The Words of the Wilkening Family

Germany: 20th Anniversary of the German Church

Christoph Wilkening
March 1985

Gertrud Koch, Rev. Young Hwi Kim, and Elke van der Stock cut the anniversary cake.

On December 11, 1984, the German Unification Church commemorated the 20th anniversary of its registration as a legal association. Because the German church was the first one to be established in Europe, its founding is considered also to be the beginning of the European church. Therefore, on December 11 all European leaders gathered together with the four regional leaders, all department leaders and center leaders, and early members of the church in Germany. They met together in the training center in Camberg, near Frankfurt.

Rev. Young Hwi Kim, leader of the European and German church, gave an opening address on "The Significance of the 20th Anniversary of the German Church." He said:

When Mr. Peter Koch came to Germany, he suffered very much in order to lay a foundation to start the church. We have learned from history that whenever something new is started, the initiator must pay a high price of sacrifice. The most important thing is to maintain the same spirit of sacrifice throughout the duration of one's mission. It is easy to start with determination and a good spirit, but to maintain this over a long period of time is extremely difficult. We are celebrating this day in order to renew our determination, to renew ourselves, and to restore the original spirit with which Peter Koch started his mission here in Germany. Each one of us must reflect upon this and restart our work in Germany and Europe. That is why we are here. We must examine our past way of doing things in our church.

The past 20 years and the 20 years to come will be different. The past 20 years have been a very precious period because we planted our roots during this time. What we have done will influence our future. Today we look back at what we did in the past. If there is something wrong, we must correct it. If we don't, if we just continue as before, there is no sense in celebrating this day; God won't be happy. If we change and correct ourselves, however, I think this day will have great meaning. Everyone has shortcomings, so we should all reexamine ourselves and repent, making a new start today. Then next year, when we celebrate the 21st anniversary, we can have a better feeling and return greater joy to Heavenly Father and True Parents.

In the morning and early afternoon of Nov. 11, brothers and sisters who had joined the church in the sixties and early seventies gave testimonies about their experiences during the early times of the church. In the late afternoon, movies from Father's first visit to Germany, the IOWC work in England, and the visits of Ye Jin Nim, Heung Jin Nim and Un Jin Nim were shown. The day closed with an uplifting performance by the Go World Brass Band.

Karl Leonhardtsberger presents a certificate of appreciation to Rev. Kim.

The Roots of the German Church

The roots of the European and German church go back to the spring of 1961, when Young Oon Kim started to witness in San Francisco. There several Germans who lived in America joined the church. After a few years some of them went back to their home country. The first one was Peter Koch, who arrived on June 11, 1963, in his hometown of Muenster, Germany. Following him were Ursula Schuhmann, Barbara Koch (Vincenz), Paul and Christel Werner with their 11-year-old son Klaus, Elke Klawiter, and Peter Politzki. The first member who joined in Germany was Reiner Vincenz, who joined in the summer of 1964.

The first German center was a small garden house in the backyard of another building in Frankfurt. During the day the members worked at different jobs and in the evening they went out to witness until late. Peter Koch gave the lectures. Reiner Vincenz was the first one who witnessed on the street.

In 1965 Father came to Germany for the first time and gave his first public speech there in Frankfurt on August 1. He established holy grounds in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Essen. He then travelled through the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Aust, is and Italy to establish holy grounds.

In March 1969 True Parents visited Germany for the first time together. They were accompanied by Mrs. Choi, Mr. Eu, Dr. Y. O. Kim, and Mr. Kuboki. On March 28 the following couples were blessed in Essen: Dennis Orme and Doris Walder, Peter Koch and Gertrud Guese, Johann van der Stock and Elke Klawiter, Reiner Vincenz and Barbara Koch, Gerhard Kunkel and Romana Maierhofer, Teddy and Pauline Verheyen, Paul and Christel Werner, and also Martin Porter.

On May 11, 1969, Paul Werner took over the leadership of Germany, while Peter Koch took over the leadership of Austria. In the following months many new centers were opened. Five persons from Germany took part in the 1970 Blessing of 777 couples in Seoul, Korea.

The choir of the Frankfurt church performs at the evening entertainment.

Father Speaks in Essen

True Parents visited Germany for the second time from March 23 to 31, 1972. Father then gave his second public speech in Essen. Mobile witnessing teams travelled throughout Germany. During 1973 more than 100 German members, including Paul and Christel Werner, went to America and helped in the IOWC work there. Between February 23 and 25, 1975, Germany sent 80 missionaries to foreign countries. In September of that year 120 members of the IOWC came from England to Germany. Then in October True Parents visited the German family in Camberg where 800 members from all over Europe came together. He had a difficult time communicating to the members because of the many different European languages.

On December 3, 1977, Paul Werner left Germany and developed the shipbuilding company in Alabama. Father then installed Reiner Vincenz as the new leader of Germany. Ye Jin Nim, Heung Jin Nim and Un Jin Nim visited Germany in July 1978. In the summer of 1980 many brothers and sisters went for 40 days to small cities all over Germany to enhance home church work.

In June 1981 Father visited Germany for the fifth time. On June 13, he blessed 39 couples who were previously married and on June 14 and 15, he engaged 150 couples. In January 1983 Reiner Vincenz came to America and started to lead an IOWC team. Rev. Young Hwi Kim then took the responsibility for the German church. Ulrich Tuente was his assistant until the beginning of this year, when Karl Leonhardtsberger assumed that post.

Until 1981 Father's focus when visiting Germany was to build up the German church: In 1965 he tried to create a base for witnessing, in 1969 he established a foundation for blessed families, and in 1972 he held his first major public speech in Germany and encouraged the German church to expand to the national level. From 1981 on he has wanted to connect Germany internationally with the Far East, Africa and America. Seeing that poverty is the worst and most difficult international problem, his vision for Germany is that it serve the underdeveloped countries with its tremendous technological and spiritual resources. 

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