St.Paul’s Lutheran Church in Estonia is going through a period of transformation – the church is under renovation and the people are living in the midst of changes and challenges.
Since January this year, St.Paul’s Lutheran congregation in Tartu is celebrating Sunday services in the basement of the church – in the newly built crypt. As the room is small with seats for about 100 people, the service needs to be held twice each Sunday. This has also a positive side – some of the members of the congregation have said that now it feels more like family – people are closer together and there is more communication between otherwise reserved Estonians. The church resembles more to a prayer house now – with a great need to pray – as the main church hall still needs to be restored.
Members of the congregation live in faith. With God’s grace, a lot of work has been done so far – the crypt and columbarium got finished last autumn and the side building of the church before that. Behind it is the work and commitment of many people, but renovating the church in such extent in these days is God's miracle.
But the pastor of the congregation, Joel Luhamets, is also convinced that together with renovating the church, we need to renew our congregation and continue active Bible teaching, children and youth work and social work among the poorest in our society. The church is about people – but having a church building is also important to serve people around us and invite those who are out, to come in.
|Before Sunday service|
St Paul’s congregation was established in 1910. The church was designed by architect Eliel Saarinen and built from 1915 until 1917. On 25th of August 1944, the church was burnt into ruins. The side building and the church tower got restored and the church bells started to ring again in 1946. In 1948, the restoration of the church stalled as the pastor Harry Haamer was arrested. The church hall was restored in 1966, but the Soviet authorities divided it into two. The bigger part of the church hall was used by the National Museum until year 2005. A few weeks ago, the dividing wall was torn down.
The congregation has two dreams – to restore the house of God – and to fill it with people.
|Church hall without dividing wall|