Archbishop: Estonian state, Lutheran Church to split cost of Narva cathedral ({{commentsTotal}})

Narva St. Alexander's Cathedral as seen on April 11, 2016. Source: (Eero Vabamägi/Postimees/Scanpix)

According Archbishop Urmas Viilma, the head of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK), while the church has not yet accumulated all of the necessary funds, they and Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas have in principle reached an agreement wherein the church will cover half the cost of buying St. Alexander's Cathedral in Narva, while the state will chip in the other half.

"Thus, St. Alexander's of Narva will be 'saved' jointly by the Estonian state and Estonia's Lutheran church, as both have expressed to one another readiness to cover half the purchase price,” Viilma announced on his Facebook page.

Just under two weeks ago, the archbishop announced a fundraising campaign to support the bankrupt St. Alexander’s congregation of Narva and buy out the cathedral, as it was put up for auction with the starting price set at 500,000 euros by creditors who had seized building after the congregation declared bankruptcy.

“My call to continue collecting funds remains very topical,” added Viilma in his message. “The collection [of donations] continues, as the amount needed has not yet been met!” As of his announcement on Friday, a total of more than 27,000 euros had been donated.

The auction for the cathedral was called off altogether on Thursday, however, according to Kerli Kase, a representative of the creditors and a member of the bankruptcy committee. Kase added that the cancellation had been requested by several parties, including the Ministry of the Interior.

ETV’s nightly news broadcast “Aktuaalne kaamera” quoted Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur on Friday as saying that it is very important that the Narva cathedral, which had been put up for auction to cover the bankrupt congregation’s debt, remain in public use, and that the building will likely come into state ownership, but details regarding exactly how and under what conditions this would happen remained open at the time.

Viru County Court declared the St. Alexander’s congregation of Narva bankrupt in April 2015 due to the small congregation’s inability to meet financial obligations taken on in connection with the renovations of the cathedral building. The bankruptcy petition was filed by construction company AS Eviko; the congregation’s debt at the time allegedly amounted to more than 2.1 million euros.

The state spent more than 2 million euros to help restore the Lutheran cathedral, one million of which was provided via a regional competitive program of the Enterprise Estonia foundation.

While its fate remains undecided, the congregation currently still has use of the cathedral and its other buildings.

Editor: Editor: Aili Sarapik

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