Our Sister Congregation
St. Bartholomew Church - Wittenburg, Mecklenburg, Germany
Newark Church's German visitors spend day in Hocking County
By MARIKA LEE Logan Daily News Reporter
LOGAN — About 30 Ohio residents and 20 visitors from Germany shared lunch in Logan as part of a long-standing partnership between two Lutheran churches more than 4,000 miles apart. Members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Newark and St. Bartholomew Lutheran Church in Wittenburg, Mecklenburg, Germany shared a luncheon at the home of Bill and Suzanne Whittman in Logan on Wednesday. The Whittmans are members of the church where Suzanne’s father, Bill Rauch, is the pastor. Bill Whittman and other members of the church organized a trip to Hocking County for the 20 German visitors, which include many married couples and families with children. Some of the visitors went on a hike at Old Man’s Cave and others toured the Washboard Factory. Everyone gathered at the Whittman’s house at about 12:30 p.m. for a luncheon.St. Paul’s partners with St. Batholomew through the Southern Ohio Synod, which matches up 15 congregations in Southern Ohio to 15 in Mecklenburg, Germany, according to Rauch. Members of the St. Paul’s and St. Bartholomew congregations have visited each other numerous times over the years. They are hosted in the homes of members of each church and spend about a week learning about the other’s culture and church. Rauch and St. Bartholomew’s Pastor Martin Waack said the partnership is able to expose both congregations to different cultures and ways of thinking.“ American thinking is another way than people from Germany. It gives us a new view,” Waack said. Rauch said he and Waack have talked about giving donations to the church, getting people to volunteer, and evangelism because they were all things restricted to the church while it was operating behind the Iron Curtain. Wittenburg is in former East Germany, which was controlled by the Soviet Union from the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. “It was difficult to meet other people because it was thought to be dangerous. The Communist tried to hinder communication like this,” Waack said. Suzanne said the former lack of communication with other cultures has made their visitors very cordial. “The people are great and very welcoming because the East had very little western influence until recently,” Suzanne said. She and her husband were part of the group that went to Wittenburg in 2011. Bill said the hand bell players and choir went too, and had the chance to perform in St. Bartholomew’s 800-year-old church. St. Bartholomew’s was founded in the 13th century. “We have made a lot of good friends,” Suzanne noted. Many of the visitors from St. Bartholomew’s hosted people from St. Paul’s when they went to Wittenburg or are family members of people who have gone before. “It was cool that we really made a connection,” said Jan Reingert, a member of the hand bell choir who is hosting a husband and wife.