In Nuremberg, the Protestant Vesper Church has opened its doors again for a culinary get-together. In the service hall there is food, drinks, coffee and cake as well as the opportunity to get your hair back in order.
Inhalt / Content
Coffee, cake, fish fillet
In the Lichtenhof district of Nuremberg, the local Vesperkirche has now opened its doors to culinary delights for the ninth time. Between January 4th and February 18th, 2024, the church interior does not contain the usual benches for the congregation gathered for worship, but rather the usual facilities for restaurants (Source). During this time, visitors to this church can, in addition to the service, eat and drink, have conversations and listen to the music performed. Opportunity for people from “different realities” to come together at a shared table with coffee and cake.
Church opens its “living room”
The basic idea for this campaign within the church is to offer the church space in the cold season. According to their own words, the community is opening up the most important room, the “living room”, for this purpose. Warm drinks and warm meals are available for 1 euro. A wide range of around 200 offers is available to visitors. This includes a hairdresser and training sessions for a successful application. The motto for this event within a Protestant church in 2024 is: “Friends, Peace, Fish Fillet” (in 2019: “Singing, Praying, Apple Strudel”).
In 2022, this event only ran in restricted mode due to the “Corona environment”. There was a facility for getting a vaccination “quickly and easily,” “regardless of whether it was the first, second, third or booster vaccination,” according to the Evangelical Church of Bavaria (Source). The previous year was accompanied by cancellations and start postponements due to the politically imposed lockdowns.
Socially not without self-interest
The focus is on the “social streak” and the sense of responsibility shown by this church for the common good. If it weren’t for the almost 200 additional offers for interested parties. This is more reminiscent of an “experience fair” than of a Christian church. This support campaign is therefore not entirely altruistic, as the co-creator of this campaign, Pastor Matthias Halbig, explained in an interview with “epd”. (Source). He does not believe that vesper churches provide the answer to a “creeping or galloping de-churchification.” It is not to be expected that anyone will join the church because of this. But the Vesper Church is a model that prevents many people from leaving the church.
House of worship is not a problem here
The pastor sees no conflict with the character of the church in this model, even if there are people who reject the serving of food, consultations and coffee klatches in places of worship. According to Halbig, the Vesper Church is reminiscent of the “original ritual of the Christian faith, the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples”. What happens here is sacred, a place of encounter. This is exactly what the church should be, according to the priest.
The Lord’s Supper that the priest speaks of, however, was not a cozy get-together in a happy atmosphere with coffee and cake, but rather a breaking of bread and drinking wine as symbols of commemoration of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. To create something spiritually “sacred” (consecrated, sanctified) from this organized café scene requires a good deal of imagination.
Something like this already existed
Such a meeting place, at least according to the perception, with a bazaar character, took place a good 2,000 years ago in the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus Christ visited there several times. On two such occasions, He had an answer ready for the circumstances presented. The first time, John 2:14-16:
“And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.“
And also at the second visit to the temple, Matthew 21:12-13:
“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.“
In view of the already obvious distance from the gospel of these church institutions, the “social streak” certainly predominates. People in need have the opportunity to get cheap food for 6 weeks, and homeless people can warm up a bit. Afterwards the gates close and it goes back to “everyday life”. The real purpose of a church for worship according to the gospel, or at least that is the claim made to glorify God, is not fulfilled by offering hair styling, job interview training and “friends, peace, fish fillets”. The Protestant church is finished anyway (Info).
Scenes from the Vesperkirche event
In the opening video you can also hear this ominous “formula” that the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) already suggested for baptism: “In the name of God, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit “. This saying corresponds to the Catholic variant of an “Urbi et Orbi” and not only deviates from the specification of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19), but also implies a “God” that is superior to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Whoever this may be. However, the “original” is:
“name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost“
Bible verses from King James Version