Evangelical parish church Bad Goisern



The Evangelical Parish Church Bad Goisern is located in the center of the market town of Bad Goisern on Lake Hallstatt in the Gmunden district. The current sacred building dates from 1813 to 1816 and replaced the Tolerance Church from 1782. The church is a parish church of the Evangelical Church in Austria and belongs to the Evangelical Superintendent of Upper Austria. The Protestant church in Bad Goisern is, together with the Protestant rectory, a listed building.



In 1782 the evangelical Christians of Bad Goisern were allowed to build a tolerance prayer house made of wood. A stone church was built between 1813 and 1816. Due to an official order at the time, the building was not allowed to be recognizable as a sacred building from the outside. Sacred decorations and a tower were therefore prohibited. Nevertheless - contrary to the express prohibition - the windows and doors were decorated with round arches even then, creating at least some of the church architecture. The construction of a church tower was only possible in 1857, the consecration of bells took place in December 1858.

The evangelical church of Bad Goisern is designed as a simple, spacious hall church for 1000 church visitors. Due to the building regulations at the time, the apse cannot be seen from the outside. The altar is decorated with an image of Christ. The pulpit and baptismal font are near the altar. The organ has its place on the gallery, but not in the rear part, but on a side part above the chancel. The organ dates from the 17th century and was purchased by the first Protestant pastor from his Franconian homeland. Below the pulpit and the organ there are several marble plaques, the text of which reminds of the deceased pastors and teachers of the community.

The church tower is built on the north-west side and at its base also includes the main portal of the sacred building. The tower has a pointed helmet, four bells and a clock. The exterior walls of the facade are plastered, and there are two rows of arched windows on each of the long sides, with seven arches per floor. The large wooden gallery encompasses three sides of the room and is decorated with folk painting. The altar, pulpit and organ case have baroque and classicist features. In the 1970s, the interior of the church (altar, benches, galleries, organ) was restored.

History of the Protestant Parish
16th and 17th centuries
From 1552 to 1597 there is a complete list of evangelical pastors for Bad Goisern, who held the Lutheran church service in St. Martin Church, today's Catholic parish church. With a decree by Emperor Rudolf II, the Counter Reformation was also introduced in the Salzkammergut. The riots that began in the Inner Salzkammergut in July 1601 because of the ban on religion were bloodily suppressed in February 1602 by the heavily armed troops of the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau. Around 100 years later, estimates by the responsible salt office in Gmunden assumed that, despite the ban and regular house searches for Protestant documents, around 3/4 of the population were Protestant.

18th and 19th centuries
In the 1730s, under the reign of Maria Theresa, residents from the Salzkammergut were forced to transmigrate to the Crown Land of Transylvania as so-called countrymen because of their Protestant belief. For 1733 alone, 624 Protestant Upper Austrians are recorded, 62 percent of them (387 people) from Goisern, who found their deportation in Neppendorf near Sibiu.

In October 1781, Emperor Joseph II proclaimed the patent of tolerance, thus ending the time of secret Protestantism in Austria. The prerequisite for a prayer house was at least 100 families or 500 individuals who declared themselves to be evangelicals. After around 180 years of secret Protestantism, 1,645 people registered for the Augsburg denomination in Bad Goisern.

As a result, a Protestant community was able to form in Bad Goisern as early as 1782, almost a year after the imperial patent came into effect. Bad Goisern was thus one of the very first “tolerance communities”. In today's Austria a total of 48 tolerance communities were created by 1795. On July 28, 1782 (9th Sunday after Trinity) around 4,000 people came to Goisern for the dedication of the prayer house, Christian Friedrich Salomon Kästner, who was trained in Erlangen, was the first pastor.


At the beginning the parish of Bad Goisern was responsible for large parts of the Salzkammergut. Gosau was raised to an independent tolerance community of Gosau as early as 1784. Hallstatt, at that time still politically united with Obertraun, was constituted in 1785 as a branch community of Goisern and built its own prayer house. In Bad Ischl the number of souls was still too low, the people of Ischl had to go to St. Arrive at the Last Supper in Bad Goisern.

