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Protestants

Protestants

Protestantism originated in Europe in the 16th century as a result of splitting from the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation. Lutheranism is the oldest branch of Protestantism in Moscow. The first Lutherans appeared in Russia at the same time as confession itself, around the 16th century. These were artisans, doctors and merchants who came from north-western Europe to become part of the court of Moscow’s tsars. There are also churches and communities of Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Pentecostalists and Evangelical Christians in Moscow. The growth of their congregations was especially noticeable in the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

LUTHERAN CHURCHES

The first Lutheran church in Moscow was constructed in 1576. Sixty-five years later, the community experienced a schism (which started with a quarrel between the wives of military officers and merchants) and split in two in the 1640s. The military built a church of its own in PokrovkaRussian: Покровка Street, so now there were two Lutheran churches in the city. These caught fire a number of times, their parishes often changed locations, yet the churches remained active until the 1930s. The congregation mostly consisted of Germans and to a lesser extent Swedes and Finns. Evangelical-Lutheran Sts. Peter and Paul’s CathedralRussian: Yevangelichesko-lyuteranskiy kafedral’ny sobor Svyatykh Petra i Pavla or Евангелическо-лютеранский кафедральный собор Святых Петра и Павла at Bld. 10, 7/10 Starosadsky LaneRussian: Starosadskiy pereulok or Старосадский переулок is the only early Lutheran church that survives.

St. Peter and Paul’s Church was built in 1903–1905 on top of the foundation of Lopukhins’ Estate old manor house. The church was originally consecrated as a Lutheran cathedral. It was shut down and nationalised in 1937, like many churches in the Soviet Union. The church first housed a public cinema and then the DiafilmRussian: Диафильм Production Studio. The church was returned to the congregation in the 1990s. Divine services are held in both Russian and German every Sunday.

A chapel designed by Vladimir Rudanovsky appeared in the Vvedenskoe CemeteryRussian: Vvedenskoe kladbische or Введенское кладбище (1 Nalichnaya StreetRussian: Nalichnaya ulitsa or Наличная улица). It was originally intended as a burial place for Moscow Catholics and Lutherans. It was built in 1912 to hold funeral services for the confessions that were part of the cemetery beautification committee: the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Catholic Church (both the Polish and French branches), Calvinism, and Anglicanism. Vvedenskoe Cemetery was referred to as NemetskoeRussian: Немецкое (‘foreign’) or InovercheskoeRussian: Иноверческое (‘non-Christian’) for quite a long time. The chapel was consecrated as a Holy Trinity Church in 1994 and is known today as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of IngriaRussian: Yevangelichesko-lyuteranskaya tserkov’ Ingrii or Евангелическо-лютеранская церковь Ингрии, or the Finnish Church.

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BAPTIST CHURCHES

The Union of Russian Baptists was established in 1884. In 1944, it merged with the Evangelical Christians to form the All-Union of the Evangelical Christians-BaptistsRussian: Vsesoyuznyi soyuz evangelskikh khristian-baptistov or Всесоюзный союз евангельских христиан-баптистов (ECBRussian: ВСЕХБ), commonly referred to as Christians-Baptists. The ECB community increased in size in the 1990s, as the Soviet Union collapsed and the borders opened. According to the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, 28 Baptist communities are active in Moscow today, yet very few have churches of their own.

Nowadays, the Moscow Central Church of Evangelical Christians-BaptistsRussian: Moskovskaya tsentral’naya tserkov’ yevangel’skikh khristian-baptistov or Московская центральная церковь евангельских христиан-баптистов is located in the centre of the city (3 Trekhsvyatitelsky LaneRussian: Trekhsvyatitel’skiy pereulok or Трехсвятительский переулок), Kitay-gorodRussian: Китай-город metro station). It occupies a building that was transformed from a residential house into a space for the Reformed Church in the 1860s. The Reformers left Russia after the socialist revolution of 1917, and the building was handed to Evangelical Christians. However, they didn’t own it for long, as the church was nationalised in 1937 in order to be used as a dormitory. In 1965, the Christian-Baptist community relocated the inhabitants to individual flats it had purchased using its own funds. The church contains a unique late-19th-century pipe organ built by Ernst Röver (an organ builder widely known in Germany), which is quite well-known. Many authentic oak benches dating back to 1867 are still in the church hall.

