It all began in the summer of 1968, when the young pastor of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren in Javorník, Silesia, Adolf Petr bought a half-demolished cottage in the 6 km distant village of Travná in the northernmost tip of the Moravian-Silesian Region. Thanks to foreign contacts, events from the beginning were also attended by young people from different churches in Germany, later guests from Holland, Norway, France and other countries came. The activities gradually became attractive for non-religious participants as well. At joint events, young people could find friends here, a place where they could be useful, and many also found personal faith in Christ.
Even in deep totality, these brigades were partially tolerated, but the parishioners could not have any spiritual program on them. That is why the program itself was ensured by the participants themselves – spiritual (reflections, prayers, open interviews) and physical (work and games). Together they worked together, many holding a trowel for the first time, throwing sand in a mixer, or preparing food for the participants.
In the 1980s, Travná also penetrated the influence of the underground Pentecostal movement, which at that time spread across church boundaries. Travna was manifested by an emphasis on personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, as well as a walk with the Holy Spirit, joyful, living faith and interest in the Word of God, which has something to say in our lives. A special prayer room was created and, following the tradition of the Protective Union of Brethren, a regular prayer chain began to be made. A verse from the Acts of the Apostles: “All who believed were together and had everything in common” the participants experienced somehow on their own, perhaps at a spontaneous prayer moment at four o’clock in the morning.
After 1989 the borders opened and the interest in “Travná” increased. There were about sixty at summer brigades, one hundred at New Year’s Eve and most at Easter-up to 150 participants! The house, whose official capacity was 30 seats, could not accommodate so many people. Very good cooperation was at that time with the Catholic parish at Travná, which rented a secondary parish building for the events.
It has also often happened that twenty or thirty people have arrived more than expected. In the border town it was hard to get bread for so many hungry necks, so Adolf Peter drove to the nuns and brought a pot of goulash with bread, sometimes full of car pies. Adolf and his wife Hana were officially housed in the Evangelical parsonage during the time of totalitarianism, who were waiting to join the order (because the orders could not accept new members at that time).
There was an urgent need to enlarge the premises of the existing building. Due to the official activities, it was necessary to bring the building out of private property. After the negotiations, “Travná” was transferred free of charge to the Diaconia of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren and became a center with a special status. Adolf Petr and his wife donated the houses of Travná to Diakonia, as well as the extensive land they had acquired in restitution. Under the auspices of Diakonia, a barrier-free conference center has been built here, mainly thanks to donations from abroad. However, there were problems during the implementation, the center was not completed according to plans and all activities for young people were temporarily suspended.
It was not an easy time, full of many disappointments and disillusionment. Many pains from this period are still not reconciled and healed. Diakonia’s leadership also stopped international events at that time. It was not certain that the youth encounters, which began in 1968 and survived an uncertain period of totalitarianism, would be maintained. For several years the events were involuntarily moved to the Catholic parish in Travná. The youth wanted to meet further, and therefore the civic association Meetings was established in 1999, which was later renamed Meetings Travná zs.
“The Terns” to continue serving the original purpose and the Synod of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren agreed to transfer part of the property to the association. The association continued to organize events for young people and began to organize irregular family meetings. Activities for people with disabilities were planned. The purpose of the association’s activities is to create a space for meetings and communion of Christians that “through the meeting teaches themselves and others how to live in the pattern of Jesus Christ to transform individuals, families, churches and society” (vision of the association) from churches, but to know that Christianity continues to appeal today. The task of the association is also to care for the entrusted object.
Since 2007 he has been entrusted with the management of Jared Kenning by the General Meeting. Jared leads a team of volunteers who organize youth events at Travná. At present, there is again growing interest in Christian youth meetings at Travná among the new generation of youth. The children of the former “Travnaks” also go there. Regular events continue to be meetings for Easter, summer brigade, autumn holidays and New Year’s Eve. Around sixty young people take part in the events. In 2016, two international brigades were held with friends from the USA, Norway and Germany. The association wants to develop this tradition of international brigades.
Travna is in a way unique, because Christian meetings took place here under totalitarianism (even in the early days with participants from Western Europe), despite the difficult time of transition to democracy in the 1990s (with even greater interest from abroad) until the 21st century. But Travna is primarily a family-type community. It is not a conference event where every comfort is taken care of, but everyone participates in a successful meeting, whether by scratching potatoes, washing dishes, playing guitar, or using themed decorations or a spiritual program. Different people come here who have different approaches to faith and politics, but they share and enrich each other. Everyone is invited to feel at home here.
Anyone who ever visited Travná could tell many stories, a memory that remained with him forever. There are not a few pastors, preachers, or lay people in many different churches who have lived in God’s call. Some of these testimonies are also captured in the publications: Almanac of 2008, which was published on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the meeting at Travná and Almanac’s “Remembering” of 1997.
The 50th anniversary of the meeting at Travná bears the motto: “The mercy of the Lord that has not forgotten” (Lamentations 3: 22). It is an opportunity to meet all the “Terns” and share God’s faithfulness and mercy on Travna and in our lives.