Lutz Drescher passed away this week at the age of 70 after a long and serious illness. I shared many experiences and encounters with him in our relationships with Korea and India. Last summer, I was able to visit him again in Freiburg and share many personal memories. Until the end of his life, he was closely conected with people who were passionate about democracy, peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula.
Lutz worked as an ecumenical co-worker in South Korea from 1987-1995 and was closely involved with the democracy movement at the time and was influenced by Minjung theology (Korean liberation theology). Later (2001-2016), during his years as East Asia and India liaison officer of the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity, his knowledge and relationships with Korea and later also India were important for the further development of our partnerships as Protestant Church of Hesse and Nassau (EKHN) with the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) and the partner dioceses in the Church of South India. As the EKHN’s Asia Secretary and later as the Director of the Ecumenical Center, I worked with him to organize events, meetings, consultations and solidarity campaigns. His commitment to the Korean „comfort women“ (women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied countries and territories before and during World War II) has contributed to the fact that today a statue in front of the EKHN’s Korean congregation Rhine-Main commemorates the victims.
As part of the Korean churches‘ commitment to peace, Lutz has been particularly passionate about promoting encounters between Christians from North and South Korea. The Kirchentag (church convention) in Germany opened spaces for this and during a Consultation in Seoul in 2001, it was decided to hold a joint consultation with representatives of the North Korean Christian Federation KCF. There was an invitation by EKHN to host this consultation and it took place in 2004 in Arnoldshain. This was the beginning of a phase for EKHN which was and is formative for our ecumenical profile and the relationship with our partner church, the PROK. Just one year later, we hosted a small delegation from North Korea and our PROK partner Presbytery in Gwangju. The occasion was the Frankfurt Book Fair where Korea was the guest of honour. In 2008, we again hosted an International Consultation in Arnoldshain on „Peace, Unification and Social Development – Models for the Future on the Korean Peninsula“. This all could only happen with the strong support and close working together with Lutz.
A few weeks ago, the World Council of Churches published an article about Lutz and his importance for the ecumenical movement. To remember him, I share the link to the article.