Following her election as Estonia's next head of state, President Kersti Kaljulaid turned down the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church's (EELK) offer to arrange a service of thanks in her honor, breaking with a custom credited to President Lennart Meri, the first President of Estonia following the restoration of Estonian independence in 1991.
"On the day of her election I congratulated Mrs. Kersti Kaljulaid by telephone and also let her know about the service of thanks custom and our readiness to arrange it," Archbishop of the EELK Urmas Viilma told daily Postimees (link in Estonian). "The president-elect promised to consider it."
A few days later, however, the church received a response from the Office of the President indicating that it had been decided to forgo the religious service. "These are decisions which are made by the president themselves," noted the archbishop. "But surely it is difficult in this office to find the right balance between a person's own wishes and institutional duties."
President Arnold Rüütel participated in a service of thanks at the Tallinn St. Mary's Cathedral (Toomkirik) on the day of his inauguration on Oct. 8, 2001. On Oct. 9, 2006, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves did the same at St. Charles' Church (Kaarli kirik).
Viilma recalled that the custom was established by President Lennart Meri, who wanted the service to take place at St. Mary's, the main cathedral of Estonia.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla