EKHN and UCC NY Conference visit Cleveland, discuss refugees

EKHN and UCC NY Conference visit Cleveland, discuss refugees

[The following is a translation from German of a press release issued by the Protestant Church in Hessen and Nassau, a member church of the UCC’s partner in Germany, the Union of Evangelical Churches (UEK), and Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).  The Evangelical Church in Hessen and Nassau has a partnership with the UCC’s New York Conference, and a delegation from the EKHN, with the Rev. David Gaewski, New York Conference Minister, visited the national offices of the UCC on Friday, Sept. 4.]

Press release September 9, 2015

Refugees: More US commitment required

During US trip refugee aid in Europe was dominant issue

Darmstadt / Cleveland (USA), September 10, 2015. The Church President of the Protestant Church in Hessen and Nassau (EKHN), Dr. Volker Jung, and the Church President of the United Church of Christ (UCC), John Dorhauer, have urged the US government to take on more responsibility in the refugee crisis in particular for seeking help from the Middle East. When visiting the partner church in the US, the refugee situation in Europe was one of the dominant themes, said Church President Jung after his trip on Wednesday in Darmstadt.

US communities, particularly in the south of the country, are also active in refugee work and have included, approximately, 1,000 Syrian refugees. However, it should be observed that the current American policy has a “tendency for stronger protectionism”. The Protestant church representatives from the US and Germany would, given the situation in Europe, welcome “the United States to be more clearly open to, and to take in more refugees from Syria”. Said Jung: “charity and humanity are not values ​​which must be limited to a country or a continent. The current refugee crisis challenges the entire international community. “

The EKHN itself committed to date in at least 60 municipalities with specially funded projects in the refugee relief. The support ranges from language courses to aid in housing. In addition, the Evangelical Church in Hessen is responsible in Rhineland-Palatinate for over 20 professional bodies for the advisory work of refugees. There are also accommodations in Wiesbaden, Mainz, Jugenheim, Egelsbach, Grävenwiesbach and Friedrichsdorf. Recently the church stopped the planned sale of the overnight house of the former religion Pedagogical Convention Center in Kronberg-Schönberg. The facility now houses 40 refugees. EKHN and Diakonie Hessen this year will spend approximately three million euros of their own budget on refugee aid.

Jung explained that during conversations with our American partners it was apparent, “how close our theological convictions are”. It was for both churches important “to testify to the gospel of Jesus Christ in the world by incarnating service in this world and for this world”. This means, according to Jung, “to stand up for the rights of every human being – in the concern for fair living conditions and the fight against all forms of discrimination”.

Church President Jung visited the United Church of Christ beginning on August 29, the purpose of which was to visit to the New York Conference, and the national headquartered in Cleveland. Other topics included the expansion of meeting programs for young people, the reciprocal opening of training of ministers and laity, the exchange of ecclesiastical organization models and the debate about the current situation in Israel and Palestine. The EKHN and the New York Conference of the UCC have enjoyed a partnership since 2007. Comprising the state of New York, the New York Conference of the UCC has about 36,000 members. (Nationally the UCC has approximately 1 million members, compared to the EKHN with approximately 1.63 million women and men.

Darmstadt, September 10, 2015 Responsible: Rev. Volker Rahn, Spokesperson