St. Paul’s Church restoration
Shortly before the collapse of the USSR, Wiedergeburd («Revival») society, which later became the first union of the German national and cultural minorities in the former Soviet Union, was organized. The Lutheran religious from Odessa branch of the society officially registered the Evangelical Lutheran community of Odessa in the state bodies on October 16, 1990. The latter became the first community in Ukraine, a newly established after the destruction of the Lutheran Church in the Soviet period.
Facades after restoration
Due to the efforts of the Lutheran Church community members the garbage was removed from the church, doors with locks were installed, apertures of the ground floor were laid, the pews were made and a temporary altar with a crucifix and the artistic depiction of Jesus behind the altar appeared. Simultaneously with the works alms collection from members and visitors of the community was carried out for the benefit of the future temple restoration. In 1992, the Synod of the Lutheran Church assigned Odessa as the center of Ukrainian Diocese, and St. Paul’s Church — Odessa Lutheran Church — as the cathedral church of the Diocese. This decision was largely favored the church restoration prospect.
Already in 1993 authorities agreement in principle on the church ruins assignation in the community property was obtained and took place in 1997. In 2000-2002, construction work on the façades restoration and reconstruction of the parsonage as GELC (German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine) and Odessa GELC community administrative building with a hall consisting 190 seats was carried out.
But before restorers set to deal with the building of the church directly, was another three years. October 4, 2005, the solemn consecration of the building site took place and work on the reconstruction of the building was started. Proposed by «Ekostroy» reconstruction project (architect Alexander Golovanov) provided demolition of the dangerous apse and construction in its place a modern three-storey building to house the German national, cultural and religious center. In the preserved scope of the building was inscribed reduced, compared with the original, a hall for church services and organ recitals.
Façade restoration works
Interior restoration work
Differences between the reconstructed interior and the old one were quite striking. The lounge has a flat ceiling, in terms of a rectangle with sides of 18.5 to 21 meters and can accommodate about 600 people, while the former was designed for 1,200 people, including the gallery.
Most of the funds for the restoration of the temple were assigned by Lutheran community in Bavaria and individual patrons. It was collected 6.5 million euros to carry out major renovation of the Lutheran Church.
This amount was enough not only for the resettlement of decent interior of the church hall, but also on the equipment of the belfry with 4 bells. The bells were made on the old bell factory «Perner» in Passau on the Danube, Germany. The largest bell of Christ, weighing 1 ton is a gift of the partner community from Regensburg. Weight of the second bell of St. Peter’s Church is 480 kg. And the smallest, the fourth bell of Virgin Mary, weighing 280 kg, was made at the expense of the community of St. Paul’s in Odessa, who donated not only money but also valuable coins and jewelry.
Many donations were also received in the form of elements of decoration. Old, well-preserved church pews — it is a gift of the community of the church of St. Ulrich.
Organ with 2 manuals and a pedal for 27 registers of the well-known company, «Steinmeier» (Bavaria) was presented of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church community from Nuremberg. This musical instrument was made for the church of St. Cross in 1964, but the sound in the temple of Nuremberg community was moderate and the organ was biding its time for a long time in the storehouse. Acoustics of the Lutheran Church hall came to its sound much better.
At the altar there are wooden sculptures of saint apostles St. Peter and St. Paul and the crucifix in baroque, made in the XVIII century and donated to the Lutheran church by the Roman Catholic episcopacy of Regensburg.
The icon of the Virgin and Christ Child, presented Lutheran Church by the Orthodox community got a place of honor in the renovated church as well.
The decoration of the church interior fulfilled the artist Tobias Kammerer from Rottweil in Wurttemberg, already had a creative experience in Ukraine. In 2000, in Kiev, he carried on working in the church of St. Catherine, in 2002 — in the center of St. Paul in Odessa. In the decoration the artist expressed peculiarities of the Lutheran faith in bright colour. So, in the painting of the altar wall the sacrament of baptism was shown in the form of a blue water stripe, passing into the silver «stream» on the floor. Red stripes and circular free designs symbolize the blood of Christ and the sacrament of communion. On the ceiling blue colors depict a boat — a symbol of the Lutheran church as well.
The altar, baptismal font and pulpit of the new church made of cut and polished stones the demolished apse. Thus, the stone of the shrine inside the temple have something in common with the façade trim stone. The windows stained glasses in orange tints light up the temple with warm soft light in the daytime. Stained glasses move from darker to lighter approaching the altar.
In its structure, the interior of the new church of St. Paul reminds frankish margrave church hall. In contrast to the old, dark, due to an oak finish, the interior walls have been painted into light colours, which make the room look bigger and lighter.
Main entrance lobby
Galleries under the choir
Hall decoration pieces
In the left-side of the hall there is a small, but undoubtedly interesting exposition of items and documents related to the history of both the building and the Lutheran confession in general. Here one can see, in particular, the contents of the mortgage chest (damaged when removing from under the ground), opened by builders in the place using a perforator — a few German coins and mortgage deed of architect G. K. Shevrembrandt. Moreover, in the showcases of exposition ancient books on the history of German Reformed Church, collections of prayers and canticles, handwritten Bible, antique church plate, fragments of the old decoration of the temple, etc. found their place.
After nearly five years of construction and restoration work, in April 17, 2010, a solemn liturgy in honor of the consecration of the restored Church took place. This day opened up a new chapter in the history of one of the most beautiful buildings of Odessa.
Lutheran Church from distant field of view
Lutheran Church in the evening
References and Archives
- «The architects of Odessa». B. Pilyavsky
- «The Architecture of Odessa. Style and time». B. Pilyavsky
- «The buildings, structures, monuments of Odessa and architects». B. Pilyavsky
- Odessa Lutheran Church —Revival from the ruins
- Three Lives of St. Paul’s Church in Odessa
- An article on building in a blog Antique
- Website Odessastory. User gallery Brassl