English Information

Introduction

The Gossner Mission is an independent mission organization supported by numerous friends, circles of friends and congregations throughout Germany. In addition there are several regional churches, which assist the Gossner Mission both financially and with advice.  Since 2011, the Gossner Mission has been cooperating closely with the Berliner Missionswerk, with which it shares office space in the historic Mission House in Berlin-Friedrichshain.

Originally founded as an association under Old Prussian law, the Gossner Mission was transformed into a foundation on January 1, 2006. Changes in the law governing associations brought about this change in legal form. Goals and purposes are defined in the foundation's statutes.

Concrete partnerships and circles of supporters have emerged from the work overseas and the community and school work in Germany. Thus, from Wiesbaden to Westphalia, from Berlin to Stuttgart, from Lippe to East Frisia, there are partnership groups and circles of friends who receive ecumenical visitors, set out on encounter trips themselves, and regularly invite people to information and discussion evenings. Guests from the partner countries are also welcome in many congregations and church districts.

Close to people!

The Gossner Mission works with several partner organizations in India, Nepal, Zambia and Uganda. In cooperation with these organizations, it supports local schools, kindergartens and health stations; it supports sustainable agriculture and climate justice projects as well as initiatives for the advancement of children and women. It also initiates microcredit groups and income-generating activities.

The partnership with the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church in India (GELC), which grew out of the work of the Gossner missionaries is still alive and close to the heart of the Gossner Mission.  With around 350,000 members, the church is one of the largest Lutheran churches in India. More than 90 percent of its members are indigenous Indians: Adivasi.

In Nepal the Gossner Mission  took up membership with the United Mission to Nepal (UMN) in 1968 and is partnering with the UMN until today. Gossner Mission supports several projects mainly in the West of Nepal, in Mugu and Doti, but also a cross cutting program covering the aspects of climate change, gender justice and inclusion. Another partner in Nepal is the Human Development and Community Services (HDCS) which operates the community hospital in Chaurjahari in Westnepal.

It all begins with Johannes E. Goßner

Twelve missionaries are sent out to Australia in 1837 - the beginning of the Gossner Mission. Subsequently, other craftsmen and theologians take up their work on all continents. They are to proclaim the Good News, but also help the poor and marginalized and stand up for their rights.  

For Johannes Evangelista Goßner, mission and social-diaconal work belong immovably together (like two "twin sisters"). It is therefore natural for him to found the Elisabeth Hospital, the first Protestant hospital in Berlin, in 1836/37. Pastor Johannes E. Goßner is considered a co-founder of a holistic understanding of mission.

However, Johannes E. Goßner (1773 - 1858) did not originally plan to found a missionary organization But when in December 1836 six men came to him in Berlin with the request to be sent out, he gladly complied with this request. Similar to the missionaries of the Moravian Church, his missionaries were to work in an apostolic manner, i.e. to proclaim the Good News - and, like Paul, to earn their own living. The denomination plays no role for him.

Subsequently, Johannes E. Gossner sends missionaries all over the world; however, a continuous missionary work develops only in the northeast of India. The missionaries work there successfully from 1845 among the Adivasi (indigenous peoples). From the beginning, they do not limit themselves to preaching, but advocate for the rights and salvation of the Adivasi. This results in the hostility of the local feudal lords. Regardless of this, the missionaries soon train the first pastors among the Adivasi. Thus, an independent young church, the Gossner Church, soon develops in India.
Until the end of his life, Johannes E. Goßner directs the missionary work as well as the hospital in Berlin. He sends out about 140 missionary brothers and 60 missionary sisters all over the world. Among them are 16 trained theologians only.

Today, the Gossner Mission sees itself as a mission society that understands mission holistically and is open to new ways and projects. It continues to benefit from the memory of Johannes E. Goßner's amazing freedom from rigid principles and orders, his flexibility as well as his ecumenical attitude towards the realization of partnership cooperation.

