€1 million has been set aside in the budget to build a new Lutheran church in Jõgeva for a congregation with 44 members. The same congregation has received approximately €500,000 from previous budgets.
In 1997, the first Lutheran parish building in Jõgeva was consecrated. The hall had 130 seats and the congregation had 126 members. The local deacon hoped the new building would bring more members to the congregation. Instead, the number of people has dwindled over the years.
The dream of a church with a tower dates back to 1934, when farmer Johan Riives donated a plot of land for this purpose. When the congregation returned the land after regaining independence, a water tower had been built. The sketch, completed in 2016, depicted the water tower as a church tower which has now been modified and will open later this year. A church will now be added.
Chairman of Jõgeva rural municipality council Aivar Kokk (Isamaa), a member of the Riigikogu said the new building will not be built only for the church.
"Since it is the church's land, the word 'church' is also there in the construction project. But in fact, a community center is being built," Kokk explained. "The elderly have been asking for a meeting place for years, the youth center is in very poor rooms."
Kokk said in the vision of the city council and the city government, all these functions would be in the same building as the church in the future. "On the one hand, this saves on utility costs, but also on the salaries of supervisors, that there is no need for so many supervisors anymore," Kokk added.
Services will be held in the church on Sundays, at other times the house is open to all other activities but larger events will be held in the culture house in Jõgeva.
Previously, €40,000 was allocated the congregation for design work and the next grant of €400,000 came from the 2019 state budget.
Last week, a crane lifted a white cross to the top of the tower, and Georg Glaase, a teacher at the Jõgeva congregation, hopes that a new-looking tower can be ceremoniously opened around Christmas. A suitable church bell for the tower is still being sought.
If everything runs to plan, the tower will not stand on its own for long and a public procurement will soon be announced and the new church could be blessed at Christmas 2021.
Minister of Population Riina Solman (Isamaa) said allocating the money was a joint decision of the government. Giving money for a brand new church is also extraordinary, Solman said.
She said Christmas peace is proclaimed every year in Jõgeva. "The Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Riigikogu are always present. During Advent, it has always been the center of attention."
Editor: Helen Wright