European Christian Educator: Dieter Velten (1941-2002)

John Shortt

EurECA members and friends were shocked and very saddened to hear of the unexpected death of Dieter Velten during the Christmas season.

Dieter had suffered from pulmonary fibrosis for several years. He contracted an infection early in December and was admitted to the University Hospital in Giessen, Germany, suffering from pneumonia. Subsequently his condition deteriorated and he passed into the presence of the Lord on 26 December.

Dieter was 61 years of age and had worked tirelessly as a Christian educator for many years. He was a dedicated schoolteacher and it was only comparatively recently that he retired from this in order to focus on his speaking and writing ministries.

Dieter’s concern for family and education led him into many initiatives as a Christian. He was a member of the EurECA Board from the founding of the organisation in 1991. He was also educational adviser to Gnadauer Gemeinschaftsverband and the chairperson of their working group on education, the acting chairperson of the German Evangelical Alliance’s Working Group on children in church and fellowship (Kinder in Kirche und Gesellschaft) and an Editorial Adviser to the international Journal of Education & Christian Belief.

His speaking and writing made a great contribution not only in his native Germany but in many other countries as well. He was author or co-author of a number of books for use with children and books about pedagogical issues and also many articles in journals and magazines.

Among his books are the recently published Fit für Kids, 41 Trainingseinheiten für Kinder- und Jugendmittarbeiter, the five book series Der Bibel auf der Spur (1998), an earlier five-book series Vorbereitungshilfen für Kinderstund (1993) and Glauben - Lehren – Erziehen, Pädagogen und pädagogische Konzepte im Pietismus (1988).

For those of us involved in EurECA from the start, it is very difficult to imagine future conferences and Board meetings without Dieter’s presence and participation. He was the main organiser of the 1999 EurECA Conference in Berlin. He was always our expert on legal and constitutional matters but his contribution was much wider and deeper than this. His friendship will be greatly missed by us all along with his wisdom and prayerful spirit and his gracious contributions to all our discussions.

Dieter has now passed into the higher service of his Lord and Saviour. We are very sad that he is no longer with us but we thank the Lord for how he enriched our lives and all he meant to us all in so many ways.

Our love and prayers are with Christel, Dieter’s wife, and his children, Dorothee and Jens and their families.

On Christian pedagogy

“There is a fundamental principle of Christian education which is a touchstone for the application of methods: it is love as it meets us in God’s love through Jesus Christ. It becomes concrete in the tension between submission and authority. A loving relationship with children shows itself among other things through acceptance, valuing, understanding, protection of freedom, setting of limits, forgiveness and reconciliation.

A love that is practiced in this way considers the necessary areas of freedom for the development of the personhood of the child and at the same time offers definite helps for orientation and examples.
Some examples from the realm of the school: unconditional acceptance of every student without respect of person; marking all students in the same way; endeavouring to show the same level of love to all, even the difficult student; objective dealing with problems, without injury to the person; consistency and the avoidance of chaos; help and availability to the children over and above the school day.”

Dieter Velten

(quoted from his article ‘Christian Thinking in Education’ in Spectrum, 26:1, Spring 1994, pp. 59-70)