The Ecumenical Relations Mission Team represents and encourages official and informal partnerships, beginning with Pennsylvania Southeast Conference and Penn Northeast Conference joining together as members of the team. In 2017 members volunteered to relate to each aspect of the team’s mission emphases, now defined as: Guatemala, Cuba, Germany, South India, Shared Ministries, and Ecumenical.
Anhalt District Church Partnership
This map illustrates the partnership of our United Church of Christ through the denomination’s UEK (Union of Evangelical Churches – with Evangelical meaning Protestant) with the German Protestant Churches now united as the UEK (Union of Evangelical/Protestant Churches) and their UCC Working Group.
Presently five PSEC churches are in partnership with churches in the Anhalt District Church, Dessau:
St. James United Church of Christ, Havertown; Trinity Reformed United Church of Christ, Collegeville; Trinity United Church of CHrist, Holland; Good Shepherd/Tuckerton United Church of Christ, Reading; and PNE’s Solomon’s Church, Macungie.
In October 2013 four pastors serving Union or Federated (Lutheran and United Church of Christ) congregations in PSE and PNE Conferences were guests of the Anhalt District Churches. Now in October 2016 six pastors visited from Oct. 11 through 17th – with Sunday, the 16th, being the time when the group attended the 275th anniversary celebration at Jerusalem Western Salisbury, Allentown, PA.
Oct. 17th, the send-off day, was first spent at the PNE annual Pastors’ Day held at St. John’s Church, Whitehall, Allentown. The featured speaker and presenter was the President of the United Church of Christ, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer.
The hosts who volunteered through their pastors were: St. Peter’s, Macungie; Jerusalem Western Salisbury; St. Peter’s, Mantzville; New Bethel, Kempton; Trinity, Collegeville.
The schedule was at least 2-3 days of unstructured time – spend with host; one day for a specific presentation at NE Lutheran Synod office near AEB airport, a central location with good facilities for meeting and worship. The presentation/discussion will include all shared ministry and union churches, viewing of Jane Kropa’s PowerPoint of Evangelical and Reformed and Lutheran connections, and discussions of shared concerns:
- Being church in a secular society
- Guests’ impressions of American life and religion…and the count-down to the US Presidential election.
The dominate and recurring theme was the upcoming National election. Since our visitors were raised “behind the wall” and know what it was like to be a political prisoner, and attempting escape to the West was a deadly choice, and the plight of today’s refugees reinforced the memory of WW II boxcars packed with people headed for a death camp, they awakened a consciousness to be “Matthew 25:40” Christians, and our need for their partnership to encourage us to be a Christian community committed to that calling.
Our partnership continues with The Fellowship of Baptist Churches of Cuba formed in 2007 when a group of Conference representatives, led by members of Old First Reformed United Church of Christ in Philadelphia, visited Cuba. Since then several groups have exchanged visits to make connections with Cuban Christians who share a passion for the gospel and a commitment to the church.
A quote cited in last year’s report is included, now in celebration. as earlier it was in anticipation:
”In February Rev. Darryl Cruz, Pastor St. John’s Church, Reading, (now Pastor of Trinity Church, Telford) and I are attended the Annual Meeting of The Fellowship of Baptist Churches, worship with local congregations, revived old friendships and made new ones. (Adapted from letter by Rev. William P Worley, Conference Minister, PSEC, UCC) Regular communication continues and donations from churches go to a Cuban church’s three times a week meals for needy children. $66.48 feeds one person for a year.”
As a note of interest and the inter-relatedness of the Anhalt and Cuban partnership: In the past the Anhalt Church served as the conduit for money-gifts to our Cuban church partners.
Expanded Partnership with PNE Conference’s Guatemalan Mission
With the PNEC Board of Directors approval to be partnered with the PSEC Ecumenical Relations Mission the partnership enables both Conferences to share in PNEC’s Guatemalan Mission. A moving presentation was given by lay volunteers, Karen and Roger Heim, from PNE showing their Amigos de Guatemala project to provide health care for the people of Monte Margarita. Now funds are being raised to construct a medical clinic/community center there.
Armenian Evangelical Union of North American (AEU-NA)
Through the Armenian Martyrs Congregational Church (AMCC) in Haverford, PA, PSEC is partnered with the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (AEU-NA). AMCC has dual allegiances: Ethnically, they are Armenian Evangelical and belong to the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; denominationally, they are loyal to the United Church of Christ. More information can be found here http://www.ucc.org/about-us_hidden-histories_armenian-congregationalists.
Carrying the October 31, 2017 – 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Forward…
- “A Civil Conversation on Religious Differences” intended to be ongoing seminars centering on the real issues that started the 500-year old Reformation – the real difference among various Christian traditions- Protestant, Catholic, and Anabaptists – and the shared hope for finding common ground in a world of division. An online study guide is available at: https://www.thischangedeverything.com/companionguide
- PSE/PNE Pastors were guests of our partner Anhalt District Church’s President Rev. Joachim Liebig, May 24-29, 2017, attended by Conference Minister Rev. Bill Worley, and Pastors Jerel Gade, Martha Kriebel, Russ Mitman and Ruth, Cheryl Moore, Homer Royer, Frank Schaffer and Diane, David Smith, Bob Stewart.
- World Exhibition to held in Wittenberg, July 25-Aug. 1, through the UEK, our UCC delegates from Pennsylvania Conferences were: Rev. Dwight Hein, Penn Central Conference (Salem UCC, Campbelltown, PA), Rev. Dr. Martha Kriebel, Pennsylvania Southeast Conference (Trinity Reformed UCC, Collegeville, PA), Rev. Dr. David Charles Smith, Penn Northeast Conference (Jordan UCC, Allentown, PA) who was selected to attend the 46th Meeting of the UCC/UEK Forum at March 14, 2017, at the Kirchenamt der EKD, Hannover, Germany.
- The Oct. 29, 2017 Ecumenical Observance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation “Celebrating One Baptism in Christ,” sponsored by the Philadelphia Liturgical Institute, Convener Rev. Dr. F. Russell Mitman, and held at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral with Conference Minister Rev. Bill Worley participating.
All of the above named people welcome invitations to share these experiences and the thrust they give to carrying the Reformation FORWARD…
- The “Red Box” is a symbol. During the Summer Reformation in Wittenberg the town square that features the statue of Martin Luther standing in the center before the town hall, is flanked to his right by a stature of Phillip Melanchthon. To the left there was a large red box with the word on one side: “STEHE” for “I stand.” The invitation to take a stand, to be TODAY’S REFORMER, to center our life in Christ and carry out His ministry in church and world.
The ERMT is chaired by Rev. Homer Royer (PNEC).