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The Architecture and Design of the Luther Church in Berlin-Schoeneberg


The Luther Church was designed by Johannes Otzen, an art professor who was also the President of the Academy of the Arts in Prussia , and constructed between 1891 and 1894 under his guidance.Otzen was also the responsible architect for the famous Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche in Berlin-Kreuzberg. On May 5th, 1894 the church was consecrated during the presence of the German Empress Auguste Viktoria, the so-called 'Church Juste'. Also in May 1894 
an article on the church was published in the ''Deutsche Bauzeitung'.
The responsibility for the sponsoring and the role as contractor was taken by the 'Evangelisch-Kirchlicher Hilfsverein' and the "mother congregation" at that time, the 'Zwoelf-Apostel-Gemeinde'. The 'Evangelisch-Kirchlicher Hilfsverein' was founded in 1888 under the leadership of the German Emporer Wilhelm II and his wife Empress Auguste. In the period of 13 years between 1889 and 1901 more than 50 church buildings had been constructed under their management alone in Berlin .
The fast growing cities like Berlin with a steady increase of migrants from Germany 's different regions needed at that time big church buildings. The congregation of the 'Zwölf-Apostel-Kirche' counted once around 40.000 people, but inside their church were only around 1.000 seats. The urgent need for new space brought the church council members to the decision to construct a second church.
The richly decorated Luther Church building was constructed on the basis of a centralized ground plan in Neo-Gothic style.
The spacy nave has three vaults in north-south direction with star-ribs.
It seats around 500 people.
The interior receives additional centrality through the arrangement of the seating in the cross arms of the transcept.
The preaching takes place today in the crossing under the crossing vault and its cupola. The two original inward bending galleries at the end of the transcept as well as the gallery for the organ were destroyed in the bombing of the Second World War.Plans are in place for reconstruction.

Outside on the southern facade above the front doors the main part of the outer pictorial program of the Luther-Kirche has been amazingly preserved. 
There is a cross in Greek form with equally long cross arms and the letters Alpha and Omega, a beautiful statue of Dr. Martin Luther and two reliefs with the topics 'Luther at the Reichstag in Worms' and 'Elector Joachim II introducing the Reformation in Brandenburg' in 1539. 
The interior is dominated by the glass windows of the Berlin-Schoeneberger Artist Alfred Kothe. 

On a sunny day they give a wonderful impression of his view of God's presence in our church and in our lifes.
Dr. Falk Reitz (March 2006)

The beginnings of our church date back to about 1865, when American families met in private homes to worship. In the years after the founding of the Kaiserreich (1871), the church experienced rapid growth. In 1903 it was able to dedicate its own near Nollendorfplatz. The church was a lively center of religious and civic life until the outbreak of World War I, when it was closed in 1916. Reopened in 1921 and in spite of very unsteady times, the congregation resumed a prominent role in the American community. The church was closed again with Germany’s declaration of war on America in 1941, and the building was destroyed during bombing raids in 1944. With the help of the American and Foreign Christian Union, the congregation continued from 1945 by sharing facilities with various congregations in Berlin-Zehlendorf and from 1964 was housed in the Alte Dorfkirche of the Paulus Gemeinde. The congregation developed into an international community and kept growing even after the Berlin Wall fell and the American military left Berlin. In the Fall of 2002 the American Church in Berlin returned to Schöneberg to a new church home - the historic Luther- Kirche on Dennewitzplatz. The congregation is once again near to its original location in the heart of the city. To be a community reflecting the light of Jesus Christ is both exciting and challenging. We are committed to being an ecumenical home for people from diverse nations sharing God’s love in Jesus Christ.

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