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On duty as a volunteer in the St Stephan Church: a musical intermezzo bu the organ player Ton den den Hout, Emeritus Professor at the Radboud University, Nijmegen.

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Our local first division football club NEC presents itself this year in a very unusual place: the Saint Stephan Church:

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Back to normal:

After the period of training, marches and house-guest, life returns to the regular routine. My volonteer work at the Saint Stephan Church opened a new perspective on the word “ART”.

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As a volunteer I was on duty today, Sunday 01 July. From 01:00PM till 02:00PM there was an open rehearsal by a choir from Venlo (city in Limbourg, on river Meuse). Two recordings: an English carol and one of the Four Sacred Pieces by Giuseppe Verdi.

 

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Mega Subsidy Nimwegen Saint Stephan Church for new roof and new windows

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The Saint Stephan Church, the Nimwegen icon, receives a mega subsidy of €5.5/£4.8/CA$8.4 million for restoration. The money is intended for an almost completely new roof covering and replacement of the worn stained-glass windows. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is making the grant available from a new €34/£30/CA$52  million pool for large national monuments. The Saint Stephan Church gets the biggest bite from the 29 projects awarded. For example, the Eusebius Church in Arnheim gets ‘only’ €1/£0.9/CA$1.5 million.

s3C.E.O. Heleen Wijgers, who has lobbied firmly for the government subsidy as the foundation director, is very happy. ,,I knew we were in the race, but this is an enormous amount. It is a beautiful recognition for the significance of the building as cultural-historical heritage, but it may be more a recognition of the way we function as a multifunctional church in society.” Every year, in addition to oecumenical services, numerous manifestations, lectures and university events take place here. The church is supported by hundreds of volunteers, ‘friends of Stevenskerk’ and Steveniers (a ‘Stevenier’ adopts the church financially for 1 day per year, at a rate of €365/£321/CA$560 a year, for a period of at least 5 years; in theory the church could collect this way €133,225/£117.331/CA$204.345 per year, but there are still a lot of vacant days). The house of God attracts 135,000 visitors annually. For the attraction of tourists alone, support for the church is logical according to Wijgers. ,,For every euro, Nimwegen gets 1.40 euros back.”

Roof repair

The roof repair was one of the biggest wishes of the managing foundation. “A condition to be ready as far as possible in 2022 for the celebration of the 750th anniversary of the church,” said Wijgers. The roof, with impressive height differences, is covered over the full surface with aged slate or slate slabs. Wijgers: ,,If we do nothing now, then you know for sure that it will leak everywhere sooner or later.” In 2014 and 2015 a small part has already been replaced. Everywhere under the surface are wooden vaults. “In the event of a leak, these rots”, explains Wijgers why further intervention is necessary. About the stained-glass windows: “A lot of water has already been struck through the windows during storms.”

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Some point of concern: the money may only be used when the Saint Stephan Foundation collects 30 percent or more than €1.6/£1.4/CA$2.5 million. “A luxury problem,” says Treasurer Fred van Efferen. ,,With the help of the municipality and the province, who are well disposed towards us, and perhaps loans, I expect that we will get there. We can not leave this opportunity untouched.” According to Wijgers, a plan for the roof restoration is not yet available, because the additional financing still has to be arranged. According to her, the million-euro subsidy certainly does not end the need to raise money. ,,The Saint Stephan Church is a large church, where new restorations must always be done.”

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In the morning my duty in the St Stephan Church, from 10:ooam till 01:45pm. Pierre came over to the church to pick me up. Festivities in the city (and whole country!) because it was Kingsday, the birthday of HM Willem Alexander. He visited the city of Groningen, and there was also in the evening the Kings Concert. We had a stroll in the city and visited afterwards Erik and Ineke van Bronswijk.

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On the second day of Bart’s visit, we walked to the town center and peeked in the Saint Stephan Church, to see the two Chtistmas nativity scenes:

Under the König Organ is the scene by the Brethern of Limbourg

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In the Choir the scene of Biblical Parc Orientalis:

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the city of Bethlehem

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the nativity

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Every year mid-October there is the so called event: “Days of Nimwegen History”. Everything is then -during three days- according to the life during the Middle Ages. In the Saint Stephan Church food is prepared like in the middle ages, people are dressed accordingly and there are exhibitions and lectures.