A Brief Introduction to the Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Gaimersheim
Gaimersheim is a large village in Southern Germany, approximately 10 kilometres north of the river Danube, close to the city of Ingolstadt. The Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Gaimersheim came into existence on 1 January 1993 when it was inaugurated by an act of church and government as a corporate public body. The parish covers an area of around 98 square kilometres and consists of four rural communities, as well as parts of two further ones northwest of the town of Ingolstadt, where the Audi car factory is based.
The church currently has about 2.750 members, many of whom are employed by Audi and its suppliers. Lutherans represent a minority of 10% in the area and are often immigrants or children of immigrant families from all over Germany and Eastern Europe, even from the former Soviet Union. Two thirds of the population are Roman Catholic. An increasing number of inhabitants has revoked church membership and there are also more and more Muslim families of Turkish origin.
Our church is the Church of Peace on Kraiberg Hill in Gaimersheim, situated in a quiet residential area approximately 2 km from the village centre. The church was built in 1957 and expanded in 1998/1999 and now provides seats for roughly 350 worshippers. The original church building was altered to serve as a congregational hall, containing office facilities and rooms for choirs and other congregational groups. By the end of 2012 the congregational hall had again been expanded to provide an adequate pastor’s office and archive room as well as a larger hall.
We celebrate Sunday Services from 10 a.m. onwards. There are also monthly services at Buxheim where we are guests of the local Roman Catholic Parish, and at St. Elizabeth’s Seniors’ Residence, Gaimersheim. We are deeply interested in ecumenical cooperation, especially with the Roman Catholic church, and run a couple of united services throughout the year. Confirmation lessons are partly taught by a volunteer lay team and partly by the pastors.
Music is very important for us. We have a mixed adults’ choir, a men’s choir and a pop and gospel singing group. There is also a children’s choir made up of two age groups. Other regular congregational activities include the Sunday school, women’s group, family group, youth groups, mothers’ and toddlers’ group and seniors’ meeting. Once a year, a team of volunteers runs a Christian faith seminar “Steps of Life” over four evenings, which is attended by approximately 20 people. A monthly congregational bulletin is prepared by a team of editors and distributed throughout the parish by volunteers.
Our website www.friedenskirche-gaimersheim.de is maintained by a freelance webmaster. Other congregational projects are children’s preparations for Christmas and Easter, children’s Bible days in Gaimersheim and Buxheim (the latter is a Catholic – Lutheran project), selling Christian literature and other Christian media, celebrating the World Day of Prayer and collecting plastic caps for charitable purposes.
Almost 150 volunteers support our congregational activities together with full – time and part – time employees i.e. the ministers, office secretary, church warden, youth leader and organists. In general, 25-30 children are baptized every year, about 30 youngsters confirmed and some 15-20 members given their last resting place.
For the last few years we have been establishing a partnership with the Tanzanian congregation of Kilakala, which is situated in the city of Morogoro about 200 km west of Daressalam, the former capital of Tanzania. In 2016 a delegation from Gaimersheim went to Kilakala and in 2017 some of the parishoners came to pay us a visit.
In August/September 2019, 15 members of our congregation visited the congregation in Kilakala, during which time the opening ceremony of their new church took place. A planned visit by young people from the partner community had to be postponed because of corona, the then targeted date in summer 2022 was postponed to spring 2023 due to visa problems. In April 2023, the meeting of the young people from Tanzania with our youth and young adults could finally take place. And it was a meeting full of emotions, of change of point of views, of friendship and new perspectives.
Our church is led by the Rev. Ulrich Eckert, who has served our congregation since 1 July 2014, together with ten lay church elders. Rev. Eckert is the chairman of the Elders´ Council and Mr. Dieter Friedrich the deputy chairman. Rev. Stefan Köglmeier is also member of the Council.