St George's History
A Very Short History of St George's Berlin
The first Anglican Church in Berlin,
was an English Chapel in the hall
of the North Gatehouse of Monbijou Palace
(destroyed during WW2), opened on Whit Sunday 1855.
In 1855 the Princess Royal,
the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria
the German Crown Prince.
She worshipped in the English Chapel
until 1885 when,
as a Silver Wedding gift,
St George's was presented to her.
The original location was at Oranienburger Strasse.
Services were held there from its
consecration on 21 November 1885 until 1939,
with a brief interlude during the WW1.
In May 1944 it was severely damaged during a bombing raid.
After the war from 15 July 1945 services were held at various places.
It was from this time that St George's came under the responsibility
of the Military Chaplain General.
The foundation stone for the present St George's Church
was laid on 3 May 1950.
It was dedicated by the Rt. Reverend George Ingle,
Bishop of Fulham, on 9 December 1950.
On 20 December 1953 the then Governing Mayor of Berlin,
Dr. Walther Schreiber,
handed over to the Bishop of Fulham,
representing the Bishop of London,
a contract granting the British Community in Berlin
the use of St George's Church
for a period of 100 years.
On 14 August 1994, St George's Anglican Church returned
to the the Church of England's Diocese in Europe.
The Revd John Turner became the first 'non-military' priest since 1945.
He arrived at the beginning of August
and his inauguration was also on 14 August 1994.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989)
and since reunification of both German states (1990)
the civilian congregation has been ever increasing
and members of the congregation are not resticted to British subjectes,
but the church welcomes followers
of the Anglican (or Episcopalian) faith,
or indeed any other Christian worshipper,
regardless of their nationality.
After the sudden death of John Turner on 27 December 1996,
Christopher Jage-Bowler became his successor.
The members of the congregation are roughly equal numbers
of British, North American and German natives,
other Europeans and smaller numbers of people
from African and Asian countries and the rest of the world.
St George's clergy after becoming a "civilian church"
(from left to right):
The Revd Canon Christopher Jage-Bowler, pastor since 1997,
The Revd Joachim Reich, assistant pastor since 2019,
The Revd Dr Martin George, deacon, since 2020,
The Revd Irene von Treskow-Ahrens, assistant pastor from 2000 - 2019 (+ 11.05.2019),
The Revd John Turner, pastor from 1994 - 1996 (+ 27.12.1996).
An International and Transcultural Saint
Numerous rich legends surround the figure of Saint George, such as the one in which he rescued a girl from a dragon. This legend dates back to the time of the Crusades and is set in the city of Selem in Libya, which was tormented by a terrible dragon.
To appease him, the inhabitants sacrificed lambs to him daily, and when there were none left, their sons and daughters. One day, the lot struck the king's daughter, who can be considered the embodiment of the church.
The girl went to the lake where the dragon dwelt,
but George beat her to it and pierced the emerging monster with his lance.
His act became a symbol of faith triumphing over evil.
George - the name means "farmer" in Greek - was born around 280 into a Christian family in Cappadocia, which is in what is now Turkey. He moves to Palestine and becomes part of the army of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. In 303, when Diocletian issued a great edict persecuting Christians, George gave his possessions to the poor, tore up the document before the emperor's eyes and confessed his faith in Christ. Diocletian then had him tortured and beheaded. A little later, a basilica was built at the burial site in Lidda, today a town near Tel Aviv, and its remains survive to this day. Among the oldest texts confirming the existence of St George is a Greek inscription from the year 368 from Bethany, which speaks of a "church or home of the holy and triumphant martyrs George and companions".
The Crusades did much to transform the figure of George into a "holy" warrior.
England's Richard the Lionheart invoked George as the patron saint of all fighters. Over time, the cult of St George became firmly rooted in England, and King Edward III founded the Order of the Knights of St George in 1348. He is the patron saint of England, but also of Albania, Ethiopia, Georgia, Catalonia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Russia, Sicily, Tyrol ...as well as many cities, like Freiburg im Breisgau, Ferrara, Ljubiliana, Rio de Janeiro...
Throughout the Middle Ages, George became the focus of a rich epic literature
that rivalled the Breton and Carolingian sagas.
George is the patron saint of knights and soldiers, scouts, fencers and archers.
He is also invoked against plague and leprosy as well as against poisonous snakes.
Muslims also venerate St George; they regard him as a "prophet".
Relics of the saint are found in several places. The head is venerated in the church of San Giorgio al Velabro in Rome, but the skullcap is in the monastery of St George on the island of Reichenau in Lake Constance..
George is a saint whose trace is lost in legend. His historical function is to remind the world of a single but important idea: in the end, good triumphs over evil. The struggle against evil is a dimension that is always present in human history, but this struggle is not won alone: George slays the dragon because God acts in him.
With Christ, sin, evil, destruction and dead will never again have the last word.