The church in Trekhsvyatitelsky Lane was the only Baptist church in Moscow for a long time. This is why, when the community bought a large block of land in southern Moscow and constructed another church, the new church was named simply the Second Moscow Church of Evangelical Christian-BaptistsRussian: Vtoraya Moskovskaya tserkov’ yevangel’skikh khristian-baptistov or Вторая Московская церковь евангельских христиан-баптистов (12A Varshavskoe HighwayRussian: Varshavskoe shosse or Варшавское шоссе).

The Christians-Baptist community also boasts another large church located in BibirevoRussian: Бибирево, a northern suburb of Moscow (11 Leskova StreetRussian: ulitsa Leskova or улица Лескова). Called GolgothaRussian: Голгофа, it has an interesting architectural design. The parish was formed in the early 1990s, but the church itself was not completely constructed until 2010. Divine services are held in Russian, English and Tajik.

There are two other churches, one in ZelenogradRussian: Зеленоград (Bld. 1144, Zelenograd, Moscow, near Filaretovskaya StreetRussian: Filaretovskaya ulitsa or Филаретовская улица) and the other near VoykovskayaRussian: Войковская metro station (Blagaya Vest ChurchRussian: tserkov’ “Blagaya vest’” or церковь «Благая весть») at 25Zh Klary Tsetkin StreetRussian: ulitsa Klary Tsetkin or улица Клары Цеткин).

EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS

As has already been mentioned, Evangelical Christians merged with Baptists in 1944. However, the 1990s saw the emergence of independent associations of Evangelical Christians. According to the Union of Evangelical-Christian Churches, there are six active churches of this doctrine in Moscow. The Tushino Evangelical ChurchRussian: Tushinskaya Yevangel’skaya tserkov’ or Тушинская евангельская церковь, probably the largest one in the city, can be found at 29 Vasiliya Petushkova StreetRussian: ulitsa Vasiliya Petushkova or улица Василия Петушкова, near TushinskayaRussian: Тушинская metro station. In 2000, the community purchased a former factory community centre. The All-Russian Union of Evangelical ChristiansRussian: Vserossiyskiy soyuz evangelskikh khristian or Всероссийский союз евангельских христиан now coordinates the centre.

PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES

Russia’s earliest Pentecostal institutions were first built in Finland, which was then part of the Russian Empire, in 1907. Soon they came to Saint Petersburg and spread around nearly the whole country. A great role was played by Ivan Voronaev, who managed to merge isolated communities into the unified Pentecostal Movement. Pentecostal prayer houses were closed down in the Soviet period as part of the national antireligious campaign. It was not until 1944, when Evangelical Christians merged with Baptists, that Pentecostalists were allowed to gather for divine services in prayer houses again.

The first convention of Pentecostalists took place in 1990, right after the fall of the Soviet Union. There are five Pentecostal communities in Moscow today, according to the Russian Church of Evangelical Christians. A few parishes hold services in Zhivoy Rodnik ChurchRussian: tserkov’ “Zhivoy rodnik” or церковь «Живой родник» at 31A Fabritsiusa StreetRussian: ulitsa Fabritsiusa or улица Фабрициуса, in the north-west of Moscow. This is also the headquarters of the Russian Church of Evangelical Christians. The community bought this former kindergarten from the Moscow government in 1995. Another church with a building of its own is called RosaRussian: «Роса» (Bld. 2, 38 Krasnobogatyrskaya StreetRussian: Krasnobogatyrskaya ulitsa or Краснобогатырская улица).

SDA CHURCHES

Just as did the Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists came to Russia in the late 19th century. The earliest community consisting of Crimean Germans was at first thought of as a heretical sect. Adventists were only allowed to hold divine services openly in 1906, when confession was officially classified as a type of Baptism, already legal in Russia.

Adventists were persecuted by Soviet authorities alongside other religious communities. They recommenced their activities in the 1990s, when several SDA communities began to gather in rented cinema halls and cultural centres. The first prayer house of Adventists was constructed in the north-east of Moscow (3 Krasnoyarskaya StreetRussian: Krasnoyarskaya ulitsa or Красноярская улица), followed by another one at Bld. 3, 9 Nagatinskaya StreetRussian: Nagatinskaya ulitsa or Нагатинская улица. Prayer houses can also be found in Klimovsk, Podolsk and Lobnyacities in Moscow Oblast. The central SDA community has no prayer house of its own yet and holds its meetings in the building at 3 Trekhsvyatitelsky Lane, which is owned by Baptists.

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