A popular vicar has died after he collapsed at the altar in a packed church while giving his last service before retiring.
Pastor Dietrich Koehler-Miggel, 65, was just reaching the end of his final service at the Trinity Parish Church in the city of Duisburg in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
He was about to bless the congregation – many of whom were standing in the aisles because the church was so busy – when he suddenly stopped speaking.
Pictures Credit: CEN & CEN/Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Trinitatis
Pastor Koehler-Miggel stepped away from the pulpit and tried to sit on a chair but collapsed and fell onto the floor to the shock of the assembled crowd.
A number of churchgoers with first aid training rushed to his side and tried to stabilise him while they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
Paramedics then arrived on the scene and rushed the priest to a nearby hospital while trying to resuscitate him but it was to no avail as he died en route.
Pastor Koehler-Miggel leaves behind a wife, children and grandchildren with whom he had been looking forward to spend more time after his retirement.
The cause of his death has not been confirmed but local media reported he had heart problems.
Pastor Koehler-Miggel had been with the Duisburg parish since moving to the area in 1991 at the age of 37.
Shocked parishioners said he had always been there for his flock and often provided pastoral care during emergencies in the area.
One churchgoer said: “He was a happy, sweet-natured man. Not only in church – even when he was riding his bike, he always made time for a quick chat.”