From 1802 Johann Georg Overbeck took over the pastorate in Bad Goisern. Under his direction, the new parish church (1813-1816) could also be built. In 1820 his son-in-law Johann Theodor Wehrenfennig was elected pastor. In 1837 the Hallstatt branch church, which had previously been assigned to Goisern, was raised to the status of an independent parish of Hallstatt. Princess Therese von Thurn und Taxis provided support here. In 1856 Ernst Moritz Wehrenfennig was appointed Goiserer pastor, and in the following year he was able to initiate the construction of a church tower for the parish church.

After the neighboring Bad Ischl rose from the 1850s as the summer residence of the Austrian emperor to one of the most famous seaside resorts in the monarchy, many Protestant spa guests and aristocrats also attended the service in Bad Goisern, such as the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Friedrich Franz II his wife Marie. Not least thanks to the financial donations from the Grand Duke, a branch community of Goisern was established in Bad Ischl from 1872. This was the legal requirement to be able to celebrate evangelical services in Bad Ischl. Gustav Adolf Kotschy had been the Protestant pastor of Bad Goisern since 1897.

20th century
In 1902, the previous Goiserer daughter community of Bad Ischl was raised to an independent parish and the branch church became the Evangelical Parish Church of Bad Ischl. During the First World War, the Goiserer parish church had to deliver some bells and the copper roof. In 1926 Hans Neumayer took over the pastorate. After the annexation of Austria, the subsidy for the pastor's salary, which had existed since Emperor Joseph II and which the saltworks administration had to pay, and the servitude of the wood delivery were canceled. In 1969 Pastor Gerhard Richter took office. At this point, the renovation of the church and rectory began, which lasted until the early 1980s. In 1973 Dietmar Wurm joined the parish as vicar, and from 1980 he was pastor.

Protestant institutions in Bad Goisern
From 1784 there was a Protestant school in the center of Bad Goisern (Goisern No. 100) and in the Goiserer district of St. Agatha (St. Agatha No. 19). In a chronicle from 1828 189 school children are named for the first and 198 children for the second school building. On the basis of the Reich Primary School Act of 1869, the Protestant private schools were closed in November 1872 and the Catholic private schools were transferred to public primary schools.

The Protestant rectory was built in 1783, i.e. immediately after the first church. The parsonage and the second church built from 1813 are under monument protection. The Protestant cemetery was laid out in 1800, extensions are documented for 1902 and 1982.

The Protestant kindergarten opened its doors in 1863. Its foundation goes back to the pastor's wife Luise Wehrenfennig. The current building was inaugurated in 1976.

The evangelical old people's and nursing home Bad Goisern has had this name since 1911, but goes back to a previous facility from 1899. In 2007 a completely new building took place. The home can accommodate around 100 elderly people.

The evangelical student home Bad Goisern has existed in this form since 1950. Currently around 50 school children between 6 and 15 years of age are looked after. The predecessor institution was the evangelical orphanage Bad Goisern, which opened in 1906 and was closed after the annexation of Austria.

The Luise-Wehrenfennig-Haus is Bad Goisern's Protestant guest house with a capacity of around 80 beds and two seminar rooms. This youth and education home has existed since 1960, before the property served the Protestant children's home built in 1876. The building has been completely restored several times.

In Bad Goisern, the Catholic parish, which is smaller in number, maintains a certain parallel structure to the Protestant institutions in that there is also a separate Catholic kindergarten and its own Catholic cemetery. The catholic retirement home (Kreuzschwestern) and the catholic secondary school “Stephaneum” (school brothers) were closed at the beginning of the 21st century.


Demographic peculiarity
The judicial district of Bad Ischl, with a Protestant share of over 20 percent of the total population, has a relatively high presence of the Lutheran faith compared to other Austrian areas. In the Gmunden district, the Protestant church is represented with the largest area coverage in relation to Upper Austria, as more than half of the 20 political communities have a Protestant parish or branch church.

The majority of the population of Bad Goisern is Protestant (53 percent).