Two communities separated by an ocean and perhaps a sizeable sea of political history got a chance to share cultures this month in Grove City.

Two communities separated by an ocean and perhaps a sizeable sea of political history got a chance to share cultures this month in Grove City.

As part of a 20-year relationship, St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church at 3220 Columbus St. hosted members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lbtheen, Germany, from July 10-22.

The church members, ages 9 to 62, visited at their own expense, said St. John's pastor Don Allman. The visitors stayed with church families and were taken to Niagara Falls, Washington, D.C., the Ohio Statehouse, and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. "The beauty and the grandeur of the Niagara Falls really impressed them," Allman said.

Members of both churches participated at a worship service at St. John's and a dinner afterward on July 17.

Twenty years ago, both churches first visited each other, and visits with smaller groups have taken place more recently.

Allman visited Lbtheen in 2006.

It is a small community of about 5,000 people, a part of eastern Germany that was previously under Communist rule, Allman said.

"They have a strong sense of faith," he said.

Allman said said some of Lbtheen's streets have cobblestones. One could walk anywhere in town, and most did.

People would buy fresh baked goods daily. People's homes were comparable to those here, only smaller, Allman said. Sometimes multiple generations shared one home.

Allman said the church members make trips to see each other about every five or six years. This most recent group was probably the largest group since the original trips 20 years ago. Allman said he plans to organize a trip to Lbtheen next year or the following year.

Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said the city has also had a relationship with Lbtheen for two decades.

The city hosted a breakfast in honor of the guests to recognize the "sister" city relationship on July 15 at City Hall. Stage and other staff members attended.

"It was refreshing to see them enjoying freedom," Stage said.

The mayor and the residents of Lbtheen will become honorary citizens of Grove City, Stage said.