History of St. John’s Congregations
Until 1855 St. John’s Church had a German congregation, consisting largely of members of the nobility, city merchants and artisans. In January 1855 this was divided into a Country Congregation and a City Congregation.
St. John’s Church remained the joint property of both congregations, but the Rectory was given to the Country congregation. In 1855 the first pastor of Latvian origin, Kārlis Eduards Punšelis (1814-1882), commenced serving the Country congregation.
Further changes to the congregations occurred in 1892—around 4,000 Latvian members living in the city transferred to the Country Congregation, and a number of Germans living in country estates transferred from the Country Congregation to the City Congregation. Thus the two congregations of St. John’s Church became defined along ethnic lines—the Country Congregation was a Latvian congregation, while the City Congregation stayed primarily a German congregation, even though it had many Latvian members who lived in the city. The Country Congregation grew substantially and had 11,000 members by 1908.
In 1911 the Latvian Country Congregation decided to establish a Latvian City Congregation, and the Vidzeme Church Consistory approved this on 14 March 1912. The new congregation was the first Latvian congregation in Vidzeme to have the right to govern its own affairs. By 1914 it had 3213 members. St. John’s Church now had three congregations!
Most people of German origin repatriated to Germany 1938 and the German City Congregation ceased to be. In the same year the Latvian City Congregation transferred to another church in Cēsis, changed its name, and still exists today as the Cēsu St. Anne Congregation. The former Latvian Country Congregation now remains as the sole St. John’s Congregation.
Pastors serving at St. John’s Church
German Congregation Pastors
1855-1877 Johann von Holst
1877-1907 Gotthard Vierhuff
1907-1919 Hermann Bergengrün
1927-1938 Edmund Böttcher
Latvian City Congregation Pastors
1912-1919 Voldemārs Maldonis
1920-1924 Pēteris Apkalns (Vicar)
1924-1932 Arturs Voitkus
1933-1944 Arturs Piebalgs
1944-1956 Kārlis Rubenis (Vicar)
1954-1958 Pastor Plāmsis
1958 Jānis Janelsītis
In 1939 the name was changed to Cēsu Sv. Anna Congregation and it moved to another church
Latvian Country Congregation Pastors
1855-1882 Kārlis Eduards Punšelis
1883-1912 Georgs Feders
1913-1935 Pēteris Apkalns
1935-1944 Kristaps Hermanis
1944-1987 Kārlis Rubenis
1987-2000 The congregation was served by: Jānis Beģis, Jēkabs Dzeguze, Gints Hermanis, Aida Prēdele, Jānis Ginters, Guntars Ceipe, Viesturs Vāvere
2000-2004 Krists Kalniņš
Since 2004 Didzis Kreicbergs
St. John’s Congregation Today
Date of Birth: 08.12.77
Address: Rīgas iela 12-4, Cēsis
Languages: Latvian, Russian, English, German (with dictionary assistance)
Congregation Membership - 530
1. Sunday School (8-13 years)
2. Youth Group Meetings, Saturday at 4.00 pm
3. Welfare activities (Soup Kitchen, Men’s Shelter)
4. Church Choir
5. Church Vocal Ensemble
6. Home Bible Study Groups
7. Men’s Sport Group
1. with the Cēsis City Council in various projects,
2. with congregations from other confessions in the city,
3. with “sister congregations” in Tyreso, Sweden, Ahim, Germany and Saldus, Latvia
4. with Rīgas Vecās Sv. Ģertrūdes congregation and Sloka congregation.
Translated by Arnis Siksna