2014 Report of the UEK Partnership Ministry Team of the Penn Central Conference
The current partnership between the UCC’s Penn Central Conference and the two UEK Regional Churches (Landeskirchen) in the Rhineland and in Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian-Upper Lusatia is rooted in the relationship of Full Communion (Kirchengemeinschaft) that was established in 1980/1981 by the United Church of Christ and the two Synods of the Evangelical Church of the Union (EKU) in what at the time was the divided Germany. Later the EKU was enlarged to include additional Regional Churches and is thus today the Union of Evangelical Churches (UEK).
In 1990 partnerships were established between the two Regional Churches in the Rhineland and in Berlin-Brandenburg and the Penn Central Conference. The UEK Partnership Ministry Team of the Penn Central Conference continues the work of supporting and promoting the work of Full Communion.
Dietmar Plajer and Sheresa Simpson Rice represented the PCC at the Kirchentag that was held in Hamburg May 1 to 5, 2013. Dwight Hein, pastor at Salem UCC in Campbelltown, and Holly Miller Shank from UCC Local Church Ministries, also attended. The theme for the 2013 Kirchentag was “Soviel Du Brauchst” (“As Much as You Need”).
The UEK Partnership Ministry Team, which met five times during the past year at the Church Center in Harrisburg, is chaired by Dietmar Plajer, pastor of St.Paul’s Church in Selinsgrove. Ed Dickel, Chaplain at Ephrata Manor, serves as the Team’s vice-chair. Doug Macneal has served as the Team’s secretary.
Invitations have been extended to our two partner churches to send representatives to the June, 2014, Annual Meeting of the Penn Central Conference in Selinsgrove, during which Marja Coons-Torns’s ten years as Conference Minister will be celebrated.
The 2013 Partners for Peace event was viewed as a great success by everyone involved. Those attending participated in the 2013 Annual Meeting of Conference and also events in Hartman Center and in Washington. Participants included young adults from the PCC, the UCCSA Namibia Synod, the Dakota Association of the UCC, and the UCC’s Wisconsin Conference. The purpose of the event was to help the participants learn to “think globally and act locally” toward peace.
Members of PCC churches will be attending the theological colloquy that will be held August 17 to 22, 2014, in Berlin. The first in this long series of colloquies was held in January, 1997 in Berlin-Schwanenwerder. The theme this year is “Bonhoeffer’s Theology of the Church and the Practice of Resistence. This year’s event is being hosted by the EKBBO. Chris Anderson serves as the coordinator for the PCC participants.
Don Mason will lead a group if PCC youth and young adults on a Bicycle Trip along the site of the Berlin Wall from July 10 to 21, 2014. Young members from Trinity UCC in Chicago be joining the youth from the PCC and the EKBB0.
The Partnership Team is also supporting the Lancaster Theological Seminary’s Alumni/ae Trip to Germany from August 6 to 17.
The Trip will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Seminary’s Cross-Cultural Exchange Program, the first one of which was held in Germany in 1964.
Dr. Bill Rader will represent the PCC at the Berlin Mission Consultation from August 30 to September 2. The Consultation will include a celebration of the 190th anniversary of the founding of the Berlin Mission Society.
Dr. Larry Smith, who has been serving as pastor of the Mt. Zion UCC in Spring Grove, as accepted a call to serve as pastor in a parish in Oberhausen for one year, starting in the fall of 2014.
From the above one can see that Kirchengemeinschaft is thriving in Central Pennsylvania.
Contact person for the Penn Central Partnership Team is Dietmar Plajer: firstname.lastname@example.org or cell: (570) 541-0121.