15 Things to find in a German Church

15 Things to find in a German Church

If you have ever been inside a German church, whether for a service or just to admire the building, you might have wondered what some of the things you see are called.

The last time I went back to Germany I attended a church service in the church I was confirmed many years ago and where my family is still very active. So, after the service I took some photos for you.

Die Kirche

Of course, all churches are different, but some of the things you can find inside a church are:

  • der Altar – altar
  • das Kreuz – cross
  • die Kerze – candle
  • die Kerzen – usually you find more than one candle
  • die Kanzel – pulpit
  • das Lesepult – lectern
  • die Bibel – bible
  • das Taufbecken – baptismal font
  • der Kelch/ Abendmahlskelch  – chalice, cup
  • der Klingelbeutel – collection bag
  • die Liedtafel/ Liedertafel/ Liedanzeige – hymn board
  • das Gesangbuch – hymnbook
  • die Gottesdienstordnung – order of service
  • die Kirchenbank – church pew
  • die Kirchenbänke – as there are more than one pew
  • die Orgel – organ

I didn’t manage to take pictures of the people who worked there:

  • der Pastor/ die Pastorin – vicar, also called der Pfarrer/ die Pfarrerin
  • der Organist/ die Organistin – organist
  • der Küster/ die Küsterin – verger
  • der Kirchenvorsteher/ die Kirchenvorsteherin – churchwarden

And the infographic is missing the bell tower – der Glockenturm –  so here it is:

Screenshot 2017-05-06 13.46.59

Obviously, depending on what type of church you visit, there will be more and different items, so if there is anything in particular you’d like to know what it’s called in German, let me know. I’ll do my best to find out for you.

Oh, and this particular church doesn’t have a website but it does have its own Facebook page – just in case you’d like to know more:
Ev.-luth. Christophorus-Kirchengemeinde Schüttorf

EDIT 2020, there is a website now: Lutherisch in Schüttorf

7 thoughts on “15 Things to find in a German Church”

  1. Also German vicars (of all the main churches) tend to wear ‘ der Talar’ -a gown or cassock. The congregation is known as ‘die Gemeinde’ which also means ‘parish’ or ‘municipality’ . So ‘ich gehe in keine Gemeinde’ means ‘I don’t go to church’ but ‘Ich bin auf der Gemeinde’ means ‘I’m at the local parish council offices’.
    The wafer is ‘die Oblate’ …which is also the word for the bottom wafer of a traditional Lebkuchen- you NEED to know these things!

    • Yes, I missed lots of things, but the Talar and Oblate belong to the service. You wouldn’t see them if you just went inside a church. I might write some more posts about communion and general church services in Germany. Although they differ from church to church.

  2. Also, of interest perhaps not just to catholics, stoners and New Agers; ” der Weihrauch”, lit ‘consecrating smoke’ or ‘incense’. That’s ‘Weih’ as in ‘Weihnacht’ ‘the consecrated night’ or ‘Xmas’.

    And in the deeper parts of Bavaria one still addresses Catholic priests as ‘your High Worthiness’ or ‘Hochwürden’.


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