Motorway churches should offer a place of rest away from busy lanes and dangerous situations. Who actually comes here and what makes a church a motorway church?
Landsberg (dpa/sa) - They are not far from the motorways and should offer space for deceleration and reflection along the main travel routes: motorway churches. According to the vrk Academy, there are over 40 of them in Germany. Around a million travelers visited one of the churches every year. On Sunday, the eight motorway churches of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany (EKM) also take part in the nationwide Day of Motorway Churches. Several church services and joint prayers are planned.
Since 2003, the town and monastery church in Brehna (Anhalt-Bitterfeld district) has also been allowed to call itself a motorway church. What makes a church a highway church? It must be accessible at certain minimum opening times, explains Brehna's church board member Bernd Löchel. In addition, a prayer room is a prerequisite - as are sanitary facilities. In addition, the church should not be more than 1,000 meters as the crow flies from the nearest motorway exit, Löchel explains.
Löchel says it's impossible to say exactly how many visitors come each year. But during the pandemic, many community trips were canceled. These would have usually made a stop at the highway church to hold a prayer there. You can slowly feel that these groups of visitors in particular are returning after a long absence. Otherwise, the composition of the visitors is difficult to outline. According to the church council, truck drivers are relatively rare in Brehna because they often have to follow a tight schedule.
Some visitors - as one reads in the prayer book - would go to the church to give thanks to God after narrowly escaping an accident or a dangerous situation on the freeway. The issue of unemployment is also a concern for many with a view to the book of concerns.
As early as the Middle Ages, hikers, pilgrims and travelers were offered devotional opportunities in the form of chapels and crosses along the way, the vrk Academy explains on its website. They served as places of protective prayer and reflection. The motorway churches represent the same thing today. They invite you to come to rest, to recover and are a counterpoint to the restlessness of life.