Many people pass the building located on Ost-West-Straße without knowing what it is. “We want to achieve that the building tells something to the people”, Reverend Matthew Jones said on the start of the 3-month renovation period that will give a face lift to the St. Thomas Becket church.
The neo-classical building was opened in 1838 and has served the worshippers from England and all over the world ever since, but is has been 25 years since the last renovation (the Anglican Church in Hamburg itself dates back to 1612). Reverend Jones was very happy to see the scaffold builders at work now, and he thanked all the persons and institutions that helped the the renovation come true so fast.
A generous offer by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung to match funds raised by the church during its 400th anniversary in 2012 made the project possible. A concert gifted by the British Honorary Consul in Hamburg, Claus-G. Budelmann MBE, at which Maestro Jeffrey Tate, Daniel Hope and Sebastian Knauer performed pro bono, was attended by 270 people and raised €60,000 towards the costs, and Mark Lyndon donated the revenues of his charity performance last autumn. Professional help and advise came from Dr Ursula Markfort, Office for the Preservation of Historic Buildings and Monuments, from Mr. Alk Friedrichsen, architect and curator,who is responsible for the realisation of the works, and from in-house expert and church leader Dr. Phil Zeni.
Dr. Sebastian Giesen of the Reemtsma Stiftung named two arguments that convinced the foundation to fund the renovation project: The uniqueness of the building together with the historical meaning it has for the Neustadt and Hamburg, and the dedication of the people within the church, people who care. The church congregation does not benefit from church taxes, but relies on their own funds – a fact stressed by Mr. Reemtsma.
A church that will be seen – this is Reverend Jones’s hope. Not only because of the history and long tradition in Hamburg, but because St. Thomas Becket is a lively, active church community, offering much needed service in English and living in very constructive, friendly and ecumenical way with neighbouring churches and religions. And therefore, additionally to the new paint, a large signage on the church front will say “Englische Kirche”, with the smaller subtitle “The Anglican Church of St. Thomas Becket” – telling to the people what this building is and who is using is for the worship services and the community.