the bbsa and the late reverend doctor albert frank
Tuesday 1st April 2008

Reflections on The BBSA and the late Reverend Doctor Albert Frank

This short and very dynamic relationship between the BBSA and REV Albert Frank (Al) started with a single letter written to the Unity Synod of the Moravian Church dated 28th July 2002. (See also Reflections on Dr Albert Frank by Abel Appel)

Al responded on that letter and what followed was a relationship that ended with the Unity Brass Band Festival held in September 2007 in Cape Town South Africa. From the first e-mail we had one common thread and it was that although I had at that stage not seen Al we were Moravian Brothers communicating via the internet. We received an invitation to the BBSA from the MMF on the 27th August 2002. The BBSA accepted the invitation from Nola Knouse of the MMF. We could then plan after many e-mails a visit to the USA of 5 members of the BBSA, namely, Tyrone Hitzroth, Ulrich Jansen, from the Eastern Cape Branch and Christo Appel, Ronald Johannes and the late Albert Engel from the Western Cape Branch.

We departed on the 1st June 2003.

We met Al for the first time face to face at the Atlanta airport and then start our tour of the USA. After standing around we wondered who would meet us then Al came walking towards us and his friendly nature made us already feel welcome to a continent we have never set foot on yet.

The time in Bethlehem with Al and his wife Erdmute was the start of a long friendship. Erdmute was pregnant at the time and she was due to give birth sometime in July. This meant that Al had to keep an eye on his wife and still drive us around. We could visit New York. Meet friends there and visit the Moravian Church there. Al also took the long drive down to Winston-Salem where we participate in the 21st Moravian Music Festival and Seminar. Here we saw the other side of Al. He was a great intellectual and teacher of the Moravian History and music. One of the program items were a historical presentation of the great Missionary Spangenberg. Al became Spangenberg every morning.

We can truthfully say that the Music Festival was the highlight of our visit to the USA with Al. We met Moravians and new friends. This made our contact with Al even more significant because through him a new door was opened for all of us. Later Bernard Fortuin and Jo-Lynn Telling executive members of the BBSA could again visit the USA. The idea of a Unity Brass band festival for all Moravian Brass bands were again discussed during this visit. A date for 2007, the 550 year of the Moravian Church was then decided upon. We departed the USA on the 15th June 2003, which ended a memorable time spent with Al and his family with all the Moravians we met in the USA. Once back in SA we heard the happy news the Erdmute Magdelena Frank was born on 3rd July 2003, the same birthday as the writer, this led to a special connection with the young one and as soon as she could talk she was eager to visit SA. This then happened in 2007.

The main organizes of the 2007 festival was the BBSA, Ben van de Bosch of the Netherlands and Rev Albert Frank of the USA. We could then finalize our preparation meetings with a visit to SA of Ben and Al in 2005. We could visit Elim which had a special significance for a historian such as Al. As with all visits to Elim you learn most from the graveyard and this is where we went with Al. After this visit he could tell us that Erdmute’s family were missionaries in Elim and therefore she will come to SA if only to visit Elim with their daughter. The BBSA executive with Ben and Al met in Utenhage to plan the 2007 festival. Al could once again show us his spiritual side by delivering the festival sermon. Ben as usual played on every organ we could find. Al and Ben returned home and we started planning the great event. We heard later of the problems Al had with his toe. We prayed that this would heal quickly.

When 2007 arrived we were well prepared to again meet up with Al and his members from the USA. Five years of planning with Al had finally arrived. That dream that we shared with Al had finally come true and he could arrive in SA with his family. I met Al and the Erdmute’s at the airport and it was a wonderful re-union especially now that he could show of his daughter and I could meet the lady who shared my birthday. Riding down the N2 we saw Table Mountain in all its glory and Erdmute Magdelena asked if it might ever fall over. It was a great site to introduce the Frank family to Cape Town with. The Franks were a few days earlier than the rest of the USA group. After 3 days they left fore PE to join up with the USA group. Who toured down from PE via the mission stations such as Elim and Genadendal.

The great day of the 16th September 2007 arrived and Al could share this great day with us. He attended all practices. He joined in the Holy Communion with another of his great friends in SA, Bishop Temmers. We visited the Moravian Seminary and Al could meet with Rev Cloete to share some ideas on the archives at the Seminary. We had time with Abie Appel and his family whom Al met at the Unity Synod in 2002.

On Sunday 16th September 2008 a large audience heard Al’s great sermon (see BBSA website). Al enjoyed the music, and the entire event on this weekend. We went home tired but happy that the Triangle of Music came together on the 16th September 2008. Joining the World Moravian Bands in one venue making all our planning and prays a blessing for all who could join in this great event.

Our dreams came true. Al could have his final sermon on African soil and we thank the Lord that our paths crossed so many years ago. May Albert Frank rest in peace, a servant of the Lord and a great Moravian. We had the privilege of sharing a little bit of his life.

Our friend Al was called home on the 4th February 2008. Our prays go out to Erdmute and Erdmute Magdelena. May God give you strength and peace so that you stay faithful to him.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Heb 10:23

Christo Appel
BBSA (Western Cape Region)
4th April 2008

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the bbsa and the late reverend doctor albert frank