Information about the Lutheran Church

Unfortunately ancient Polotsk has not preserved many architectural monuments. For different reasons churches and cloisters were either destroyed by people on purpose or suffered from wars. Among the buildings that survived we can consider the former Lutheran church at Nizhne-Pokrovskaya Street. This building is the only monument of Neogothic in our town nowadays. Red bricks, a broach spire, pointed towers-pinnacles, lancet windows – these are the characteristic features of Gothic architecture.

Researchers, having studied the documents of various archives, failed to find out the precise date of the building of the church. Its construction dates back to the end of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th cc. And only this year the staff of the Museum of local lore had more luck. Among the documents of The National Historical archives of the Republic of Belarus several letters, appeals of Polotsk Lutherans and the report of the chief of Polotsk police were found, where the precise date of the building was pointed out.

At first church services were held in the wooden chapel. In the appeal of the Department of religious affairs of foreign confessions to the Governor of Vitebsk it was proposed to build a new stone church instead of the old wooden one that had decayed a lot. The necessity to build of a new church appeared because of a growing number of Lutherans in Polotsk and the district – 850 people. Moreover, Polotskers did not have their local pastor. Holy services were held by a priest from Vitebsk.

A new church was built in a year and a half and the Lutheran church was solemnly opened on the 18th of December 1888. The stone church was consecrated in honour of Saint Mary.

The ceremony of consecration began at 10 o’clock in the morning. The clergy and the parish gathered at first in the former chapel where the pastor of Vitebsk Karolin read a farewell sermon. Then the Sacred gifts and the Gospel were transported to the new church and a divine service was held – at first in German, then in Latin. After the service at 16 o’clock there was a festive dinner in the women’s boarding house of Mrs.Vilgelmina Rulkovius in honour of the opening of the Polotsk Evangelical-Lutheran church.

In the documents of the beginning of the 20th c. we can come across the name of the priest of the Lutheran church – Felix Maksimovich (Maksimilianovich) Berche. His house stood in Nizhne-Pokrovskaya Street in front of the church. After the revolution the attitude towards religion in a new country changed. According to a resercher of local lore Ivan Dejnis the church was closed in 1924, at the beginning of the 1930s the District museum of local lore was transferred from St.Sofiya Cathedral to the former church. It is known that holy services were held here again during the Great Patriotic war. After the war the town cinema worked in the church for some time, then grain was kept here, in 1950 the exposition of tre Museum of local lore was organized here again. Maybe trancks to of this our town has preserved a beautiful monument of Neogothic that up to now dreserved lost its artistic value in spite of numerous reconstructions.