Honored with the ECCB Medal of Appreciation

The ECCB Synodal Council has honored two friends of the ECCB in autumn 2012 with a honorary medal. Both honorees live in Germany and have just celebrated their 80th birthday.

The first honoree is Professor Dr. Martin Stöhr. Martin Stöhr has been connected with the ECCB since the 50s. He took part during his student days in Bonn, whilst being a student of Prof. Hans Joachim Iwand, in encounters with Prof. Joseph L. Hromádka and other ECCB representatives. The quest for reconciliation between Czechs and Germans was equally important for him as was the Christian-Marxist dialogue in the 60s. During the 60s Martin Stöhr also took part in the All-Christian Peace Meetings of the Christian Peace Conference (CFRP) whose way he didn't share any more after 1968. As part of the events for the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the totalitarian regime in autumn 2009, he made an important contribution reflecting on the way the Church lived through the time of totalitarianism. In all areas where Martin Stöhr has worked, he has been campaigning for a widening of the look behind the 'Iron Curtain' and has organized meetings between people from East and West: From 1961 to 1969 as student chaplain at the Technical University of Darmstadt, 1969 to 1986 as director of the Evangelical Academy Arnoldshain and from 1986 to 1997 as professor of theology at the University/Comprehensive University of Siegen. He lives in active retirement with his wife in Bad Vilbel.

Besides the dialogue between East and West the encounter between Christianity and Judaism was very formative for Martin Stöhr. He has contributed and influenced significantly the Jewish-Christian dialogue in Germany and in Europe. From 1990 to 1998 he was the president of the International Council of Christians and Jews and is now its honorary president. Martin Stöhr is co-founder of the organization 'Study in Israel' that facilitates a year of study in Jerusalem for theology students. Czech students have also had the the opportunity to participate in this program for many years. Only this year an agreement was signed between the ECCB and 'Study in Israel' which ensures the possibility of the participation of Czech students for the future.

A conference to honor Martin Stöhr and his contributions took place in September 2012 at the Evangelical Academy Arnoldshain during which Rev. Gerhard Frey-Reininghaus, the head of the Department for Ecumenical Relationships, presented the honoree with the medal on behalf of the ECCB Synodal Council.

Rev. Dr. Ernst Uhl celebrated his 80th birthday in October in Bremen. As part of the birthday celebration an ECCB delegation presented Ernst Uhl, who is linked to the ECCB since the 60s, with an honorary medal. Ernst Uhl was from 1963 until his retirement in 1996 pastor in the parish of Bremen-Bockhorn, where he and his wife still live. Lidice has a special meaning for him, this small village near Prague which was completely destroyed by the Nazis in 1942 as revenge for the assassination of the so-called Deputy Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich. Rev. Ernst Uhl has perceived the history of this village and the terrible fate of its inhabitants as a personal challenge: Repentance and credible signs of reconciliation were for him his response to the tragedy of Lidice. Uhl has taken many people from Germany and especially from Bremen on this path of penance and reconciliation. But he has also invited many people from Lidice to Bremen where the 'House Lidice' is. The launch of this initiative is also thanks to Ernst Uhl. The 'House Lidice' serves as a youth education center and keeps awake the memory of Lidice. Ernst Uhl was named an honorary citizen of Lidice in recognition for all that he has done. Ernst Uhl has worked in collaboration with the ECCB in founding the 'Oaza' which was built as a home in Lidice, a center for reconciliation and meeting and a house in which many older people from Lidice and surroundings have found a new home. Ernst Uhl still travels regularly to Lidice, attends the meetings of the administrative board of 'Oaza' and preaches in the ECCB Church in Kladno. Also Ernst Uhl participated many times in meetings of the Prague Christian Peace Conference. These encounters were the context and one of many ways which were used by Ernst Uhl to advocate reconciliation, peace and understanding - despite the 'Iron Curtain' which made the encounters between people from the East and West extremely difficult and sometimes even dangerous.

Both honorees have been touched to receive the medal and were happy to express on this occasion their closeness with the Czech Brethren, the Evangelical Theological Faculty of Charles University, Prague, and in general with many people in the Czech Republic.

Gerhard Frey-Reininghaus