The state will support churches and religious associations with a €2 million package with most of the funds being assigned to cover daily operations. Some churches however want future services broadcasted over the Internet.
The Ministry of the Interior announced in April that religious associations affected by the coronavirus pandemic could receive a support package of up to €2 million. Today, close to €2.2 million of applications have reached the ministry.
All churches belonging to the Estonian Council of Churches applied for support. For example, the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church applied for €560,000 with over €300,000 of it to cover clergy wages.
Ilmo Au, head of the religious affairs department at the Ministry of the Interior, said that administrative costs are also a point of concern for churches.
Au said: "Because people could not go to services during the crisis, donations decreased but utilities still had to be paid."
Congregations that are not in the Council of Churches will also receive support. For example, the Estonian Jewish Center and two Buddhist congregations will receive support. Applications from religious NGO's such as the Salvation Army and the Village of Hope also reached the ministry.
Au noted that a lot of associations dealing with social work also operate largely on donations and now need assistance to cover expenses.
Tartu Pereraadio (religious radio station in Tartu - ed.) applied for support to fix their receiver in Tallinn that was damaged by a lightning strike.
Au said: "That falls under the regulation of improving IT solutions. If there has been a technical accident or the applicant wants to improve their technical capability, including their digital capability, then this kind of improvement has long-term ramifications."
He noted that tens of congregations streamed their church services via Internet during the pandemic. Now many wish to improve their capabilities.
Au said: "A couple of clergies told me that in practice, the number of participants for online services was greater than that of regular services. We can predict that the younger generation will use more of these digital capabilities."
At the same time, there have been applications that do not meet the requirements of the Ministry of the Interior.
"The most vivid example that I can remember is buying a vehicle in order to spread information among people. That is not the goal of the support package."
OÜ Kiriku Varahaldus made a profit of €362,000 last year, still planning high-rise building in Tallinn
OÜ Kiriku Varahaldus, property manager of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, had a turnover of €4.1 million last year, of which €362,000 was a net profit.
According to its annual report, the Evangelical Lutheran Church has not abandoned its plans to build a 33-story building on the corner of Lennuki tänav and Maakri tänav, with detailed plans still in process.
The church announced that their sales revenue increased last year due to a real estate sale of developmental property on Eha tänav. Kiriku Varahaldus built a residential building on Eha 12.
The turnover of tenants on Kiriku Varahaldus' commercial premises has also increased, which meant a decrease in revenue and an increase in investments to improve conditions at premises.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste