Glimpsing a congregation through the church window

“A church in which people feel at home…” This is precisely what can be accomplished when members commit themselves to their congregation and work together. It was in this manner that the congregations of Kelkheim and Bad Soden (both in Germany) became acquainted with one another—and found their way into a brand new fellowship.

Anyone who visits the newly constructed New Apostolic Church of Kelkheim will immediately notice the church windows. And you don’t need to be an expert to recognise in them a depiction of the Taunus region—the adjoining low mountain range—or discover elements of the emblem of the New Apostolic Church.

Such church windows are actually rather unusual to find in the New Apostolic Church. Most of the time you only see geometric shapes in the glass. Jonathan Spindler calls this an “abstract, coloured surface barrier”. The lively alternative that ended up in the building did not simply fall into his congregation’s lap, however.

A path leads to the church

Kelkheim is located in the Anterior Taunus. The area features rolling hills and many hiking trails. The locals know the paths there, have hiked them, walked them, or cycled over them. And there is a path on the window that leads directly to the church.

The congregations of Kelkheim and Bad Soden are following a common path. Starting in April 2019 they began celebrating divine services in Bad Soden as a congregation—only to move into a new building in Kelkheim later on.

When the planning for the new church building began, the brothers and sisters wanted to help form and shape their new feel-good congregation. They decided to form a congregational committee comprised of interested and committed representatives from all age groups who were included in the decision-making process. Hiawatha Wolf, who is actually responsible for the children of the Kelkheim community, took over the coordination of this group.

Ideas with insight

When the time came to discuss the designs for the church windows, the members weren’t exactly impressed at first. “We wanted to incorporate the Taunus region a little more, perhaps by including more shades of green and not so much red,” relates Luisa Alinski. The teenager is studying 3-D fashion design and management, and wanted to make a suggestion of her own. She is the daughter of the Priest responsible for the youth, and was thus well informed about the renovation from the start.

“I didn’t really have a good grip on the overall concept,” she admits. So it was that she approached Jonathan, who she knew was very creative. The confirmation teacher is not all that young any more, but he always has good ideas that the young people are happy to implement. “Jonathan was totally enthusiastic about the idea and went on to develop a concept.”

Mountains, water, and the cross

Jonathan envisioned a window that would showcase the positive qualities of both congregations while at the same time reflecting the environment. Many ideas flowed into the design. For example, the water stands for the spa town of Bad Soden, but also for the encounter between Jesus and the woman at Jacob’s well, which in turn represents the strong women of the Kelkheim community. A modern interpretation of the emblem shows that this is a special New Apostolic congregation. The spiral is a symbol for development and change, but also represents the creation...

Luisa merged the lines on Jonathan’s design and digitised the concept, which quickly received the assent of the congregation. As coordinator, Hiawatha took on the task of implementing the design with the glazier. “We had to find the right colours, the right glass, and the right technology,” she relates. “We looked at all the different types of glass at the glazier’s in Paderborn, and kept pushing different panes around until I finally said: “That’s how I can imagine it.”

Built on concrete rings

Bishop Jürgen Kramer conducted a divine service on 25 April for the building’s dedication. He based his sermon on a Bible passage from 1 Corinthians 3: 11: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” As the Bishop explained, the church building was constructed upon 23 concrete rings. “The firm ground, the foundation of the church building, is thus assured in physical, earthly terms,” he added. He went on to inspire the members of the congregation to list 23 “concrete rings” that make up the security and the stability of the newly established congregation. He suggested four fundamental points to them, namely the Apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers, which are well known from Acts 2: 42.

Not even the Bishop could avoid talking about the church window, however: “The paths are to lead through the Taunus, through the city, through this hilly landscape, and to this church, which is symbolised on the outside with our emblem,” he said. “They are to invite and guide people to come inside.”

In general, the feedback on the church window was positive—even though not all the members were able to see it live. Hiawatha hopes that the pandemic will soon be over so that there can be a proper inauguration: “a big party where the whole congregation can be present,” she enthuses, “We want to have a congregational celebration with all the trimmings. That is something we will definitely do!”

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Katrin Löwen
Congregational life