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Grundsteinlegung der Martin-Luther-Kirche

Bericht aus dem Sydney Morning Herald vom 30. Januar 1882

The foundation-stone of the first German Evangelical Lutheran church to be erected in Sydney, was laid in North Goulburn Street on Saturday last by Mrs. R Krauel, wife of the German Consul-General. The building, part of is up, will be in accordance with designs prepared by Mr. T. Dixon Chater. It will cost about £2000 and accommodate 220 persons comfortable. In length it will be 45 feet, in breadth 25; and it will contain a chancel 13 feet by 9, and a small vestry. The walls will be of brick and cemented. Entrance to the building will be effected through a porch, which will be approached on either side of a flight of steps. Five windows on each side will light the building during the daytime, and gas in bracket and pendant lamps at night. The roof will be open timber work, and the seats and pulpit of varnished colonial pine, and sittings will also be provide for the choir. An iron railing will be placed in front of the building. In appearance the church will be rather plain, but it is likely to meet the requirements of the Lutheran body for some time to come, and it will certainly be an acquisition to the neighbourhood, much of which is  occupied with indifferent looking domiciles. Mr. B.Rhodes had undertaken the brickwork, and Mr John Stuart the finishing work.

It seems that the German residents of Sydney as far back as 1866, were encouraged by the sermons of several German clergymen to form themselves into a congregation. They accordingly placed themselves under the guidance of Mr. A J. Heide, a young theological student; but as he was obliged to leave Sydney in 1868, they found themselves once more without a spiritual leader, yet anxious to secure one. in the year 1873 they were fortunate enough to obtain the services of  the Rev. G. W. Warner, who previous to that period had been officiating in Ballarat. The rev gentleman fulfilled his duties with great ability and zeal, but unfortunately died after a prolonged illness in 1879, and a second time the the congregation had to encounter the difficulty of obtaining a pastor. During the pastorate of Mr. Warner that gentleman repeatedly urged them to build a church for themselves especially as he had to preach in a hired room in the Protestant Hall, and they acted upon his recommendations. The piece of ground in Goulburn-street they purchased for  £464m but although Divine service was continued every Sunday under the direction of Mr. J. A. Engel, the erection of the church was delayed for a considerable time. The building will now be proceeded with and probably finished within five months.

Amongst those present at the laying of the foundation-stone were Herr Pastor H. Herlitz, president of the Lutheran Synod of Victoria; the Rev. Dr. Ellis of the Anglican Church, the Rev. Dr. W. M. White of the Presbyterian Church, the Rev. G. Brown and Moore of the Wesleyan Church, Dr R. Kraue, Messrs. E. Knox, J. Walther, C.L. Sahl, J.A. Engel, Otto Meyer, C.F. Meuer, H. Sippel, A. Parrot, W.C. Bartels, Pluss, C. Busse, Dr. A.Libius and several ladies. The German Liedertafel also attended and sang with impressive effect “The Lord’s Own Day,” and “The Chapel” by Kreutzer, and ” A Strong Fort is our Belief” (ein feste Burg), by Luther. Some garlands of flowers were festooned about the building and scaffolding, and the British insignia was placed side by side with the Prussian eagle and the black, white and red striped German flag of Germany.

Previous to the commencement of the ceremony Pastor Herlitz delivered a short address in English. He expressed heartfelt thanks for the generous sympathy for the new church English persons exhibited in being present. The work seemed to commend itself to them, and they appeared to wish it to prosper. Some persons might ask why a Lutheran church should be erected in Sydney, where the Germans were only a handful, and where Protestant churches were numerous and beautiful. The congregations prayed to the same Saviour, and hoped to go to heaven the same way. Why not could they not worship together? Knowing the English as he did, knowing also how in every climate they loved their country, and that they do not forget its customs and the services of its churches, and knowing also that they planted their churches everywhere, he felt that they would scarcely ask such questions. He had been in Berlin, Munich, and other Continental cities, in which numbers of English people lived, and he was pleased to say that in each they formed congregations, built churches, and had sacred services in their mother tongue. The nation who did these things would scarcely inquire of Germans who were in a strange land why they wanted Lutheran churches, and opportunities for praising God in their own language. Knowing how the English esteemed the memory of Martin Luther, he was sure they would not regret having in their midst a church bearing the name of such a great and noble man. The pastor then delivered an address in German, during which he congratulated his countrymen on undertaking the erection of the church, and he expressed the hope that the Creator would bless their efforts. He read in conclusion a portion of the Scripture, after which Mrs. Krauel laid the stone.

The proceedings were marked with only the slightest formalities. Dr. Ellis said he would like to give the right hand of fellowship to the members of the church. He felt a pride in the manly, noble, deep character of the Teutonic race. A danger existed of religion becoming a matter of millinery and ceremonies, and he thought one place at least should be provided in which the religion should be a solid thing that one could grapple with without strangling it – a thing that would last to all eternity. The religion they derived from Dr. Matin Luther to his mind, was such a thing. The Revs. G. Brown, Dr. White, and Mr. Moore wished the undertaking God-speed, and also made reference in laudatory terms to the noble work which Luther had inaugurated and which preached religious liberty to all classes that those to accept it, while it released them from bigotry and intolerance. Pastor Herlitz, in the name of the congregation, thanked the reverend gentlemen for their expressions of sympathy, and after a good round sum had been offered in aid of the building fund, the proceedings terminated.

The Sydney Morning Herald 13. September 1883
“THE  DEUTSCHE Evangelische Kirche, in Goulburn-street, will be consecrated on SUNDAY MORNING, the 10th instant, at 11 o’clock. The Rev. H. HERLITZ, of the German Lutheran Church, Eastern Hill, Melbourne , will officiate.”

Comments(2)

  1. Antwort
    Peter Keeda says

    I am wondering from where the original furniture came, in particular the wood panelling under the organ loft and the pulpit, all with Stars of David. As the York Street Synagogue was demolished in 1878 a few years before the church was built I am wondering if perhaps these pieces were bought or gifted from the synagogue?

  2. Antwort
    Margaret Strickland says

    For some years I have been trying to discover whether the German side of my family came from a Lutheran or Catholic tradition. Now I know… here is my great-great-grandfather John Walther present at the laying of the foundation stone of the Martin Luther Church in 1882 in Sydney. This provides a full circle connection for me, as I have just spent 15 years teaching in Lutheran secondary schools in South Australia. Thank-you!

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