Guest blog by the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Kleinhans, Mike and Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission at Wartburg College

The word “companion” is rooted in the experience of sharing bread with someone.

Members of the Northeastern Iowa Synod have the opportunity to do just that by participating in a ‘Reformation Then and Now’ trip during May 2017, which includes visits with one of our two companion synods, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary.

Most of the significant Martin Luther sites are located in what was East Germany until German reunification in 1990.

I first traveled to East Germany as a college student and have made many trips to “Lutherland” since.  However, in the past 5 years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Lutheran pastors and church leaders from other Eastern European countries, including Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Poland.  Persecution of the churches under communism was more severe the farther east they were.  I came to value what I learned from Eastern European brothers and sisters in Christ about perseverance under pressure, as well as

I came to value what I learned from Eastern European brothers and sisters in Christ about perseverance under pressure, as well as commitment to work for the improvement of their societies after the fall of communism.

Next year, for the second time, I’m expanding my Wartburg College May Term course on the Reformation to include visits to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.  In 2013, Bishop Ullestad and a handful of synod leaders joined my students and me midway through our trip, traveling through Eastern Europe and spending an extended time with our companions in Hungary.  In 2017, it could be you!

We will hear from Hungarian Lutheran Bishop Tamás Fabiny about how the Lutheran church in Hungary is responding to the Syrian refugee crisis.  We will visit the Lutheran Roma College, which supports marginalized students as they pursue university degrees.  We will talk with the YAGMs (Young Adults in Global Mission) who are serving as volunteers in Hungary this year – all of whom are supported by donations from the Northeastern Iowa Synod!  And we will break bread together.

For information or to register for the May 12-24 companion synod trip, visit



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.




, ,