Who We Are
The English Church Heidelberg is part of the Church of England . We are international and come from many different backgrounds. We use the Common Worship liturgy of the Church of England but also integrate elements from other traditions in our worship. Our Ministry Team – Chaplain, Reader and Lay Assistants – plan and conduct services. Most Sundays we celebrate Holy Communion. On the occasional Sunday when we cannot offer Holy Communion a Morning Prayer or Family Worship Service is offered.
Within the Church of England we are part of the Diocese in Europe . Our Diocesan Bishop (since 2014) is The Right Revd Dr Robert Innes, who is based in Brussels. He is assisted by the Right Reverend David Hamid, our suffragan Bishop. The elected Diocesan Synod, the main decision-making body of the diocese, meets annually. The next level in the structure of the diocese is the Archdeaconry. Ours is made up of the Germany and Northern Europe. Our Archdeacon is The Venerable Dr Leslie Nathaniel.
Most of our contacts and exchanges with other Anglican churches take place at the level of the Deanery of Germany and at the Council of Anglican Episcopal Churches in Germany (CAECG). The latter body brings together on a regular basis the Church of England churches in Germany and those of the Episcopal Church of the USA (TEC). The CAECG Developing Christian Ministry programme offers events and workshops for exploring faith and gaining new competencies.
As well as being Anglican, we are ecumenically aware and active. Our members come from many different church backgrounds, and our contacts with other churches follow naturally. The Church of England is in full communion (mutual recognition of each other’s ministry and sacraments) with the Old Catholic Church in Germany. In Heidelberg we share the church building and hold occasional services together in both English and German.
We are active in the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen (ACK): An ecumenical council of delegates from various Churches in Heidelberg with the goal of maintaining contacts among local churches through special services, workshops, retreats and other ecumenical activities.
At the English Church Heidelberg we strive to:
- offer a spiritual home to all who would like to worship in English
- enable committed Christians to grow in faith and develop new ministries, and enable seekers to find God and explore the faith
- offer a warm, safe and inclusive welcome to all who come
- offer support to residents and visitors alike on the journey of life and faith
- make the Anglican tradition visible among the local churches
- contribute, together with the other Christian churches in Heidelberg, to proclaiming and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this city and region
Among the first Anglican residents in Heidelberg was Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of King James I of England and VI of Scotland. Elizabeth married the German Elector Friedrich V on Valentine’s Day 1613 and took up residence in Heidelberg castle. Her chaplain Revd Dr Alexander Chapman conducted Anglican services in the castle chapel, and in 1619 the poet and priest John Donne preached there while on a diplomatic mission to Germany. In the nineteenth century large numbers of people from the British Isles came to Heidelberg as short- or long-term residents: teachers and soldiers, artists and businessmen. They wanted a church of their own in the city and negotiated with the municipal authorities for use of the church building. A chaplaincy was established in 1835, and from 1844 to 1914 the congregation met in the former Dominican Convent chapel, now the Erlöserkirche on Plöck, where we still worship today.
The church was closed down at the time of the First World War in 1914, then handed over to the Old Catholics (see Church Relationships ) in 1936. In 1971 a trio of Englishwomen living in Heidelberg with their families requested the use of the building for a new English-speaking congregation once a month – and so The English Church Heidelberg was awakened to new life at Easter 1971. The church celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021.