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Kretingalė Evangelical Lutheran Church

Koordinatės: 55.834898, 21.194565
Objekto adresas: Klaipėdos Street 30, Kretingale, Lithuania
Savivaldybė: Bezirk Klaipėda

The date, when the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kretingalė was established, remains unclear to this day. According to the historians J. Yčas and B. Kviklis, it happened back in 1550, while German historians mention the mid. 17th c., when 72 villages, separated from Klaipėda parish, were rearranged into Kretingalė (Ger. Crottingen) Parish. The first wooden chapel in Kretingalė was built in 1652 and the son of the pastor Johann Lehman of Klaipėda Laukininkai Lutheran Church (also named Johann) was appointed as its pastor. Later he was succeeded by J. Liudovickis, M. Martinis, J. Griesingeris, Valentin Dach, the nephew of the famous Simon Dach, who was born in Klaipėda, and other pastors. Circa 1699 the chapel was equipped with a belfry with bells. In 1741 the chapel was demolished and replaced with a new 23.5 m long and 11.5 wide church, built of stones and bricks with a wooden belfry. The modern-day belfry was built in 1875. During the Seven Years' War the church was ravaged by the Russian army, one of the bells was stolen, later found and returned to the church in 1788. The church is built in the neo-Gothic style with some features, characteristic to historicism. Plastered field stone masonry walls are decorated with brick cornices and frames. The rectangular church has three naves, a rectangular sacristy, one large red-brick belfry and four stylised turrets on the south-western façade. The building features a span roof, as well as arched wall, door and window openings. The arches and matroneum are supported on wooden quadrilateral pillars. The interior of the 19th c. was decorated with an altar-pulpit, framed with Corinthian columns, two brass chandeliers, silver candle holders, paintings of apostles, as well as carved openwork baptismal table. The organ, purchased for 3 000 marks in 1895 was richly decorated in Rococo ornaments.
In 1851-1867 one of the residents of Kretingalė was the pastor Johann Ferdinand Kelch. He actively worked with the press of the Lithuanian Minor, translated numerous religious books from German into Lithuanian language, compiled hymnals and sermon books, and was a pioneer of journalism. In 1854 he established the preparatory course for the teachers' seminary in 1854. Kretingalė already had a Lutheran parish school, operating since the first half of the 18th c. The remaining school building was built in the second half of the 19th c.
The parish of Kretingalė was always Lithuanian. In 1848 more than 94% of the 4 027 parish members were Prussian Lithuanians. This proportion remained the same later as well with 5 000 Prussian Lithuanians out of 5 500 parish members in 1878 and 2 685 out of 3 000 in 1910. In the eve of the World War II this parish united more than two thousand believers. After the war soviet troops had turned the church into stables. When they moved out, the church was restored and the mass resumed. Soon the local authorities turned the church into a state farm warehouse. The unneeded organ was taken to Kretinga. The stone masonry fence was demolished in 1971 and Kretingalė town cemetery in the churchyard was bulldozed in 1974. Tombstones were piled and buried in a hole on the ground, while the churchyard became a gravel road. In several decades after the war the church premises were completely ravaged. The restoration of the church was supported by the state, businessmen, as well as honorary parish members, whose names were commemorated on a plate hanging on the wall in the church.
The small Evangelical Lutheran Parish of Kretingalė, uniting a mere 40 parish members was revived in 1988. During the same year it was officially registered, while the church was restored and consecrated on 10 August 1996. For this occasion it was equipped with a stationary mechanical organ, brought from Germany. At first the restored parish of Kretingalė was led by Reinholdas Moras, currently working as the pastor of Klaipėda Lutheran Parish, and after a year he was succeeded by the pastor Saulius Varanavičius, who continues to serve the parish to this day. S. Varanavičius also serves at the parishes of Skuodas, Mažeikiai and Būtingė. Currently Kretingalė Evangelical Lutheran community unites about 70 people and the mass takes place every second Sunday, because the parish shares the building with a catholic parish, served by the priest Jonas Kusas.
In 2012 Kretingalė Lutheran Church started hosting classical music festivals. In 2013 the community fenced the church yard with field stones and it is planned to build a fence and rearrange the landscaping in the future.

Submitted: Klaipėdos apskrities viešoji I.Simonaitytės biblioteka | http://www.klavb.lt/lt/

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  • Description:

    Kretingalės bažnyčia : [skaitmeninė nuotrauka] / Laurencija Budrytė-Ausiejienė. - Kretingalė, 2017.08.26. - 1 vaizdas

    Source: Laurencijos Budrytės-Ausiejienės asmeninis archyvas

    Publisher: Klaipėdos apskrities viešoji I. Simonaitytės biblioteka

    Contributor: Klaipėdos apskrities viešoji I. Simonaitytės biblioteka

    Type / format: Skaitmeninė nuotrauka / jpg

    Kretingalės bažnyčia