The Pension Boards was pleased to host Ms. Anna-Nicole Heinrich, the President of the Synod of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD), and Executive Assistant, Jonathan Renau, in their New York offices recently.
Elected in 2021, Ms. Heinrich, at 26, is the youngest person to hold the office in the history of the EKD. “As president of the EKD Synod, I stand for a hopeful, integrating, and pragmatic church that is always reviving itself,” she said in her introductory speech upon her election. Previously a youth delegate to the synod, she studied philosophy at the University of Regensburg and is vice-chair of the Protestant Youth in Germany.
“The election of Anna-Nicole Heinrich for such an important position is not only a sign of recognition of her ability and experience but also a strong testimony to the understanding of the role of young leaders in the church,” said Rev. Dr. Ireneusz Lukas, Regional Secretary for Europe at The Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
At the September 19th meeting with Pension Boards staff, following greetings from President and CEO, Brian R. Bodager and Rick Walters, Director of Corporate Responsibility, staff members provided overviews of the Pension Boards’ work: Minoti Dhanaraj and Andrew Russell presented on ESG and impact investing; Walter Reyes on the PBUCC’s DEI work and “cultural transformation journey;” Jonathan Lee on UCC polity; Rick Walters on sustainability efforts; and Krista Betz on the Next Generation Leadership Initiative (NGLI).
In his presentation, Rick Walters elaborated on how the Pension Boards arrived at the concept of the “intersection of faith and finance” as “an expression of our basic values,” and ultimately detailed in the 2022 Sustainability Report. Ms. Heinrich asked several questions related to sustainable investing and observed that in the EKD, “there is considerable interest in sustainable investment, but it isn’t connected to the faith dimension.”
Ms. Heinrich also noted appreciation for the distinction made by Krista Betz between “the future of the church” and “the church of the future,” saying that it speaks directly to those who want to be part of the church of the future.
Concluding the visit, Ms. Heinrich and Pension Boards staff promised to stay engaged and share resources and ideas in the future.
In1981, the United Church of Christ’s General Synod declared a relationship of “church communion” (Kirchengemeinschaft) with the Evangelical Church of the Union (EKU), the ancestral church of many German-American pioneers who founded the “Evangelical Synod in the United States”—one of the UCC’s predecessors. In 2003 the EKU voted to join with other United and Reformed churches in Germany to create the Union of Evangelical Churches (UEK), of which the Evangelical Church of Germany is a member.