Born on 25 July 1929 in Bremerhaven, Germany, Groscurth was theological secretary for the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission from 1966 to 1969, after which he became ecumenical officer in West Berlin for the Evangelical Church of the Union (EKU), a position he held until his retirement in 1994. He died in Berlin on 29 May 2023.
“During his tenure at Faith and Order, Dr Groscurth was deeply involved in bilateral dialogues, including discussions with the Roman Catholic Church and in Lutheran-Reformed conversations,” WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay wrote in a message of condolence to Groscurth’s family and his wife, Christiane.
Pillay noted how Groscurth’s contributions extended to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the WCC Latin America Working Group, studies on deaconesses, and many other fields of work, as well as working to support United and Uniting churches around the world in his position at the EKU.
As EKU ecumenical officer in West Berlin, Groscurth played an important role with his opposite number in East Berlin, Rev. Dr Christa Grengel, in maintaining contacts between the Protestant churches in East and West Germany, during the time the country was divided.
Groscurth and Grengel also helped strengthen the relationships between the EKU and United churches in other parts of the world, including the United Church of Christ in the United States, and the United Reformed Church (URC) in the United Kingdom.
Dr Stephen Brown, who edits the WCC quarterly The Ecumenical Review and who originally comes from the URC, recalled how he first met Groscurth in West Berlin.
“He played a key role in my own ecumenical formation by helping to organize my WCC scholarship in East Berlin in 1983,” remembered Brown. “He was the courier for important ecumenical correspondence destined for the East German churches and would find ways of getting it from West to East Berlin across the then walled border and past the border guards.”