Our Partnership With the United Church of Christ
Scripture Theme: “God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
The Berlin-Stadtmitte Church district (KKBS) has a strong partnership with the New York conference of the United Church of Christ (UCC), an international partner church of the EKD.
At the end of April and beginning of May 2022, after being cancelled in 2020, the KKBS finally took our trip to our UCC partners in New York. We visited and interacted with several UCC churches. Each church is a part of the same Denomination but is unique and valuable in its doctrine and worship styles. This diversity makes our partnership extremely significant.
This year our group was exceptionally diverse as well. Besides our KKBS members, we also included Ignatius, a dear friend and Catholic priest. Below are his thoughts about this journey and ecumenical cooperation:
The same Christ.
This statement belongs to a quotation that has accompanied me from my studies and throughout my ecumenical journey. The contemplation comes from a monk: Thomas Merton (1915-1968); after an eventful life, he was a Trappist in the monastery of Gethsemani in Kentucky: "For in my soul and in your soul, I find the same Christ Who is our Life, and He finds Himself in our love, and together we all find Paradise, which is the sharing of His Love for His Father in the Person of Their Spirit. The same Christ - that was and is a profound experience that I can have again and again; even if some things are strange or unfamiliar to me, it is the same, Christ.”
My reflections on one week in New York, with people from the protestant church, ministers, and lay leaders, mainly from Berlin: The visit to the United Church of Christ (UCC) was such a fantastic experience and a profound one at that: ... the same Christ. I am very grateful that I could be there as a Catholic priest. The encounters, the people, the welcome, the places, the commitment, the dedication to others, the radical openness, the questioning and correcting of oneself, the testimony of one's own life, in addition to the prayer, the gospel singing, the worship service - all of these impressed me very much and it still has a strong impact (and I would like to let it have a further and deeper inspiration ...).
The same Christ - He is the one who unites us and who makes it possible for us to let each other be different, without fear of each other, without reservations, with respect and esteem, with affection and even love - that makes us Christians, colorful and diverse, diverse and creative. How wonderful.
Here are the UCC partners we visited during this trip.
Judson Memorial UCC Church
Judson Memorial UCC Church: at Washington Square. We had an extraordinary meeting with the Rev. Micah Bucey and Rev. Julie Johnson Staples. We talked about their current transitions, changes, and new opportunities in our respective communities.
Rev. Micah Bucey outlined the history of the three legs of Judson's “stool:” Spirituality, Justice, and Art. Along with Rev. Julie Staples, they showed how these three legs had shaped Judson’s past, continue to mold who they are, and keep them open to growth and becoming who they need to be.
Micah will also talk about the unique interfaithless of their congregation and the unique ways that Greenwich Village has formed Judson's approach to church and vice-versa.
Greenpoint Reformed UCC Church
The church´s mission: Greenpoint Reformed Church is a community where together we worship, heal, question, and rejoice; where all are fed in body and spirit; where all are welcomed with the radically inclusive love of God.
The church´s vision: We hope for and struggle toward a city and world made whole in community; where hunger, insecurity, and exclusion are no more. We share our talents, resources, and compassion to move closer to this vision.
While visiting the Greenpoint Reformed UCC Church, we helped with their Hunger Program. We talked with Rev. Ann Kansfield and other church staff about reaching the underprivileged and disadvantaged in our corresponding communities. We enjoyed giving back to the local community of Upper Brooklyn.
Rivers of Living Water UCC
Rivers of Living Water UCC is a new church partner. Their authentic testimonies of Jesus changing people’s lives and restoring hope moved us. Because, as we know, even in the darkest moments of our lives, there is a light and hope.
We were blessed by the opportunity to listen to some magnificent Gospel Music.
NY State Council of Churches
The New York State Council of Churches comprises eight partner Denominations detailed on our Member Denominations page. Each Denomination sends representation to the Executive Committee and provides financial support to the United Church of Christ (UCC). In addition, other denominations outside the Unitec Church of Christ, who are members of the National Council of Churches, may also have representation at the Council.
UCC NY Conference Minister
As always, it was a delightful meeting with Rev. David Gaewski, Conference Minister of the UCC NY Conference. We learned about the history of the United Church of Christ, UCC DNA, and the entire UCC denominational structure. Rev. Gaewski, we are very thankful for your continued, lasting support for this partnership. Since you are retiring in June, we wish you the best and promise to continue the collaboration in your spirit.