The Stimson Memorial Chapel is the home of the American Protestant Church (APC) in Bonn, Germany’s former capital city. It was the official chapel of the American Embassy starting in 1959 until 1999.
The Stimson Memorial Chapel does look quite a bit older than it actually is. The building was modeled after the 18th century churches in colonial New England.
Here’s a detailed look at the turbulent history of this special chapel courtesy of APC and why it’s dedicated to the memory of World War II superior, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson.
In 1956 the Stimson Chapel became the official chapel of the American Embassy. The chapel served not only the Protestant and Catholic worshippers from the families of the American Embassy, but also opened its doors to all English-speaking worshipers residing in the Bonn area. This included nationals from the foreign embassies or residing in the area, as well as an increasing number of German citizens. They were attracted to the American style of worship and church community life, which includes a strong youth program, community outreach and support of Christian missionary activities in many parts of the world. This multi-national participation has continued to the present.
Throughout the 50 years of its existence citizens of more than 40 nations have participated in the religious and community activities of Stimson Memorial Chapel.
In 1999, President William J. Clinton, while visiting Germany to attend an international G-8 Summit Meeting in Cologne, officially handed over the keys to the Stimson Memorial Chapel to Bonn Lord Mayor Bärbel Dieckmann. The U.S. government had decided to give the chapel to the city of Bonn as a gift and symbol of post-war German-American friendship. On July 1 of 1999, after 47 years in Bonn, the American Embassy officially moved to Berlin, now the capital of the re-united Germany.
Despite the American Embassy’s relocation, active members of the Protestant and Catholic congregations remained in the Bonn area and were anxious to continue worshipping in the chapel. The two congregations therefore formed a “Förderverein Stimson Memorial Chapel e.V.” (SMC) to foster continued use of the chapel after ownership was transferred to the city of Bonn. SMC is financially and organizationally in charge of the complete maintenance of the building.
Today, the building is used by five congregations: APC, a Korean and a Sri Lankan congregation, a Russian-Messianic congregation and a Spanish speaking congregation. The Catholic congregation, now part of the Archdiocese of Cologne, had to move out of the building in 2004 by order of the Archdiocese. The present religious programs of the congregations guarantee that the Stimson Memorial Chapel will continue for the foreseeable future to serve international worshippers from more than 30 nations through Sunday worship services, youth programs, music, bible study and other community activities.
An American Giant Redwood tree has been planted on the chapel grounds as a further symbol of American-German friendship. On August 14, 2000 the Historical Monument Office of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia officially registered the Stimson Memorial Chapel on the list of historical monuments of the City of Bonn.