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Namibia


Rhenish Mission Church

Walvis Bay | Namibia

Most of the early missionary buildings were constructed using mainly local materials. But the Rhenish Mission Church in Walvis Bay was assembled using prefabricated wood from Hamburg, Germany and brought to Walvis Bay by ship. It was erected in 1880 and was one of the few buildings in the country entirely made out of imported timber. The harbour area was chosen as the location in what residents in Walvis Bay would know today as 7th Street. The first church service was held in 1881 and 10 years later the original building underwent structural enlargements, exactly to its present size.

By 1918, Walvis Bay Harbour was running out of prime development space. The church was completely dismantled and moved to its present site of Fifth Road. An important decision was made immediately to preserve the church for the future - to plaster the outside walls with cement to prevent the wood from rotting.

The Rhenish Mission Church in Walvis Bay remained in use until the final service on 16th January 1966. Congregations had enjoyed worshipping in the church for 85 years. A new mission church had been built in Kuisebmond, at the time a township of Walvis Bay. It wasn't long before this old building, steeped in history, was taken over by vagrants and in the eyes of the Walvis Bay Municipality, it was declared an eyesore to the general public. Demolition loomed until the Walvis Bay Lions Club stepped in.

In true charitable fashion, the Lions Club raised sufficient funds to restore the Rhenish Mission Church to its former glory. They purchased the site from the Rhenish Mission, employed the services of a qualified builder and the restoration began. A brick and timber fence was erected around the beautifully renovated building, complimented with a lawn and shrubs planted in the garden. Thanks to their protection and efforts the church can still be visited by locals and those on holiday in Namibia.

As it was the oldest building still standing in Walvis Bay, the Rhenish Mission Church was proclaimed a national monument on the 24th November 1972.

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