Local Bonhoeffer Society

Red Wing, Minnesota, USA

The Bonhoeffer Society of Red Wing

In March 2012, Dr. Michael Hayes formed a monthly discussion group in Red Wing, Minnesota to create an opportunity for studying the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 

Written by Mike Hayes, 2012

In 2015, Mike wrote a booklet introducing the Bonhoeffer Society of Red Wing and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life and works. In that introduction to Bonhoeffer Mike wrote, “Though he (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) was born and died in Germany in the first half of the twentieth century we recognize that he and his work are highly relevant in our own day. We, too, like Germany between the wars, are a culture in turmoil and deep, rapid change. Bonhoeffer seems at times to be speaking even more to our own time than to his own. In that sense, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a prophetic figure, mapping the future with sometimes startling accuracy.” 

Mike died in 2018. His words, like Bonhoeffer’s, seem at times to be speaking more to our own time than to his own time. From 2012 until shortly before his death, Mike led monthly discussions on Bonhoeffer from September through May at First Covenant Church of Red Wing. The more popular works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer were discussed as well as lesser-known essays and theological papers. Writings from American history were discussed on occasion to aid in conversation relating German culture to American culture, to past times to our own time.

Lutheran Univ. Press

During these years Mike wrote a book on Bonhoeffer entitled, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Follower of the Living Jesus. This book, subtitled “An Authentic Evangelical Appreciation,” was published shortly after his death. The Bonhoeffer Society of Red Wing held a special event in January 2019, in memory of Mike and to celebrate the publication of his book. Featured speakers were Rev. John Matthews and Dr. Lori Brandt Hale, both representing the English Language Section of the International Bonhoeffer Society. Mike Hayes, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was a follower of the living Jesus.

The Bonhoeffer Society of Red Wing has continued to meet on the second Saturday of each month September through May at First Covenant Church. Beginning in late 2017, various members of the group have led the monthly discussions. Mike’s book was discussed for a year, then came the pandemic. This past year the group discussed John Matthew’s book, Anxious souls will ask…: The Christ-Centered Spirituality of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2005). At the December meetings of each year, it has become the tradition to reflect on the letters and poems of Bonhoeffer written during the Advents of his imprisonment.

Starting September 2022, the group will begin discussion of Bonhoeffer’s “Draft for a Catechism.” The group will then revisit Discipleship, and if time allows, it will end the season with “Protestantism without Reformation”.

Our Society now has a mailing list of 40 members with an average attendance of 15. A light lunch of homemade soup is served at the end of each session to allow for further sharing. All are welcome.




The English Language Section is dedicated to advancing the theology and legacy of German pastor-theologian and Nazi resister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in the academy, church, and world, and has been on the forefront of this work for the last fifty years.

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