LANCASTER – Every two years pastors from the international partnership between the Penn Central Conference and the Evangelical (Protestant) Church of Berlin-Brandenburg and upper Silesia (EKBO) gather together to share in a time of education, worship, dialogue and ecumenical church community building. A combined twenty-five pastors and presenters took part this year.
This year’s Colloquy took place at Lancaster Theological Seminary from August 21 – 26 with the theme, “The People of God on the Move.” Guided by the lectures of Rev. Hal Tuassig, retired adjunct professor of New Testament at Union Seminary in New York, and Dr. Lee Barrett, Professor of Systematic Theological at Lancaster Seminary, the history of the movement of political, war-time, and religious refugees was explored. Using the contexts of the known world of the first disciples of Jesus within the Roman Empire, as well as today’s refugee migrations to Europe and the United States, comparisons and contrasts were made between those two eras, as well as how our two cultures are dealing with the present migration and immigration of refugees.
We also heard presentations from Rev. Dr. Jim Amstutz, Director of the Lancaster County Council of Churches, about the area working to end homelessness, and from Rev. Karen Sensenig of Habecker Mennonite Church about their unique blended congregation of local Mennonites and the Karen people (pronounced Ka-reen) from Burma who share in worship together regularly.
It wasn’t all work, as the group was also treated to local cultural activities, such as attending a Harrisburg Senators baseball game (a first for many of the German guests), a tour of historic churches and sites in the city of Lancaster, visits to local restaurants for meals, as well an night-time visit to Columbia to see retired York pastor, Chris Anderson, play guitar, banjo and mandolin is his band at a local pub! Of course, the informal conversations and friendship building between and after the events on the schedule were equally as important for strengthening and living out the important Partnership and full communion relationship, “Kirchengemeinschaft,” between the PCC and EKBO. -Dwight Hein
The Colloquy focus on immigration was featured by a local news outlet. Click link to read. Article on LancasterOnline