It was a sad sight: in the center of the village of Teetz (Ostprignitz-Ruppin) there was a large church that fell into disrepair.
“The roof had been leaking for decades, the roof structure was damaged, the wall ledges were beginning to crumble, the windows were smashed and the clock in the high tower had stopped,” remembers Dieter Kliche, Wahl-Teetzer from Berlin. Whenever he and his wife Karla set off on their hikes through the region, he grumbled about the decay of the church. And his wife said, “Then do something about it.”
In November 1999, all Teetzers found an appeal in their mailboxes, written by Dieter Kliche. ‘Let us imagine for a moment Teetz without the church, without the great brick nave dividing the village green with its slender windows and high roof. Let’s imagine that the two bells are silent forever, let’s finally also imagine that we have to live in the middle of the village with a ruin, a heap of rubble or a cleared empty area. We want to leave the church in the village.”
The “Förderverein Dorfkirche Teetz” was founded, a first step on a long journey, and Kliche was elected chairman.
The completion of the comprehensive renovation of the church and the return of the precious and extensively renovated altar to the Virgin Mary will be celebrated with a festive service on Whit Monday. The service, which begins at 2 p.m., will be held by the Potsdam General Superintendent Kristóf Bálint.
Five years ago, the painter Johannes Heisig took over the chairmanship of the association from Dieter Kliche. “When the altar is back in his church on Whit Monday, it’s also a sign of the power of collective effort,” said Heisig, who was impressed by the association’s commitment and volunteer work when he moved to the village in 2015.
The sacred building, inaugurated in 1860, was built according to plans by the Kyritz district master builder Wedeke and the royal master builder and court architect Friedrich August Stüler (1800-1865). Together with the evangelical church community, the association was able, with the help of donations and subsidies, to gradually save the building, which was already closed by the building authorities at the time.
The association had up to 50 members, and applications for funding were often only approved if sufficient funds were provided. Donations had to be acquired and grants procured. Time and time again, craftsmen from the region helped, for example to restore the large brass chandeliers in the church – free of charge.
In October 2010 – on the 150th anniversary of the church – the organ returned to its original place.
When the congregation gave up building the church, the remains of the Lütkemüller organ were sold to the Stadtmuseum Berlin and reconstructed and placed in the Nikolaikirche as a concert instrument. A new museological concept made the organ there superfluous after a few years and so it returned to Teetz as a permanent loan.
Most recently, in 2021, the interior was renovated by the Potsdam restorer Klaus Ricken, and in March the church received back its carved altar, which was made around 1520, after decades. The late Gothic work of art was extensively restored by the Berlin restorer Daniela Baumberg in her workshop.
The restoration was made possible by the generous private donation of a patron, who was mediated by the State Monuments Office at the suggestion of the former Brandenburg Prime Minister Manfred Stolpe (SPD), who died in 2019.
Decades ago, the winged altar had been removed from the church, which was in need of renovation. For many years it stood in the church in Königsberg and later in the chapel in Teetz’ neighboring town of Ganz, where it suffered from poor climatic conditions and damp.
“In 2015, having just moved to Teetz, my wife and I saw the precious baroque carved altar for the first time, which once adorned the village church and had been moved for conservation reasons,” recalls Johannes Heisig: “The first thing that struck us was its splendor , the second the frightening heaps of wood flour, which gave news of the worm infestation. Something had to be done quickly.”
Worship services, concerts and other events take place in the church today. The altar and the organ by the master organ builder Friedrich Hermann Lütkemüller (1815-1897) are considered to be their most valuable pieces of equipment. On the occasion of the renovation of the village church and the restoration of the altar, there will be a specially published edition of postcards and a brochure.