Honoring the German Cultural Heritage at Lutheran Churches

By Lizbeth Johnson and Pastor Karin Liebster

Angel of Joy in Lufkin, Texas recently celebrated with their 8th Annual German Christmas service. Although Pastor Paul Geye gave his homily in English, the service was in German.

Pastor Paul GeyeThe intent was to honor the German heritage of the Lutheran Church. The service included the choir who sang, “Kommet ihr Hirten” and “O Tannenbaum”. The readings and prayers were read by Inge Geye, her sister Marianne, and three other German women.

Attendees came from across east Texas with a connection and love of German heritage.

Many stayed after the service to share their connections and enjoy refreshments. A tradition of the congregation, the Lufkin community has continued to enjoy the service, honoring the German heritage ties of the church’s neighbors.

When German Lutherans immigrated to America, they often settled in areas of Texas that allowed them to keep their traditions and ways of life, despite new soil and surroundings. Areas of Texas like Fredericksburg, Brenham, New Braunfels, and many other settlements have preserved their native country customs. The church was a significant part of their culture and way of life.

Pastor Paul was stationed in Germany while in the armed forces. He met his wife Inge, and she immigrated to the U.S. when they married. She of course, is fluent in German and is delighted to celebrate her heritage with others. “We are always delighted with the interest of the community in a German worship service,” Inge stated.

In central Houston, Christ the King celebrates the German heritage with services on Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve. Pastor Karin Liebster, who is German herself, indicates, “These special occasions make the worship service all the more unique celebrated in the German language.” Pastor Robert Moore will begin a three-year service this summer in Wittenburg, Germany, as an official representative of the ELCA for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The anniversary of the Reformation celebration is gaining momentum, even almost two years before its arrival. In fact, the planning of the “2017 Reformation Jubilee” has been under way for nearly a decade.