If one believes the prayer of Azariah, king of Judah, then winter should honor God: “Frost and cold, drops and flakes, praise the Lord, praise and glorify him for ever!” It seems almost outrageous that people have always sought refuge in warm dwellings. This winter, however, this is proving to be quite expensive due to the rise in energy prices. The places of worship in the district are also plagued by it. How badly have you been hit by the prices? And how do you deal with it? Will churches and mosques, community and prayer rooms stay cold this winter?
“We feel the inflation in many ways,” says Christian Doerr. He is the head of administration for the Steinhöring Catholic Parish Association and for the parishes of St. Sebastian in Ebersberg and St. Josef in Kirchseeon. “At the same time, our savings potential is not particularly large.” As soon as the bill came, you would definitely feel the energy prices, says Doerr.
It is true that one is examining how countermeasures can be taken, for example through photovoltaic systems and reduction in consumption. “We keep adjusting the room temperature in the offices,” says Doerr. However, the churches have always been very cold, sometimes the holy water freezes there, the visitors come in thick winter clothes.
That’s why they don’t want to do without the bench heating, which keeps the faithful warm. In any case, their consumption is kept within limits. In the long term, also with a view to climate change, a PV system is also planned at the parish home in Ebersberg – the one in Kirchseeon already has one. The churches are left out because they are listed monuments, but PV systems are not a short-term solution.
Halil Demir, chairman of the Turkish-Islamic community in Markt Schwaben, which has set up a mosque there, reports that energy prices are having a significant impact. “Our members are already donating more because otherwise we won’t be able to make ends meet,” says Demir.
But even in the prayer and Koran teaching rooms of the Islamic community, it shouldn’t get cold this winter, so it’s better to accept a higher bill. The heating is currently turned down a bit because the temperatures still allow it. “But if it gets really cold, we have to heat up,” says Demir. Not least because the home of the imam, who has a child, is also in the mosque.
Edzard Everts, executive pastor of the evangelical parish of Ebersberg and Kirchseeon, speaks of a “precarious situation”. However – as with the Catholic counterparts – this is not so much due to the churches. “In the Heilig-Geist-Kirche we run a bank heater, the electricity costs are 800 to 1000 euros higher than usual this year.” That would not be a broken leg for the community.
The Everts are troubled by the exorbitant prices for the gas that is used to heat the two community halls. “We’re not sure yet whether the gas price brake will apply to the churches as a public corporation,” explains Everts. It is not easy to find a savings concept for the community centers, since too low a basic temperature goes hand in hand with high humidity and the risk of mould. Adjusting the temperature variably is also not practical due to the size of the premises. “There are no simple measures,” said Everts.
In the worst case, the heating bill for the community center in Ebersberg alone could increase from 2,500 to 12,000 euros. All in all, the community would then be faced with additional costs of 20,000 euros in 2022, which would actually no longer be manageable.
Accordingly, Everts is concerned: “My first impulse was: we close everything.” However, he then decided against closing the parish halls. “These are exactly the places where people are given – metaphorical – warmth.” Seniors, choirs and young people would have found an important place here to experience humanity. The community is therefore planning a call for donations under the motto “Donate heat” to keep the houses open.