Head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Estonia (EELK) Archbishop Urmas Viilma has called for churches to toll their bells next week in an effort to prompt the government to allow places of worship to reopen for public services. According to Viilma, this is not a protest.
Churches have been closed for public worship since mid-March, meaning no face-to-face easter services were held this year, and have been livestreaming their services online. Last week, the head of the Estonian Council of Churches (Eesti Kirikute Nõukogu) Archbishop Emeritus Andres Põder called for a lifting on emergency restrictions on churches in Estonia from Friday, May 1.
"As this decision has not yet been made, the call for churches to toll their bells arose to indicate that we are ready. We are not protesting, we are not demonstrating, we are just indicating our readiness with joyful bell ringing," Viilma explained to Aktuaalne kaamera".
The emergency situation, enacted on March 12, is currently set to expire on May 17. Public events must be cancelled until the end of June.
Even though some of the restrictions have been eased - the ban on using outdoor playgrounds and sports facilities was lifted from Saturday and open-air museums were permitted to open to the public from Sunday - Viilma said it would be difficult to hold services outdoors, as seating would have to be arranged and weather must be taken into account, adding that churches are large enough for adhering to the rules in effect.
"There is no real difference between coming to churches or staying at home behind screens, if Holy Communion cannot be administered. Taking Holy Communion is an important part of symbolically remaining a Christian," Viilma said.
Editor: Anders Nõmm