Inkerin kirkko sin historie
Kirken "vår" på Kola

Den følgende teksten er en gjennomgang av historien til den lutherske kirken på Kola, som vi samarbeider med. Språket er foreløpig engelsk, men vi vil forhåpentligvis få det oversatt om ikke lenge.


The earliest inhabitants of Ingria belonged to Finno-Ugric tribes. Later, Slavic people moved to the area, gained a position of power and tried to convert the Finno-Ugric tribes into Greek Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Church also tried to gain footing in the area, thus the tribes were the objects of missionary activity from both churches. Although it seems likely that the first conversions into Christianity took place before year 1200, people were probably fairly pagan at the time of the Reformation, because of a weak Orthodox clergy in the area.

Under Swedish Rule

In 1617 Ingria became a part of the Swedish kingdom. The new regime wanted to enforce Swedish legislation - including education - in the new province. It was beneficial for the kingdom that all subjects should belong to the same denomination, therefore a process of lutherization was begun.

Army chaplains turned out to be the most effective teachers of people, as the majority of them spoke Finnish. They held church services in Finnish, consequently small congregations sprung up around garrisons, which can be considered the first Ingrian congregations. Later on Finnish congregations were founded around manors, which had sizable Finnish domestic staffs.

In 1628 and 1640 Ingria was divided into two deaneries, which were further divided into parishes. Each parish had a church and a pastor.

In 1641 Ingria was turned to a diocese, Narva being the diocesan city. The first bishop was Henrik Stahell, the cathedral dean of Tallinn, who was educated in Germany.

The First Bishop - Rev. Stahell

Stahell organized his diocese briskly. On 16 June 1642 the first Church Order, drawn up by Stahell, was accepted by the Government and became more or less permanent.

Stahell paid special attention to the training of new pastors. Furthermore, he prepared a service book for the Church of Ingria, which, however, was not accepted. As a result of"1iis activities, the influence of the Orthodox church weakened.

The Church Order was of a great national importance, as it prevented the spreading of Orthodoxism among the Finnish population. As result, being Finnish meant being Lutheran.

The process started by Stahell had good results: the level of education of the clergy improved, the congregations had good pastors, people learnt more about the Christian faith and the level of literacy went up and ecclesiastical life became regular. During Stahell's era 14 new Finnish churches were built. In 1655 there were 58 Lutheran congregations, 36 churches and 42 pastors in Ingria. These numbers have never been surpassed.

After Stahell's death in 1657 the development of the church came to a halt, as his successors were rather incompetent.

Rev. Gezelius

The most Finnish and the most learned of the bishops of Ingria was Johan Gezelius, Jr. He was the bishop from 1681 to 1689. The Government gave the bishop and the governor fairly free hands in reorganizing the province. Consequently, to those converting to the Lutheran faith were granted tax relief, Finnish pastors were required to teach doctrine in Finno-Ugric homes, Russian priests were forbidden to perform Orthodox rites to Finno-Ugric people, etc.

The separation of the Finno-Ugric tribes from the Russian population became Gezellius's main object. His programme became a royal degree on 4 May 1683. Only monolingual Russians were allowed to remain in the Orthodox Church and all Finno-Ugric people were given a Finnish education.

Under Russian Rule

In 1696, when Ingria once again became a part of Russia, there were 31 pure Finnish Congregations in Ingria. In the parish registers 90% of all last names were Finnish, the remaing 10% of Swedish, German, Russian or of Finno-Ugric origin. In 1702 Peter the Great granted the Finns the right to their own faith. The Lutheran Church and schools were allowed to operate as before and the Church was granted the right to observe the Canon Law of 1686.

The favorable position was largely due to the influence Germans had in Russian Government circles. The Church of Ingria lived under the wings of the German Lutheran Church of Russia. Under the Russian regime, the Senate decided on matters pertaining to the Church of Ingria until 1718 and the College of Justice until 1721. When the Orthodox Synod was founded in 1721, all denominations in Russia were transferred under its jurisdiction. In 1727 the Synod founded a special department for non-Orthodox denominations, the members of which were mainly ministers of the German Lutheran Church of St. Petersburg and its official language was German.

In the end, the College of Justice left the Church of Ingria to the Dean of St. Petersburg. The German Church of St. Petersburg gained a leading position among the congregations of Ingria.

With German help the Church of Ingria was slowly able repair the damages of the war. Each parish got its pastor, churches were rebuilt and the area was divided into three deaneries. By 1760 each parish had a church.

