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Erkner Genezareth Church

But because you say so, I will ...

Can you continue this sentence? Perhaps you'll ask the opposite question: "In whom should I have such great confidence, that I take so great a risk?" "But because you say so, I will ..." has been through the history of our Church and community the basis of our belief. This was the reason to name our church "Genezareth-Church".
In St. Luke Chapter 5, Vers 4 we read: Jesus spoke to the fishermen at the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Genezareth). They had worked painstakingly all night, were exhausted but had found nothing in their nets. Jesus told them: "Go out again!" Peter, the fisherman replied "We fished all night in vain. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." So he realised at this moment that his trust in Jesus would lead him into a new liberated life.

With these same words "But because you say so" Abraham ventured into a new country, Moses went to Pharaoh and led his people from bondage in Egypt, prophets proclaimed a new era in which war would be studied no more. And Mary said YES to the birth of Jesus Christ. We can see similar events of faith through the years in the history of the Genezareth-Congregation.
These we have recorded here. May you as an Erkner citizen or visitor be inspired by our Genezareth-Church. The church bells will welcome you to hear Gods word in services, concerts and events in the community centre "oikos" and again and again to take the risk " But because you say so, I will ..."



The community of Erkner was first mentioned in 1579, but the Christian history of this area began earlier in 1157. In the Middle Ages monks discovered limestone near Erkner. This led to the economic development of this region and so followed the great settlement with the foundation of villages. A policy of King Frederick II had this same result as he supported agriculture in the region. Because of the increased population church buildings were needed. At the beginning of the 19th century Erkner was only a little fishing village. It belonged to a neighbouring community. But in the time from 1847 to 1896 the number of inhabitants increased from 175 to about 3.000. This was because the railway and factories had been built. From 1863 Erkner had its own cemetery but the construction of its own church was delayed. The services were celebrated in the railway station.  

The construction of Genezareth Church

There was a great desire for a church to be built. The negotiations regarding this were not successful. In July 1895 the Empress Augusta Victoria supported the request of the residents of Erkner. She assumed the protection of church construction, but the costs were considerable. A generous donor was the famous piano factory owner Carl Bechstein. He donated the site for the church, the organ, the bells and the stained glass windows. Construction began 4th May 1896 guided by the Bible words: For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. (Corinthians 3, 11)
The construction took 18 months. The Consecration was held on 24th October 1897.



The Genezareth-Church peal of bells consists of three big steel bells. They were cast by the Bochumer Association for Casting Steel Manufacture. The bells were donated by Carl Bechstein, dedicated to his three sons and bear their Christian names Edwin, Karl and Johannes.

The biggest of the three bells bears the inscription: cast from Bochumer Association J. Bochum: 1897.
Beneath that is inscribed: donated by C. Bechstein
Also inscribed on this bell the name: Edwin, Glory to God in the highest
This bell is tuned to the note "a" and weighs 2.600 kg

The middle bell inscription reads: Karl, peace on earth
This is tuned to the note "e" and weighs 1.000 kg,

The smallest bell reads Johannes, good will to all mankind
This is tuned to the note "fis" and weighs 700 kg

Bells of the Genezareth-Church, 4:00 minutes

or download mp3-file (4,1 MB): click here

The destruction of the Genezareth Church on 8th March 1944 and the rebuilding

The Genezareth-Church, the Luthersaal and the adjoining rooms, also the pastor's house (a rented villa in the Löcknitz Str.), were totally destroyed by bombing on 8th March 1944.
All fixtures were completely burned, even the parish registers which were in a safe. This was in the basement of the pastor's house. Only one baptismal book remained and is now unreadable. The silver plated Communion vessels were considerably damaged. Thanks to a generous donation they were restored in 2005 and they are in use to this day. Also the superb piano (Bechstein Flügel) fell prey to the flames. But the steeple housing the bells survived. After two years silence and reconstruction they rang out again on Easter Sunday 1946. In 1948 under adverse conditions brought about by the war, the rebuilding of the Luthersaal began. It was completed in 1951. The roof of the steeple was repaired in 1952.

The re-dedication of the church took place on 4th May 1958 - Sunday Cantata
The doors were opened with the words from the Bible: "Lord, I have beloved the place of your house and the position, wherever your glory is living".
Almost 50 years later, in 2007, the whole church was reconstructed.
In 1970 the Luthersaal was extended to accommodate the growing congregation.
In 2003 many extra rooms were built to be used by all generations, from Kindergarten to Senior Activities. We named the house  "oikos", which in Greek means "House of Generations".

Parish life

You can find news and information about our local congregation in the bi-monthly parish magazine, "Genezareth Bote". It has been published since 1925 and today is still an important part of our church life.
The little magazine is a real source of what is going on in the congregation. For instance: The list of all the groups which meet here with days and times. Some groups and circles were temporary but others exist until the present time. The oldest parish circle was the women's group founded in 1902. Its tasks, inspired by the Good Samaritan, were to help the poor, old and lonely people.
One of the highlights of our congregation is the "Ten Days of Peace" which has happened every year in November since 1980. During these ten days prayers and different events, promoting Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation, take place.

The Kindergarten

The dream to have a nursery was fulfilled after many years when, in 1993, the parish took over the nursery in the Seestrasse. It was then switched next to the church and in August 2003 moved into the newly built Parish Centre "oikos". Since then it has been known as the children's Day Centre "Am Kirchturm" ("Church Tower").

Congregation Centre

People across the generations fill the home and church with life. This is well-illustrated by the many groups using our church as their meeting point. Above all, the worship services; the children's and youth choirs; the regional instrumental circle; the trombone groups; the O.A.P. dance group; meetings for children and young people in the parent-and-child groups; children's Sunday School; meetings for pre-schoolers, school children and young people; confirmation classes; Bible study group; mothers union and Senior circle.

The Organ

The organ was built in 1961 with 40 stops, 3 manuals, one pedal and 2400 pipes. It is, therefore, the biggest organ constructed by the Firma Sauer in our district (county).It was completely restored in 1994.

The Choir

The choir was founded in 1912. In that same year it sang at the Harvest Festival Service. The choir's first church concert was performed as early as June 1913. The choir's sacred music, together with music from around the world, plays an important role both in Erkner's musical life and when singing in other venues. A particular highlight of the choir's life was the performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio (cantatas I-III) in 2005.

Ecumenical Partnerships
Partnership Halsteren and Nieuw Vossemeer / Netherlands

The partnership with Halsteren / Nieuw Vossemeer was established in 1981.
In the following years mostly young people travelled to Erkner to support the idea of partnership in our congregation. Often a theme like the reconciliation between the Dutch and Germans, or the integration of foreigners, had already been prepared at home. During the visit they were discussed. Only senior citizens were given permission for return visits. Since 1990 all members of both congregations take part in these exchange visits.
Contact: Jan van Staalduinen, http://www.pkghnv.nl

Partnership with Vigala / Estonia

The partnership with Vigala began in 1991. The Estonian congregation has approximately 650 members. They meet regularly for services in the St. Mary's Church, built in 15th Century. The church has an altar and a pulpit in the Baroque style from the 17th Century. We go to Vigala regularly to visit our partners there. The members of our congregation learn how church life has flourished since the independence of Estonia.
Contact: Pastorin Kristiina Jogi, http://www.eelk.ee/vigala/

Triangle Partnership

The partnership with Vigala was created from the beginning as a triangular partnership with Halsteren. In the years 1998, 2000 and 2002, 10 young people from all three countries met in Erkner, Halsteren and Vigala. We welcome guests from Estonia and the Netherlands in yearly meeting.