Library on Salvatorplatz
In 1896 the first recorded American Episcopal services were held in Munich. The Church of the Ascension was formally incorporated in 1903 in the Hamburg-American offices on Theatinerstraße. The first Rector was the Rev. John Henry McCracken, who also conducted services in Oberammergau.
The Church moved to a former public school building at Salvatorplatz in downtown Munich in 1910. There the church library, founded by our first Rector, provided books, newspapers, and periodicals. In 1913 alone, some 40,000 people visited the library.
Between World Wars the church prospered. Then on 2 March 1942, the Gestapo closed the church and burned the fittings, the church's records, and the 8,000 books in the John Henry McCracken Memorial Library. At the end of the War, a pre-war Rector, John Haynes, returned and ascertained that the facilities at Salvatorplatz had been sequestered by the Soviet Mission and were no longer available. As a result, the Church used U.S.Army facilities for some years
In June 1955 the Church of the Ascension rented space on Kaulbachstraße near the city center to establish the American Church Center for the large number of American students then in Munich. In 1956 the Rev. Robert G.W. Spellman was assigned by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church as Chaplain of the Church of the Ascension and Director of the American Church Center. At this time the Church began holding services at St. Willibrord's Old Catholic Church on Blumenstraße in the city center.
The next move, in 1970, was to our present location as guests of the Lutheran Emmauskirche in residential Harlaching, on the southern edge of the city. With this move, both geographical and financial reasons dictated the closing of the Church Center on Kaulbachstraße.
Father Riley's weekly program on AFN, "This is Living"
The ministries of the Rev. Edward Riley (1969-76) and the Rev. Henry H. Wilson (1976-92) saw major changes in the composition of the congregation and in the church's status. The Church of the Ascension shifted from being a downtown church with a major mission serving students and young people, to a suburban church with primary emphasis on serving families.
During Henry Wilson's ministry, the Church changed from being a mission church, i.e., receiving financial support from the Convocation and national church, to become an independent parish. The withdrawal of the American military in 1992 resulted in further changes. The Rev. Henry Wilson participated in the first concelebration of the Eucharist with the German Lutheran Church in Europe.
In November 1992 the Rev. Henry H. Wilson retired to live in Norway after serving the Church of the Ascension for 15 years. There was a long interregnum with the Rev. Walter E. Phelps as our interim Rector through December 1993, then a period of six months with no interim Rector in place and a Lay Vicar appointed to coordinate the worship. The Rev. Harold R. Bronk, Jr., a priest and retired theologian then living in Italy, was formally installed as Rector in September of 1994, having joined us in July. The ministry was short-lived. The Rev. Bronk resigned in November 1995; and he and his wife, the Rev. Joyce Caggiano, returned to Massachusetts at the end of January 1996.
From late January through June 1996, the Rev. Kevin Coffey was our interim priest. The Rev. Canon Fletcher Lowe, Jr., a trained interim Rector, was appointed to be with us for the remainder of the interregnum to prepare the way for the new rector. Both of these priests were instrumental in helping our parish move through this unsettled time.
Then in February 1997, the Rev. Thomas J-P Pellaton arrived in Munich to be our new Rector. Since this time, the parish has been on a journey of growth and renewal, with many new and expanded ministries.
In early 2008, the Rev. Tom Pellaton answered a call to the Church of the Ascension in Rockville Center, Long Island. Rev. Gray Temple served as our interim priest until March 2009. Rev. Steve Smith was appointed Rector from September 2009 to December 2018. Church of the Ascension is currently in interregnum and up to April 2019 was being served by Rev. Clair Ullmann and Rev. Frauke Ackermann. As of April 2019 we additionally have a dedicated interim rector, Rev. Allan Sandlin.