Sixty years ago, Frankfurt-Hügelstraße, Germany, was first founded. In May, the congregation inaugurated their new building with a celebration of God’s love and faithfulness.
“We have around 200 people attending our church. There are 30 different nationalities representing a multicultural city background,” said Pastor Wolfgang Schwarzfischer, lead pastor. “In our kindergarten, we have a similar situation. From our 36 children, just two or three have two ethnic German parents.”
The congregation had recognized unmet ministry opportunities in their community that required more space to minister more effectively to these needs, so they decided decided to construct the new building. It offers 10 family apartments at an affordable rent price, a counselling and therapy center, and space for social services, such as ministry to the homeless, cooking hot meals, and the kindergarten, which serves families in the neighborhood. It was designed to also be ecological, with solar power, a green roof and a system to reuse some of its water.
The church’s 10 new apartments are available at a rate much lower than the average rents in the city, and are being made available to residents from the community.
“Many families have to pay 40 to 50 percent of their income to rent an apartment,” Schwarzfischer said. “With moderate prices, we provide 10 apartments for almost 30 people. It may sound like it is not much in a city where 15,000 to 20,000 people are searching for apartments. But this is what we can do.”
The church will rent to both Christians and non-Christians, so that those who don’t know the Lord have the opportunity to share community life under the influence and care of loving believers.
“Now, around 30 people (family and singles, older and young) live there, encourage each other, help and support them — a strong Christian testimony in our part of Frankfurt. So, our dreams became true,” the pastor said.
A counseling center has also been operating on the church’s property, offering services not just to members of the congregation, but families whose children are enrolled in the kindergarten, as well as residents from the surrounding neighbourhood.
Pastor Wolfgang says, “We have worked with divorced families. Problems like violence, insecurity on how to raise children, and school problems have affected the families of our community. So, we thought this was a great opportunity to provide space for a therapist to help on a professional level.”
As a center for contextualized outreach in a multi-cultural community, the new building has all the essence of a missional space. That is why the congregation chose to call it the Alice and Jerald D. Johnson Building, in honour of the first missionaries who were part of the church.
The Johnson family lived in Germany during the 1960s. To this day, the elders from the neighbourhood talk about the “impressive American guy,” his caring wife and the lovely children. Pastor Wolfgang says, “The Johnsons opened their house and hearts to many people, providing home, help and a new view towards God.”
The inauguration of the building was a memorable day for everyone who has seen the church grow and has seen the work they have done in the community. More than two hundred people gathered at the building to celebrate, including the Johnsons’ daughter, Carla Sunberg, who grew up with her family in Germany, and in June was elected by the global denomination to the role of general superintendent.
The Germany District Superintendent Ingo Hunaeus, and the rector of European Nazarene College, Dr. Klaus Arnold, also took their time to be part of the celebration. A former pastor of the church, Dr. Hermann Gschwandtner, did not miss this day, as well.
With the new building now open for ministry, the Church of the Nazarene Frankfurt-Hügelstraße continues to bring healing, community and the love of Christ to their part of Germany.
By Nicole Almeida
Note: We have corrected an earlier version which misstated the previous presence of the Church of the Nazarene in Britain.