Diakonisse Gerda Hegemann sitzt mit ihrem Kuscheltier-Schaf im Sessel.

Close to people | Stories from Bethel

Handicraft is her great passion

Deaconess Gerda Hegemann celebrates her 100th birthday

Boredom is a foreign word for deaconess Gerda Hegemann. Even at almost 100 years old, the Bielefeld native, whose birthday is on 22 July, knows how to keep herself busy. Her great passion is crocheting. She has already created a small zoo with monkeys, elephants and bears in her room at the "Frieda v. Bodelschwingh" residential home in Bethel. "I'm grateful that my fingers are still so fit even in old age," says the deaconess. As soon as she holds the needles in her hands, she forgets everything around her. She is also jokingly referred to as "Gerda the manufacturer". Her cushions, tablecloths and crocheted animals are always very popular at the Sarepta Sisterhood's Christmas bazaar. But there is one thing she can't part with. "My little sheep stays with me," she says firmly.

Crochet figures
Deaconess Gerda Hegemann has already made many different figures.

Gerda Hegemann discovered her love of needlework at an early age and trained in hand embroidery at the age of 14. However, at the age of 29, the Bielefeld native, who grew up with three sisters in a Christian family home in Brake, decided to take a different path: "I heard the call to join a social welfare organisation and followed it," she recalls. She joined the Sarepta Sisterhood in the 1950s, passed her nursing exams and was ordained as a deaconess. She spent the majority of her working life as a parish nurse in Hagen-Eilpe. There she cared for the elderly and sick, helped organise children's services and was involved in the women's aid group. Although she returned to Bethel for her retirement, she still keeps in touch with people in the South Westphalian community. Some of them will visit her on her milestone birthday.

Crocheted monkeys
Different animal figures

What Gerda Hegemann starts, she does right. That's why she left nothing to chance on her 100th birthday and planned everything precisely. The self-written invitations were sent out well in advance, family and friends were informed that the birthday celebrant did not want any presents, but instead asked for a donation for the Ukrainian refugees in Bethel. The programme has also been set for weeks: a birthday service and reception are planned for 22 July, followed by visits from relatives and friends in the afternoon. On the following day, Gerda Hegemann also wants to celebrate the special occasion with her fellow residents in the residential home - a busy programme, but after all, you only turn 100 once in a lifetime.

Text: Christina Heitkämper | Photos: Christian Weische

This story simply told

Gerda Hegemann will soon be 100 years old. Her favourite hobby is needlework. She realised early on that she was good at it and trained in hand embroidery. She later joined the Sarepta Sisterhood and became a deaconess. Until her retirement, she cared for the elderly and sick as a community nurse.

Would you like to find out more?


Sarepta Sisterhood
Am Zionswald 5
33617 Bielefeld

0521 144 2101

To the website of the institution

Offers & services

The Sarepta Sisterhood is a community of women from different generations. They work in various social fields of diaconal and church work on a full-time and voluntary basis, combining faith, life, work and learning.

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