In the former Soviet Union, where churches were shut down, destroyed or seized by the government in the days of communism, every historic sanctuary now being reclaimed for its original use seems to have a story. So it is with the Lutheran Parish of St. Peter in the village of Malye Kolpuny, which was the venue for a recent Equipping the Saints workshop hosted by Lutheran Hour Ministries—Russia.
Malye Kolpuny is situated just over a mile from a country palace built in Gatchina in the 1790’s by Russia’s Emperor Paul I. Legend says that Paul, once lost in the woods while hunting, followed the sound of a rooster’s crow to the house of a ranger, and according to the legend, Paul fell in love with the ranger’s daughter. In 1800, to commemorate his rescue, Paul had a church erected in that place—and, since the ranger and his daughter were Lutherans of Finnish descent, Paul directed that the church was to be Lutheran!
“During the Soviet times,” says LHM—Russia Director Igor Savich, “the church was closed and a factory was built on its land.” The church has reopened, but the factory is still in operation as well—so when the LHM team arrived for their ETS event, they had to go through the factory’s security desk. The church is a “big, beautiful brick building,” says Igor, who adds, “though the building is a landmark of federal significance, it has not been repaired.”
Following worship at this venerable old church, a number of members—mostly married couples, according to Igor—stayed and were very interested in the LHM presentations and discussions about ways to spread the Gospel.
“Materials concerning Islam sparked great interest among the people,” says Igor. “We are hoping that our visit gave the church a new motivation in sharing the Good News of Jesus!”