'Kirchengemeinschaft' between the UCC and the Union of Evangelical Churches (UEK) in Germany

In 1981, General Synod declared a relationship of full communion (Kirchengemeinschaft) with the Evangelical* Church of the Union (EKU). The EKU was an historic union of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions in Germany. It was the ancestral church of many German-American pioneers who founded the "Evangelical Synod in the United States"—one of the UCC's antecedent tradtions.

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 commitments of the 1981 declaration of Kirchengemeinschaft will be transferred by the action of both churches to the new UEK.

Relationships between the U.S. and German churches are broad and deep. A number of UCC congregations partner with Evangelical parishes in Germany, and there are formal exchanges between UCC Conferences and their partner Landeskirchen (regional churches) of the UEK. Youth and clergy exchanges are common. The leadership of the two churches frequently make common cause on issues of international relations and social justice.

* While "evangelical" in the U.S. is often understood to mean a certain conservative tradition of Christianity, in most other languages the word simply means "Protestant." The first Christians to call themselves "evangelical" were the churches of the Lutheran Reformation in Germany; most Protestant bodies in Germany call themselves "Evangelical," "Evangelical Lutheran" or "Evangelical Reformed." Luther chose the word because it closely identified the Reformation with the Gospel: the Greek word for Gospel is evangelion, so an "evangelical" church can be understood simply as a "Gospel church."

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Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson
Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115