Ask Hans Powell if he is a believer, and the immediate answer is a definite “no”.
However, he and other villagers in and around the German town of Styge began the difficult task of preserving a beautiful church by moving it from the middle of a forest to the center of town.
Pavalla, 74, a former electrician, said he was motivated by “the building’s unique architecture” and the “meaning it gives to the area” in the Horse Mountains.
The object in question is a stave or wooden church with dragon ornaments on the roof, built in the Nordic style in 1905.
It is one of only three churches in Germany to date and is listed as a monument of national importance.
Unlike most churches with prominent locations in the city center, this place of worship was built as a private sanctuary for recovering patients at a health center located in the forest.
But the health center was closed, and in 2009 the church was no longer in use.
Its isolated location makes it a target of destruction.
In 2013, a fire broke out in an old lung clinic a few meters from the church, damaging its structure.
“From the village we saw black smoke and we thought, ‘Ah, the church is going,’” said Regina Novolski, 69, a member of the Stiege Steve Church Association co-founded by Pavalla.
But when completed, the church was not damaged.
“Now something has to be done or the idea has emerged that the church is going to collapse one day,” said Regina Pierwich, a spokesperson for the association.
“The only way to save the church is to get it.”
While the idea is clear, it’s a lot easier than it looks.
The challenges were endless: getting permission to move the structure, finding a new home, and knowing how to do it.
At one point, the whole building was destroyed by a military helicopter.
Linked to all these questions is the million euro question of how to finance the project.
There is no doubt that the association’s members took the matter to the mayor, wrote a letter to federal security officials, and publicly appealed for fundraising.
“At first I saw it as a fun idea, but I quickly realized that they hadn’t given up and were there to see it,” Mayor Ronald Fibelkorn told AFP. from the Oberhorse region.
Inspired by waves of excitement, Fibelcorn introduced it to state and federal authorities, whose initial reaction was “are you crazy”.
But soon the authorities also regretted it.
With guaranteed support and funding, the $ 1.1 million ($ 1.3 million) plan to move the church is now in its final stages.
Land is protected at Stage City and is offered to the Association of Regional Officers for a code price of one euro.
The association bought a private church for one euro from the current owners in Berlin.
Innovation at the new site began in November, and as soon as the concrete foundation was laid, starting in March, the church would be taken from top to bottom, plank by plank.
“It’s like a Lego house,” Pierwich said, adding that the new five-kilometer (about three-mile) tree at its new site needs to be rebuilt and completed quickly by September.
Pierrevich clarified that there is already a community church on the scene and that its goal is to “not compete” for the faithful.
Instead, the association hopes that in its new home, the Stave Church will become an open space for community events, as well as a new attraction for visitors to the area.
Emphasizing that Germany’s largest Steve Church is located approximately 60 kilometers from the town of Horneckley and in the Horse Mountains region, Pierwich said: “It can become a tourist attraction and the churches are the highlight.
“Preserving what people could have done 100 years ago must be respected in this beautiful tourist region.”
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