“I’m full of joy, redeemed, set free” is the slogan being used by the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. It is taken from the opening lines of a psalm-poem by the Rhineland cabaret artist and writer Hanns Dieter Hüsch (1925-2005).

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Ökumenische Begegnung: Partnerbesuch im Kirchenkreis Düsseldorf-Mettmann aus dem Kongo. Ecumenical encounter: visit to the District of Düsseldorf-Mettmann from their partner church in the Congo.

Worldwide Ecumenism

A living community across the whole world

The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland has links with fellow believers across the whole world at all levels of the church - local, district and regional.  There are partner congregations and partner churches in Africa, Asia, as well as one in the USA. 

These partnerships – whether local, district or regional – are a living community.  They offer an opportunity for ecumenical learning about development policy and intercultural issues.  One of the things that binds us together is taking common action in campaigns and projects, for example in workcamps for young people. The promoting of partnerships is also an important instrument for strengthening a church-based movement against authoritarian and corrupt church leaderships.

The ecumenical department of the Regional Church office provides support for these partnership links.  Just a few examples:  co-operation in seminars organised by the Ecumenical Workshop, advising local committees responsible for partnerships and also district executive groups, participating in international partnership consultations, advising on the available facilities, organisation and work programmes of partner churches, and finally advice for partnership groups about funding.

Partner churches in Africa

The Rhineland Church is in contact with 13 partner churches in Africa, concentrating on those which are members of the United Evangelical Mission (VEM).  There are particularly strong links with churches in Namibia. As a result, in 1990 the EKiR entered into a special agreement with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN).

There is a historical background to the relationships with churches in Africa, which grew out of the missionary activity of the Rhineland Missionary Society in the 19th century.  In the present time there are still missionaries who are particularly drawn to the task of spreading the gospel in the former South West Africa (now Namibia) and Tanzania.

The German missionaries founded mission stations which in the changing course of history became independent churches and are now regarded as equal partners in the international church community. 

Partner churches in Asia

In Asia it is also a case of the partner churches of the EKiR being members of the VEM.  The Rhineland Church is in contact with fifteen partner churches, with a special relationship since 2004 to the Hura Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) in Indonesia.

The historical background is similar to that of the churches in Africa.  In Asia it was again the missionaries who fulfilled their task by founding mission stations which sowed the seed for what have now become independent churches.    

United Church of Christ (UCC)

Through the Union of Evangelical Churches in Germany (UEK), the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland (EKiR) has since the early 1980’s had church fellowship with the United Church of Christ (UCC) in the USA.

The UCC sees itself as a “Just Peace Church”, standing for a multilateral understanding of democracy, for the overcoming of racism and the abolition of the death penalty. The EKiR shares with its partner church a concern for confronting these issues.

Specific partnerships – now established in written partnership agreements – exist with the Penn Central Conference (PCC) in Pennsylvania, with the Southern Conference (SOC) in North Carolina and South East Virginia, and with the Wisconsin Conference (WC).

Ways of working together include special internships for ministers in training, ministerial exchanges, lecture courses and conferences.  An example is a two week programme for a visit by ministers, teachers and legal advisers from the SOC in May 2007 and in April 2012, a course in pastoral studies in the Wisconsin Conference in October 2012 and the Partner Peace Event of the Penn Centre Conference in June 2013. 

Other worldwide relationships

World Council of Churches

United Evangelical Mission

Other relationships around the world include Bread for the World, Kindertnothilfe (Help for Children in Need), World Communion of Reformed Churches and Lutheran World Federation.

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ekir.de / photo: Anna Siggelkow / 17.11.2016



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