[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Küster

Richard Benert benovich at live.com
Sun Feb 24 09:26:36 PST 2013

Many thanks for these answers to my Küster question.  It appears that in 
general they were more than mere sextons, and more than mere sacristans.  I 
would guess that in Catholic villages they might fill more the role of the 
sacristan than in Lutheran churches, and for sure in Baptist churches where 
sacred objects and garments were scarce (if Baptists had them at all).  I'm 
doing a bit of translating (which triggered my question), and I'm wondering 
if it would be better to just leave it as "Küster", maybe followed by a 
parenthetical note.  I'll listen to any suggestion.

Dick B.

-----Original Message----- 
From: Jerry Frank
Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2013 7:02 AM
To: Richard Benert
Cc: ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org
Subject: Re: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Küster

All the pure definitions so far are correct BUT the function of the Küster, 
especially when referred to as "Küster Lehrer" in Russia at least (and I 
think also in Russian Poland to a lesser extent) was different.  There he 
acted more in the role of lay minister.  He performed baptisms, conducted 
funerals, and led the church services complete with sermon (most often read 
from a book).  He kept the local church books and would usually be the 
school teacher as well.  He would not serve communion nor conduct marriages. 
In Volhynia he appears to have been more commonly known as a Kantor.  These 
would not be functions filled by what typical English people would 
understand as a sexton.

My dad was for a time the "caretaker" of the church in Rosenfeld but his 
role was more that of a sexton, a term unheard of in the local German 
community.  He cleaned the church regularly, arrived early on Sundays to 
stoke the furnace with coal, rang the bell as a call to worship and during 
the Lord's Prayer, dug graves when required, etc.  But he was never a 

I am speaking in Lutheran context here.  I don't know if Baptists had an 
equivalent position.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Benert" <benovich at live.com>
To: ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org
Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2013 9:30:51 PM
Subject: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Küster

My dictionaries tell me that “Küster” can be defined either as “sexton” or 
“sacristan.”  Can anyone tell me which of these two would best fit the 
Küster in the German villages in Russia?

Dick Benert
Ger-Poland-Volhynia site list
Ger-Poland-Volhynia at sggee.org

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