Archbishop of Estonian Lutheran church announces fundraising campaign for Narva cathedral (4)
Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) Urmas Viilma announced a fundraising campaign on Monday to support the bankrupt St. Alexander’s congregation of Narva and help salvage its assets.
A representative of the creditors who seized the Narva cathedral after bankruptcy announced a month ago that the creditors had decided to put the building up for auction with the starting price set at 500,000€, a sum which, according to the office of the archbishop, neither the EELK nor the state government independently could spare.
Members of the public, however, including a number of entrepreneurs, have expressed readiness to help support the buyout of the building in order to keep it in public use as a sacral and cultural space.
In the appeal sent to Estonia’s Lutheran congregations on Monday, Archbishop Viilma admitted that leaders of the St. Alexander’s congregation had made mistakes and made some fateful decisions in attempts to speed up the restoration of the cathedral in the late 2000s.
The head of the EELK continued, however, that after discussions regarding the issue with Estonian leaders in recent weeks, and considering their concern and their efforts to resolve the problem, he remained confident that there was hope of salvaging at least part of the congregation’s assets, first and foremost the Narva Alexander’s Cathedral, by buying it out of the bankruptcy estate.
Viru County Court declared the St. Alexander’s congregation of Narva bankrupt in 2015 due to the small congregation’s inability to meet financial obligations taken on in connection with the renovations of the cathedral building.
The bankrupt congregation currently still has use of the church and its other buildings, but after their sale at auction as part of the bankruptcy estate, if enough funds are not raised to buy out the cathedral, Lutherans in the predominantly Russian-speaking border city of Narva will be left displaced, and it is likely that the symbolic structure not be restored for public use as a house of worship.
The Narva church's original cornerstone was laid in summer 1881. As Russian Emperor Alexander II had been assassinated in spring of that year, a unanimous decision was reached in fall of 1883 to name both the church and the congregation after Alexander II.
Narva Alexander's Church was consecrated on June 9 (May 28 according to the old Julian Calendar), 1884. The cathedral was given suurkirik status by President Lennart Meri on September 19, 2000.