By Hans Olson
The region of Central Europe comprising modern Germany was known as Germania as far back as A.D. 100. Charlemagne united much of western and central Europe in 800 as part of the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted until 1806. During the sixteenth century, monk and theologian Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Reformation in northern Germany and changed the course of Western Christianity.
Following World War I Germany suffered from economic depression and a series of unstable governments. On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag—Germany’s parliamentary building in Berlin—was set on fire. This event is seen by some as the catalyst that led to the rise of the Nazi party and brought Adolf Hitler to power in Germany. Six years later Germany attacked Poland, effectively launching World War II. After the war the administration of Germany was divided between France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Eventually the French, British, and American territories were united as West Germany. The Soviet sector became East Germany.
For much of the twentieth century Germany was at the crux of the battle for supremacy between Western and Eastern Europe. Berlin itself, located in the eastern half of Germany, was divided between the two sides.
After the dismantling of the Soviet Union during the late 1980s and early 1990s, large amounts of money were spent upgrading the East German infrastructure and creating a comprehensive social security system. Today Germany has one of the strongest economies in the world, and the German people enjoy a high standard of living and relative peace. The country is the second most populous country in Europe (after Russia) and is home to the third largest immigrant population in the world.
The Adventist Church has frontline Global Mission projects to reach this burgeoning immigrant population of non-German speakers. These projects in northern Germany reach the Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian communities. In recent years four new congregations have been established and continue to grow. However, overall growth of the Adventist Church is slow. In the past 10 years the church has grown by only 2 percent.
The reunification of West and East Germany led to a number of changes in the Adventist Church. While the South German Union remained mostly unchanged, the West and East German unions merged to form the North German Union. After this merger the necessity for two seminaries diminished, and in 1994 Marienhöhe Seminary closed its doors, making Friedensau Theological Graduate School (Theologische Hochschule Friedensau) the only Adventist theological training center in Germany.
Germany’s strong economy has enabled the Adventist Church to support humanitarian projects around the world. In 2006 ADRA/Germany sponsored nearly 100 projects through government grants and direct donations. These projects served some 2 million people, at a value of US$7.7 million.
To learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s work in Germany, please visitwww.AdventistMission.org.