Sand am main: church renovation leads to discussions with the diocese – believers must relocate

Sand am main: church renovation leads to discussions with the diocese - believers must relocate

Where before there was one painting after another, now there are only dreary patches of white left behind. This is what the walls of the sander church looked like 40 years ago. Since the beginning of the second week of january, the parish church of saint nicholas has been under continuous renovation. Even if you can’t see it from the outside, a project worth millions has begun inside the building.

The church was last renovated in 1980, says pastor michael erhart as he walks down the central aisle toward the two incrusted side altars. Nave and roof tiles have already lasted 90 years. "But the construction work has only just begun", says erhart. "No miracles can have happened yet."

Church heating has had its day

No mold or water damage – yet renovation is urgently needed. Two bare spots above the organ make the masonry shine out as if to prove it. Especially the heating system must be replaced, says pastor erhart. "Every year it’s exciting to see if she’ll even start again."

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In the course of the renovation, the sanctuary is to be closed off by a wall and a chapel is to be installed behind it. The altar and high altar will move forward a bit. Architect gerhard herlein from zeil already has church experience, the new arrangement of the altars will be done by the company rosch from scheblitz. Karin berner and harald bauer clamber limberly from the narrow church benches onto a ladder to dismantle st. Sebastian from its pedestal unharmed. The high altar could hold a surprise in store: the workers will only find out how many parts it consists of when it is dismantled, explains the boss erwin rosch.

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A new lighting concept is also to illuminate the interior of the building in color. Ideal for a female church like the one in sand, says pastor michael erhart. The light was not shown to its best advantage when the ceilings were painted in the dark. The old organ is replaced by an electronic one. "We turn the church upside down, but renovate it for the next 50 years." As early as 2004, the first renovation plans were drawn up, but implementation was delayed time and again. There have been several personnel changes in sand since then. "And with every new pastor everything starts all over again", female erhart.

Move to the sander parish hall

Services are now held in the parish hall. On the feast of the epiphany, the tabernacle was carried into the parish hall in a solemn ceremony. Chairs were moved, a red carpet laid out and a print of the sanctuary hung up. The life-size image makes churchgoers feel as if they are actually sitting in the pew.

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But while about 500 people can be seated there, there are only 180 seats available here. "The move was a good opportunity to "sort out" the sacristy, admits erhart. But as long as the parish hall serves as an alternative to the church, other events have to give way. The seniors’ meeting moves to a guest venue and the sander theater performance is cancelled. "But maybe this year will do us good", says erhart. The limited space could literally bring the congregation closer together.

Volunteer helpers wanted for church renovation

But without help the renovation will not be possible. On the coming saturdays, pastor michael erhart is inviting people to get to work: volunteers can bring their own tools and help dismantle benches, clear out the sacristy or remove floor tiles. An appeal that has already met with a great deal of approval in sand, as church caretaker edeltraud schnapp revealed. "The lists were full in no time."

In general, great importance is attached to good cooperation between the church administration and the parish council, and upcoming work assignments are discussed in the joint whatsapp group. "Compared to other parishes, sand has a special position", says schnapp about cohesion. The church renovation has priority, even if other events have to be cancelled during this time. The theater group replaced its meetings with a get-together, says the church administrator. "We would otherwise miss each other too much."

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The sanders want to celebrate the easter vigil in zeil, the first communion will take place in ziegelanger. Pastor erhart’s hope for the end of the year: "we pray that we can celebrate christmas in the church again."

Renovation of the interior of the parish church in sand am main will cost 1.4 million euros.

In 2017, the outer facade of the building was renovated.

Volunteers wanted for renovation of the church

Participatory action on the coming saturdays, hobby craftsmen are invited to lend a hand in the renovation of the parish church. On 19. January, the benches were dismantled, on 26. Heaters and wooden platforms were dismantled and on 2. February the floor slabs were removed. Volunteers are asked to bring their own tools – such as crowbars, chain saws, cordless screwdrivers or shovels – for this purpose.

More information about the action: the sanders are tackling the renovation of their parish church

Church renovation prompted discussion with wurzburg diocese

The renovation of the parish church had to be agreed in advance with the building authority and the art commission of the wurzburg diocese. However, the opinion of the sander church administration was decisive, explains michael erhart. "We are, after all, the ones who celebrate services in the church." The reconstruction has certainly triggered discussions, since it is a massive intervention in the architecture of the building.

The renovation also has a pastoral aspect. "We need an adequate space for smaller groups, for example for rosaries", explains erhart. In addition, the heating of the entire church room in such cases would not make sense from an energy point of view. The idea of a light installation, on the other hand, was positively received by the diocese. "This should also touch other senses during the service", explains pastor erhart.

Against the separation of the church choir

"The diocese and the church administration each had certain wishes for the renovation", says norbert lehnert from the art department of the wurzburg diocese, who is responsible for the district of habberge as an area consultant. "We finally met in the middle. But the diocese had to make more concessions." They were fundamentally against the separation of the choir – for architectural and liturgical reasons. "Because the high altar is then on the same level as the two side altars", explains norbert lehnert.

The suggestion of the diocese to install the devotional chapel in the rear part of the building was rejected by the parish because the area below the gallery was too dark. In general, the reconstruction of the sander church has a unique position, even outside the district. "But the people of sander have already made a major contribution of their own", female lehnert appreciates the participation campaign. "This is what binds a congregation together."

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