 

 

Always on new paths

Difficulties develop within the mission society itself as criticism develops of the unorganized and interdenominational form of Johannes E. Gossner's mission. After Gossner's death, a board of trustees is set up in Berlin in 1858 to manage it. Later, the work develops a Lutheran character. But despite the approach to a "normal type of missionary work," the Gossner Mission always manages to avoid the bureaucratization and rigidity that the founder had so feared.
 In India, however, the beginning of the First World War leads to the expulsion of the German missionaries. Thus an independent Gossner Church is constituted there in 1919. This young Indian church is the first ever to be established on a modern mission field. However, since the separation from the "parent" in Germany is quite difficult, it is only after the end of the Second World War that one can speak of a real independence. Thus the Gossner Mission was one of the first German evangelical mission societies to voluntarily leave its previous field of work, because it recognized that its mission there had come to an end and completion.

Germany work as a special characteristic

After World War II, the Gossner Mission in Germany began to carry out missionary tasks on the ground in the tradition of the Confessing Church, initially with caravan work in the war-destroyed villages of the Oderbruch. This gives rise to the "Gossner Mission in the GDR" based in East Berlin, which establishes new forms of congregation, especially among workers and in new housing developments. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Gossner Center for Church Service in Industrial Society is founded in Mainz in 1950, in addition to the headquarters in West Berlin, which continues to exist.
The Berlin-West and Berlin-East offices are merged after German reunification in 1990; the Gossner work in Mainz later has been transferred to the Protestant Church of Hessen and Nassau.

Who was Johannes E. Goßner?

The Gossner Mission bears the name of its founder - an indication of the great significance that his thinking and faith have for history and the present day. In his time, Johannes Evangelista Goßner was widely known for his deep piety - but also for his stubbornness and consistency.

Johannes E. Goßner was born on December 14, 1773, in Hausen in Bavarian Swabia, the son of a devout Catholic couple. After studying philosophy, physics and theology, he was ordained priest in 1796. However, his close contacts with the revival movement soon led to tensions between him and the Catholic Church. This earned him suspicions and reenactments and even priestly prison in 1802.

After his rehabilitation,he was active in various parishes, where he focused on nursing and social services in addition to pastoral care and preaching. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 and the onset of the Restoration brought him renewed reprimands. In 1820 he received an appointment to the Catholic Maltese Church in St. Petersburg, but in 1824 Johannes E. Goßner had to leave Russia again. There follow "vagabond years" as a preacher and pastor. After a long struggle, he converted to the Protestant Church in 1826 and worked as a pastor in Berlin until his retirement in 1846.

Here he experienced first-hand the misery of the people in the suburbs. Goßner thus became one of the founders of diaconal work in Berlin. He founded "Kleinkinderbewahranstalten" (Kindergartens, nursery schools), worked as a prison pastor and visited the sick in neglected homes. The first nursing associations give rise to the Elisabeth Hospital, which he founded and which is the first Protestant hospital in the city.

Johannes Evangelista Goßner became known far beyond his immediate sphere of activity through his pastoral and missionary writing. He wrote edification writings, of which the "Herzbüchlein" and the "Schatzkästchen" were the best known. From 1834 he publishes the magazine "Die Biene auf dem Missionsfelde" (successor magazine "Gossner."), in which he publishes mission news from all over the world. However, he resigns from the committee of the Berlin Mission because he rejects the institutionalization of the mission (including salary for missionaries, construction of a large mission house and an administrative apparatus).

Having become aware of him through his writings, six young craftsmen come to him on December 12, 1836, to apply for missionary training: This is considered the founding of the Gossner Mission. Goßner sends these first missionaries to Australia "on his own initiative". Their six-month preparation consisted of familiarizing themselves with the Bible and hymnal as spiritual tools. This seems sufficient to Goßner. The missionaries are supposed to preach the gospel, they are supposed to take care of social issues, and they are supposed to earn their own living. Unlike the missionaries of other societies, they do not receive a salary. Goßner managed the hospital and mission until the end of his life. He sends out about 140 missionaries and 60 missionary sisters to all continents. Among them were 16 trained theologians.

Johannes E. Goßner died in Berlin on March 30, 1858. He is buried in the cemetery of the Bethlehem congregation, today part of the "Friedhöfe vor dem Halleschen Tor" in Berlin-Kreuzberg.