Gradually the Church of Ingria was able to reorganize itself along previous lines, which was aided by The Law for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, published in 1832. In 1820 Sakari Cygnaeus became bishop of the Lutheran congregations in the St. Petersburg area and started to reorganize Ingrian church life: there was a re-division of parishes and competent pastors were invited from Finland to Ingria.

According to the new Church Order, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia was divided into eight dioceses, each with its own cathedral chapter. The Church of Ingria belonged to the St. Petersburg Diocese. The land of Ingria was now under the Russian Government and the Church of Ingria was led by Germans. From 1710 Ingria was officially called the province of St. Petersburg, but the German Church Government retained the name Ingria (Ingerman-land).

The first Sunday Schools were started in Markkova-Jarvisaari in 1874 by Rev. Otto Rokkanen and in 1878 in Lempaala and Valkea-saari by Rev. A. Forstadius. By 1899 there were 445 Sunday Schools in Ingria with 1,172 teachers and 8,829 pupils.

The first youth meeting was held in Skuoritsa in 1913. In 1918 Christian youth societies were founded and youth work became more established.

Perhaps the greatest Finnish missionary, Dr Martti Rautanen, was originally from Ingria. He worked in the area, which is now known as Namibia from 1868 to 1926.

The Revolution

Initially, the revolution of 1917 brought new freedom into the non-Orthodox church life. Reforms were more necessary than ever. However, the Church of Ingria was never able to celebrate its 300th anniversary, as the times changed once again.

In 1918 all churches and denominations were separated from the state and the schools from the church. The communist state claimed all churches, parsonages, schools, funds, libraries, etc. However, a congregation could use its church free of charge, if it was made up of more than 20 persons. Soon there were new restrictions: No ecclesiastical rites were to be performed without a certificate from the local council. At first Religious Education was voluntary in schools, then it was banned altogether and atheistic education was started in its stead. Furthermore, all religious education was forbidden for anyone under 18 and for those over the age of 18 religious education could be given only on courses which had been approved by the government. A seminary for the training of pastors was arranged in 1927 in German, but it had to close its doors in 1935.

In June 1924 the representatives of Evangelical Lutheran congregations were sent to Moscow to the first general synod, four delegates represented the Church of Ingria. Synod drew up a new Canon Law and Church Order and set up an Evangelical Lutheran Consistory. The second and the last Synod took place in Moscow in 1928.

In the 30s

In the early 30s the state started to watch the Church of Ingria closer and its operation was hindered in every possible way and its rights were very limited. The servants of the Church lost their legal rights and were punished severely even for the slightest breach of law. They might also be taxed more than what their annual income was. Although congregations could use their former property free of charge, there were heavy levies, rents and insurance fees on the lots.

In 1931 the collectivization of land was in full process in the St. Petersburg area. Ingrian peasants were reluctant to give up their fields and the authorities blamed the Church for it.

The majority of Ingrian pastors had to leave their congregations and move to Finland. Already as early as 1919 their numbers were small and by then several had already been imprisoned. Those who left were never to return. In 1923 only two pastors remained of the original 30 Finnish pastors and a couple of years later, only one. Rev. S.J. Laurikkala, a dean. It was no longer possible to get new pastors - those wishing to move to Ingria from Finland were not allowed to do so.

Only three Finnish pastors were trained in the German seminary and very soon after the revolution the Church had to rely on lay workers who had taken examinations at the cathedral chapter. At the most, there were less than 20 lay workers serving 30 congregations with almost 150,000 members. In the end the authorities closed down all churches where services were held without a pastoral worker.

The work was greatly hampered by the lack of Christian literature. It was illegal to print religious texts or newspapers in Finnish and one could not bring them from Finland either. Only once, in 1927, a limited number of Bibles, New Testaments, catechisms, books on the history of the Bible and hymnbooks, 2,000 copies each, was permitted to be bought from Finland and distributed. Rev. Laurikkala was later arrested for it.

Continuous Church officers' and preachers' arrests, deportations and the limitation of operation were the beginning of the end. Large-scale deportations of Ingrians began in 1931. More people were moved in 1935 and 1936, when the greatest part of Northern Ingria was emptied of the Finnish population. One third (60,000) of the Ingrian Finnish population was deported and was without any spiritual care. In 1937 the last remaining pastor had to leave, because he was a Finnish citizen.