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Delegation from EKHN, sister church in Germany, visits New York Conference

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Check out Photos from the Delegation's Trip to New York

I spent the last week hosting a visiting delegation from our partner church in Germany. The group included Volker Jung (President of the Protestant Church in Hessen and Nassau); Detlev Knoche (EKHN Ecumenical Officer); and Friedhelm Pieper (Ecumenical Relations for Europe and North America). We covered a lot of ground from the U.N. and all around NYC through the Catskills to Syracuse. Visited a rare Rudolph Bultmann collection of writings at Syracuse University. Met with conference ministry team, Judson Memorial staff, Commission on Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations members, the Lutheran Bishop of NY Metro area. Met with UCC General Minister and President John Dorhauer, UCC Europe Executive Peter Makari, and Executive Minister for Wider Church Ministries Jim Moos.  Also with the help of Rita Root we spent several hours in conversation with Interim Ministers.
We also shared some cultural experiences such as Ground Zero, the Liberty Tower, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I showed off Niagara Falls where Dr. Jung learned the expression “bucket list” (which he then checked off as we left the Falls).
In every setting we discussed the refugee crisis in Europe and especially in Germany, as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Dr. Jung is the chair of the National Protestant church’s “Commission on Migration and Integration”. Whenever I have spent times with Germans I am always sensitive to their sensitivity discussing the Nazi era of their history. They do not avoid this topic, but I always can sense the pain they feel when the subject arises. Here is what I have been thinking: The headlines of the German newspapers last Friday was “German Churches receive refugees with smiles of welcome.” Dr. Jung was deeply joy-filled reporting this to us. At the same time when Micah Bucey spoke about the new sanctuary movement in which Judson is engaged; and when John Dorhauer spoke about his experience on the Mexican boarder and the inhumane ways in which the U.S. government has treated undocumented persons; I then understood the deep sadness that scares German history, as it now carves a scare in our own history. I long for the modern day equivalent to Dietrich Bonhoeffer to reflect theologically on the merciless treatment of humanity that we support financially and with our silence.
Rev. David R. Gaewski, Conference Minister

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