–By Elizabeth Ahlman
The Lukaskirche Project took a huge leap forward recently when the renovation and restoration process began. The project is a joint effort between The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (SELK)’s Lutherische Kirchenmission (LKM — the mission arm of the SELK) and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS). The local SELK congregation, St. Trinitatisgemeinde (Holy Trinity Congregation), will move into the historic empty late-19th century church on Easter Monday. Not only will necessary repairs be made, but the church also qualifies for “Denkmalschutz,” that is, historical preservation, which comes with some funding. The goal is to fully renovate the church and hopefully restore it to its original historical look.
Rev. Hugo Gevers, SELK and LKM Missionary to the migrants and underserved, writes:
Two experts are deeply involved in the pre-construction reports, which are necessary before construction can begin. The first expert, Herr Malangerie, is in charge of all the wood work. His task is relatively straight forward. He will check the woodwork for signs of poisonous mildew as well as signs of any serious damage to the woodwork in the roof of the church. This is important to see if there is any structural damage and to give us a professional go-ahead that the building is safe to use on a regular basis.
The second expert, Herr Wagner, has the task of prioritizing what must be done first, second, etc. He will work with archivists of the church property to compare how the church previously looked to how it looks now. Herr Wagner has found what he believes to be the original wall decoration under layers of white paint in the chancel. He is hopeful that this will be found throughout on the walls of the now painted-over church. He believes this was originally very colorful. Rev. Gevers says that Herr Wagner’s “colleague and mentor will assist him next week to ascertain whether it is viable to expose all or only some of this beautiful artwork.”
Other historic considerations include a once raised pulpit which was removed sometime in the church’s history, and placement of the altar, which was once fixed against the back of the Chancel, but now is free standing forward.
One of the top priorities for Herr Malangerie’s work during the pre-construction phase has also been testing a corner in the balcony where the roof has been leaking. There appears to be either mold or mildew growing in that corner. His report will come in on Monday, noting the type of mold and the safety of using the building. It is almost certain that the building will be declared safe for use. If this is the case, the final contract between LKM and the State Church will be signed.
Other issues include more leaking in the roof above the organ, causing paint chips to come away and drop into the organ pipes. This will need to be rectified before restoration work can begin on the pipe organ. The pipe organ will be renovated with funds from the LCMS so that LCMS Career Missionary Rev. Dr. Christopher Ahlman can fulfill his role in the project by creating outreach efforts through sacred music — organ recitals, choirs, special services and more.
Throughout the process, the construction experts, congregants and representatives from the State Church (from whom the building is being leased) have consulted over the most important tasks. As the congregation takes to the space on April 6, they will likely worship and live with the renovations going on around them for several months.
The LCMS, LKM and an anonymous family of donors from the SELK have already provided some of the necessary funding to help with renovations and other costs for the project. The goal is that the congregation would become more visible in the city of Leipzig and better able to proclaim the Gospel throughout the city, as well as serve the poor, migrants, and underserved people who live around the church in an area of Leipzig called Volkmarsdorf. The project focuses on Witness, Mercy and Life Together as it seeks to create a sustainable congregation where Word and Sacrament are visible and available, and where the members are able to serve the surrounding community with works of mercy, all as they live their Life Together. The current members of St. Trinitatisgemeinde are a seemingly small band, but they are strong in the Lord.
- Learn more about the multi-faceted work in Leipzig.
- To support this project with gifts towards the renovation of Lukaskirche you can send your gift to: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 790089, St. Louis, MO 6310-79-0089. Note that it is for the Germany Leipzig Church Plant.
- Learn more about Rev. Dr. Christopher S. Ahlman.