For the non-believer, as mentioned above, Trinity is involved in the community through mercy work and through music. Trinity’s affiliated choir, TICC, is directed by Dr. Jerrode Marsh, Trinity’s director of music. Both believers and non-believers alike sing in the choir. The majority of their repertoire is sacred music, and some choir members have begun attending church as a result. Also, TICC is well-known in the community for its wonderful choral music, and its concerts are well-attended by many people from the community beyond church members. In this and other creative ways, Trinity involves itself in the community, proclaiming Christ, and letting it be known that Trinity is there for the people of Frankfurt.
Additionally, the fact that Trinity is an English-speaking congregation in Germany speaks to the needs of the expatriate business community there. Rev. Flohrs explains that “English, especially in Frankfurt, the economic hub of Europe, is the business language. With so many cultures who are at Trinity, English for some is their 3rd language, for over half it is their first language and for a high percentage it is the second language. So we provide a Christian setting where everything is done in English.”
Rev. Flohrs and Rita have enjoyed their time living in Germany and in Frankfurt over the past 4.5 years. They have been a blessing to their congregation. Please pray for continued proclamation of the Gospel to all the many different cultures and needs found in Frankfurt. Also, keep Rev. Flohrs and Rita in your prayers as they continue to serve as Career Missionaries in Frankfurt. To learn more about the the Flohrs family and Trinity, you can watch this short video produced about two years ago by Rick Steenbock.
Fun Facts About Rev. Flohrs and Rita:
- Rev. Flohrs and Rita love to travel. They have been able to visit many places both personally and for work including: Wittenberg (and all the “Luther cities”), Dresden, the German Alps, Hungary, Turkey, Georgia, Malta, Sweden, France, Great Britain and more.
- They enjoy watching American sports.
- They treasure learning about the cultures of Frankfurt and Germany, especially all of the different festivals.
- Rita enjoys reading, walking, biking, jigsaw puzzles, knitting, Sudoku and word games, as well!
- Support the Flohrs Family.
- Tell others about Trinity Lutheran Church, Frankfurt if you know of people visiting or relocating to the area!
- Pray for the congregation to continue to be strengthened and encouraged in the faith.
- Pray for Pastor and Mrs. Flohrs that they would be strengthened for continued service.
- Watch for the March 19th Eurasia Blog Wednesday devotion on “My Song is Love Unknown.” There will be a video of Trinity’s Adult choir singing an arrangement by Dr. Jerrode Marsh. Rita sings with the choir!
Tags: adult baptism, American consulate, business, choir, coat drive, English-speaking, Expatriate, Frankfurt, Germany, Gospel, Jerrode Marsh, Life Together, Mercy, Rev. Robert Flohrs, Rita Flohrs, Trinity International Concert Choir., Trinity Lutheran Church, Witness, Word and Sacrament