History of the Ingrian Lutheran Church
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria started in 1611 when Finnish
settlers moved into the area known as Ingermanland—an area bordered by
Lake Ladoga on the north, the Luga River on the south and Estonia on thewest (Narva was once the capitol of Ingermanland). When Peter the Great conquered the territory, the Lutheran Church already had a strong hold in
the area. Under Peter and subsequent Tsars the Lutheran Church continued to grow. By the time of the Communist Revolution, Lutherans owned over 1,700 Church buildings, over 2,000 schools, and many parsonages,
cemeteries, hospitals, orphanages and other concerns—it was the second largest Christian confession in Russia surpassed only by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Communism drastically changed the position of the Lutheran Church. While some Orthodox churches and monasteries remained open as cultural icons, and several others groups were allowed to operate as a way of undermining the overall “Orthodox” theology, the Lutheran Church was systematically all but wiped out. The last Lutheran service was officially held in 1939, by which time all churches had been closed and all the pastors shot or deported
along with many of their parishioners. Lutheranism survived only in the
kitchens and barns of the faithful.
In the late 1960s things began to thaw, and many Ingermanlanders were able
to return home from Siberian exile. They sought to reopen their churches,
and in 1969 they were granted permission to open a parish in Petrozavodsk,
Karelia (which was a separate province in the USSR). It was not until 1976
with pressure from Europe during trade talks, that the Communist
government agreed to open a parish on Russian territory—in Pushkin, a
suburb of St. Petersburg. The Ingrian parishes were put under the diocese of
In 1993 the Ingrian Church became “autocephalous.” At present, the
Lutheran Church of Ingria has over 75 registered parishes and over 100
preaching stations, grouped into 7 deaneries and spread over 6 time zones.
The official language of the Church is Russian, although worship services
are held in Finnish, German, Estonian, Latvian, English and other
English worship services began in 1994 with the influx of Lutheran
missionaries from America but were discontinued when the Lutheran
Church-Missouri Synod closed its mission in 2003. In late 2004, at the
request of a local pastor, services were re-instituted at St. Michael’s on
Vasilievsky Island. The English service has since moved to several different
locations before finally coming to St. Anne’s Lutheran Church in 2014.
“Our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is
born from what is heard, acknowledges the gifts received with eager
thankfulness and praise. Music is drawn into this thankfulness and praise,
enlarging and elevating the adoration of our gracious giver God.
Saying back to Him what He has said to us, we repeat what is most true and
sure. Most true and sure is His Name, which He put upon us with the water
of our Baptism. We are His. This we acknowledge at the beginning of the
Divine Service. Where His Name is, there is He. Before Him we
acknowledge that we are sinners, and we plead for forgiveness. His
forgiveness is given us, and we, freed and forgiven, acclaim Him as our great
and gracious God as we apply to ourselves the words He has used to make
Himself known to us.
The rhythm of our worship is from Him to us, and then from us back to
Him. He gives His gifts, and together we receive and extol them. We build
one another up as we speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual
songs. Our Lord gives us His body to eat and His blood to drink. Finally His
blessing moves us out into our calling, where His gifts have their fruition.
How best to do this we may learn from His Word and from the way His
Word has prompted His worship through the centuries. We are heirs of an
astonishingly rich tradition. Each generation receives from those who went
before and, in making that tradition of the Divine Service its own, adds what
best may serve in its own day the living heritage and something new.”
Dr. Norman Nagel, Preface to Lutheran Worship
A Short History of St. Anne’s Church
St. Anne’s congregation was founded in 1611 in the Swedish city of Nienshantz, on
the banks of the River Okhta where it joined the Neva. It moved to its present
location shortly after St. Petersburg was founded. The existing building is the oldest
Lutheran church building in St. Petersburg, built from July 20, 1774, to October 24,
In the latter half of the 19th century Russian-born pastors, educated at Derptskiy
University, served the church. Services were regularly attended by 1,500
parishioners, and by 1885 the church had 12,109 official members. Besides regular
worship services, the parish ran a school, almshouse, orphanage, home for girls,
hospital and farm for wayward women.
After the Communist Revolution, St. Anne’s became the central parish of
Petrograd-Leningrad and continued to function under the growing Communist
repression. The parish opened an Evangelical Lutheran Seminary in 1925. In 1930,
Evgeni Bachman became pastor after graduating from the Seminary. However, in
January 1934, he was arrested and that same year the seminary was closed. It later
became known as the seminary of martyrs—all those who served or attended (even
those found on lists of prospective students) were subjected to repressive measures.
By the beginning of WWII no functioning Lutheran churches remained in the city,
even though in 1917 there had been close to 30 churches and chapels.
The church continued, even though the arrest of one pastor followed another. The
government finally closed the church on August 1, 1935. In 1939, the church was
remodeled into a cinema by adding a portion to the back of the building. The
“Spartak” cinema became a popular place during the years of the USSR.
Unfortunately, the inner decor was destroyed during this remodeling, and valuable
pictures and statues were removed.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the church started to resurrect. Worship services
at St. Anne’s restarted in 1992 even though the city still owned the building. It was
used as a house of pleasure, hosting rock concerts and sporting a bar, slot machines,
and other sorts of shows, despite protests of the parishioners, who stopped worship
services in 1997. The congregation, however, successfully petitioned for the return
of their building in 2002. However, early in the morning on the day when the
building was to be returned, December 6, a fire was mysteriously started that
destroyed the roof and the interior of building. Since the building is a historical
monument, the city agreed in 2008 to repair the roof and facade (it had become an
eyesore), and late in 2013 the burned carcass was returned to the Lutheran Church.
Now St. Anne’s is once again home to a congregation of believers: services are held
weekly in English and in Russian. In addition to worship services, the growing
congregation is seeking to use the popularity of the building to share the Good
News of God’s salvation through concerts and events.