The verdict of our tester:
A service that was well worth attending. The more than 500-year-old jakobus church has a charm all of its own. Although it shows its age, it does not look outdated or even in need of renovation. On the contrary, it has a pleasant freshness. The sermon was also pleasantly fresh, although it was rather long at almost 15 minutes. The way the pastor explained the importance of shepherds in the time of jesus and how the image of the good shepherd is to be interpreted today made it easy for the faithful to follow her words.
Less pleasing, however, are the many seats that remained empty in the rather small church. Many of the faithful seem to have a kind of regular seat on which they sit. This leads to many people sitting in a row even for themselves. Perhaps it would make more sense to open the galleries only when there are more visitors, so that the benches in the lower area are better filled.
What the age of the church also means, by the way, is that it is designed for people with a body size that was common in the early modern era. If you are taller than 1.90 meters, you should keep your head down when you step through the entrance door because of the two wooden galleries.
The evaluation in detail:
Some of the faithful must have been a little surprised: when the organ faded away, a rather unknown face in the congregation suddenly stood in front of the rows of pews. "Actually, I’m your guest, so I’d like to introduce myself briefly", ruth scheil said by way of introduction and explained that since the beginning of the year she has been substituting for pastors who are ill or on vacation.
Because the service took place on the so-called shepherd’s sunday, scheil announced that her sermon would be about jesus christ as a good shepherd who gave his life for the people.
The organ was used for all the songs. The music was neither too obtrusive nor too discreet, but apparently not all of the 40 or so people felt encouraged to join in the singing. But this could also have been due to the fact that they got a bit lost in the many seating areas. In addition to the "first floor" banks there are still two towers in fischbach, which were also used (see ambience).
3. Readings in a calm and powerful voice, a member of the congregation first read the epistle from the first letter of petrus (second chapter). In the gospel of john (tenth chapter) the suffering theme of this service came to the fore again: jesus as a good shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep.
Although the parishioner concluded the reading with the words "glory be to you, lord", the lighting has made the church a more comfortable place to be, the answer "praise be to you, christ" was given the congregation, however, gave a somewhat hesitant response after the pastor intoned the phrase.
Ruth scheil’s sermon was presumably also based on a manuscript – but this was not noticed. The pastor seemed to be in her element in the pulpit. Varied with the loudness, punctuated her words with gestures and spanned an arc from psalm23 (the lord is my shepherd) to examples from the everyday life of the faithful, which "wolves" opposing jesus in today’s world.
There was no communion in this sunday service.
After a member of the congregation informed the congregation about the amount of the last collection and other news from the life of the congregation, scheil gave the blessing in the classical way: "the lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." First it wishes from the altar a "blessed sunday", shortly afterwards also once again at the personal farewell at the exit.
Anyone who enters the church of st. James breathes in a wealth of history from the very first breath. The house of god was built more than 500 years ago. The church tower is somewhat younger, having been demolished and rebuilt in 1660. The sun rays that fall through the antique windows bathe the sanctuary in an atmospheric light.
The mint green wooden pew and the light brown wooden pores give the church a pleasantly out of time ambience. Apart from the opulent organ, a highlight is certainly the baroque altar, which originates from the workshop of the margravial court sculptor elias rantz.
Like the ceiling in the entrance area, the pews are designed for people of smaller stature. Painted green and upholstered with red cushions, they not only look good, but are also quite comfortable. It also seemed as if warm air was streaming out of the back of the pew at the beginning of the service. Very pleasant in view of the still somewhat cooler temperatures.
9. Lighting the church certainly has no problem with the illumination. Even if the sun has a weak day, the lamps are still bright enough to find the right page in the hymnal and to read the text without problems.
It is more difficult when the sun is too good for you. The high windows behind the pastor allowed so much backlight into the church that it was sometimes difficult to see the pulpit and one or the other eye had to be squinted.
If historical material is to be filmed, the district of kronach has become quite popular with filmmakers. Location scouts looking for a small church that almost has charisma were able to find one in fischbach. The church of st. James conveys a sense of peace and security with its brown wooden look and its clearly structured coarseness. But although a lot of dark wood is used, the house of worship makes a rather light impression. Because the service attended took place shortly after easter, it was still colorfully decorated with flowers and candles – which created a pleasant atmosphere.
Why a service test?
We want to use our service test to bring the churches a little more into the public eye. Among churchgoers, clergy and readers, a discussion should arise about what makes a good service. This meeting, which usually takes place on sundays, has a rough meaning for catholic and protestant christians until today. Should be a living expression of christianity. For an evaluation according to objective criteria, we have sought theological help from professors martin stuflesser (wurzburg), who is also an advisor to the german bishops’ conference, and martin nicol (erlangen), whose book "weg im geheimnis" ("path in mystery") is a good example makes a plea for the evangelical service. Objective criteria are supplemented by the subjective impressions gained by our colleagues.
You can find all the reports in our series on our overview page for the test of the service. There you will also find more detailed information.