28 Mai 2010 | Windhoek

Tracing the past - The Lutheran parish in Windhoek celebrates the centenary of Christuskirche

Christuskirche (Christ Church) in Windhoek was consecrated one hundred years ago, on 16 October 1910. During the five months which remain until that date, the parish is celebrating the centenary with numerous events. Among them is a historical exhibition and the parish office is still looking for original documents from the church's eventful past.

"Dir, Herr, sei das Lob, das froh aus Windhoek zu Dir klingt! Hundert Jahre schon Dir die Gemeinde Ehre bringt. (...) Deine Christuskirche, ein Symbol für Land und Stadt, unsere Heimat ist und Wegweiser auf uns'rer Pad." [For you, Lord, is the praise which joyfully rings out to you from Windhoek! This congregation has praised your glory already for a hundred years. (...) Your Christ Church, a landmark of the country and this city, is our home and a signpost on our way.]
These are the first lines of the hymn with two verses which Irmtraut Koch, a teacher at DHPS, composed for the Jubilee. The festive service saw the world premiere of this piece of music: the congregation, accompanied by the organ, the trombone orchestra and church choir filled the hymn with life and sound for the first time.
The festive service was only the first in a long series of events and projects planned by the ELKIN parish in Windhoek until October. The coming months are intended to be a time of recalling the early beginnings: e.g., what was the political and social situation in the country like when construction of the church started in 1907, shortly after the end of the war between Germans and Nama, Herero and Ovambo? How was the sandstone from farm Goche-Ganus, some 30 kilometres east of Windhoek, transported to the building site? Where did the marble for the portal and altar come from? How was the organ brought from the small town of Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart to Namibia? Like the bells from Apolda in Thuringia? And who were the first faithful who poured into the church in 1910 after architect Gottlieb Redecker had handed the key to Pastor John Hammer?

In order to do justice to the eventful past, an exhibition of historical documents, pictures and contemporary reports of the times has been put together. It is an ongoing process, however, and the parish is still looking for contributions: "We would like to ask anybody who keeps photos or documents from the past 100 years stored in their basement or attic to bring them to the parish office if those documents have anything to do with Christuskirche or with a special event in the past," says Bishop Erich Hertel. At the end of the exhibition documents and pictures will be returned to their owners, of course.

The exhibition in Christuskirche was opened in early May. The idea is to enlarge it continuously by adding further documents as they appear. It is also envisaged to publish a little booklet which will contain memories and extraordinary occurrences written down by the pastors who have officiated at Christuskirche over the years.
Extraordinary and even a little mysterious is the story behind the Lego model of Christuskirche. It stands about one metre tall and was probably made to order in the eighties by Lego in Denmark. The model has been in the shop window of the toy shop Sam's Hobbies and Toys in Klein Windhoek for the past 15 years. For the duration of the Jubilee exhibition it has now been brought into Christuskirche - one church within another.

It still remains unclear, however, who ordered the model and how old it is. Sam Joubert, who started Sam's Hobbies and Toys, is getting in touch with Lego to try and shed some light on the exact circumstances of the model. Perhaps there are other models of Windhoek's Christuskirche in other places around the world of which we are just unaware?

The name Christuskirche is found in numerous other German parishes all over the world. "In Germany alone there are far more than 100 such namesakes", says Pastor Rudolf Schmid. The festival committee has sent letters to all of these parishes asking them to contribute a message to the Jubilee. Answers are expected to arrive during the coming months. They will be read out at services and then become part of the exhibition in the church. A commemorative stamp has also been commissioned to mark the occasion and will be issued on 6 August.

An art competition was held at German-speaking schools in Windhoek: students were asked to produce a work of art on the Christuskirche theme in an art form of their own choice. The competition was run in four age groups until the end of April. Cash prizes and vouchers were awarded for the best pieces in each group and they will be exhibited at the parish bazaar held at the Parish Centre (Gemeindesaal) on 12 June.

The main celebrations will take place during the Jubilee weekend of 17/18 October. Numerous guests of honour, also from Germany, have already confirmed their visit. On 3 October, two weeks ahead of the big festivities, all the music groups of the parish will hold a joint concert.

More information about the Jubilee and the history of Christuskirche can be found in the Afrikanische Heimatkalender, renamed "Perspektiven 2010" on the occasion of the Jubilee, which is available from the parish office.
DELK (ELKIN) Parish Office, P.O. Box 233, Windhoek; Tel. 061 236 002 or 061 224 294.

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