A Brief History of Gornau, Germany
Gornau is in the Free State of Saxony, a federal state in the east. During forty years of Communist rule, the northeastern region of Germany was oppressed and underdeveloped. Those in power persecuted the Church in different ways, whether that meant prohibiting Church members from studying at a university or obtaining particular job posts, and also made conscious efforts to prevent the German people from even being able to speak about God. One of the elders in the Gornau community, only 32 years old, still remembers some Russian from his elementary school days. Russian language textbooks omitted any instance of the word бог (God), and teachers were not permitted even to mention the word.
Just over 20 years after the fall of Communist rule in East Germany, this community is a link to that era. The older generations in this community have a shared memory of what it is like to be Christians in a time and place when, to put it softly, a person is not supposed to be a Christian. This community knows what it’s like to truly rely on God to carry on the life of the Church in times of persecution. While the impact of Communist rule is still noticeable, in that many people are simply unconcerned with any notion of God, there is hope and things are changing. The openness of the people to the Gospel is progressively increasing. There is good work to be done in Gornau.
The Gornau parish outside of Chemnitz encompasses three villages: Gornau, Dittmannsdorf, and Witzschdorf. These three villages are smaller, tight-knit communities who are still dealing with the aftermath of the former German Democratic Republic. This area, in a region with proximity to many historical Martin Luther sites, is less-developed and there are much lower numbers in church membership.