By Rev. Dan Doty, member of the Ohio Conference German Working Group and Pastor, Trinity UCC, Wadsworth
Members of the Ohio Conference German Working Group fostered long-term relationships with our partners through the sharing of worship and song, by offering theological presentations, and by enjoying German hospitality. Five representatives traveled to Germany in September to celebrate 25 years of formal relationships at the United Church of Christ Forum held by our partners in Westfalia.
Conference Moderator Mindy Quellhorst brought greetings from the Ohio Conference during a speech given at the Friday night gala dinner held in celebration of the Kirchengemeinschaft (church community) agreement which began 25 years ago. Mindy spoke of the past, present and future. Mindy’s father, the Rev. Ralph Quellhorst (then Indiana-Kentucky Conference Minister) was instrumental in developing this partnership. The Ohio Conference Delegation presented the Präses Annette Kurschus (“Conference” Minister) with an engraved Wendell August Forge silver platter. German Working Group Member Daniel Doty was asked to sing on the gala concert and presented two selections, “Dein ist mein ganzes herz” and “Anthem” from the musical Chess. Doty also planned and implemented the Saturday morning worship service.
German Working Group Member Sandy Lindahl was the keynote presenter on the Saturday morning plenary session. Her presentation was entitled, “Shifting Sands: Grappling for Identity, Place and Power.” The Biblical image was one of a person who builds on sands that shift as opposed to the “solid rock.” She used this as a metaphor for how we respond to the drastic changes in our society and churches. She touched on the current heated political campaigns and the global refugee crisis and she outlined how congregations can be “on the move” as urged by General Minister and President Rev. John C. Dorhauer.
The UCC Forum also included a presentation by the Westphalian Minister for Refugees and small group discussions about the programs of our partnership.
The Westfalian Landeskirchen (conference) also partners with the Indiana-Kentucky Conference UCC. These two American partners alternate years as guests of the forum. Because of the special 25th Anniversary festivities, the Ohio delegation was joined by the Indiana-Kentucky Conference. Conference Moderator Mindy Quellhorst and Ohio Working Group Members Sandy Lindahl, Joyce Schroer, Beth Long- Higgins and Daniel Doty comprised the delegation.
Our German hosts offered hospitality by housing our delegation in their own homes. Many took part in the Sunday morning worship services in the respective churches in which they were hosted.
This Ohio-German partnership is an outgrowth of a 1981 UCC General Synod resolution that declared a relationship of full communion (Kirchengemenischaft) with the “Evangelical Church of the Union” (EKU). This church was the ancestral church of many German-American pioneers who founded the Evangelical Synod of the United States, which is one of the United Church of Christ’s predecessor denominations. In 2003, the EKU joined with other “United” and Reformed churches in Germany to create a larger body, the Union of Evangelical Churches (UEK).
The German Partnership is a thriving ministry of the Ohio Conference. Individuals may become a part of this dynamic and growing partnership by seeking more information about the Ohio Conference German Partnership Working Group. Churches may also explore partnership with German churches. Please direct your questions to the working group chair Sigrid Rother by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org.