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The year is drawing to a close. In the Church of the Cross (Krusta draudze) and in the Liepāja Diaconal Centre, many things were finally able to take place again after the corona-related restrictions; the congregation, consisting of 95 parishioners, continues the work begun by Pastor Martin Urdze undeterred. One of his impulses is particularly effective: the assumption of joint responsibility for a successful parish life. The pastorate is still vacant. Karina Krievina, the director of the diaconal centre, and a small team with her organise the daily work in the congregation as well as church services, projects and other events.
The legal disputes with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (LELB) continue. This year there was a success: the Latvian Supreme Court decided that the designation Church of the Cross is legal and will not be withdrawn, as demanded by LELB.
The next court date is 14.02.2023, when the premises of the church and the centre will be negotiated. These are claimed by LELB. Against the background of the uncertain outcome, urgently needed investments on the part of the congregation, such as the repair of the church roof or also the repair of the defective lift, are suspended for the time being. The content of the work is not affected by this.
The networking of the congregation via Zoom has long since become a matter of course; three of the weekly Sunday services took place in this way – mostly on our own, sometimes also with a guest preacher. Every Sunday afternoon there was a devotion with agape meal in the church. An attendance service was organised once a month, also with substitute pastors.
Also in Ilgi (a large facility for the elderly and disabled in a suburb of Liepaja), services were held several times this year with about 40 people attending. A small team from the congregation, consisting of lectors and musicians, takes care of this spiritual service on site.
The care of the old people’s home Ganibu iela in Liepaja has been somewhat neglected in recent months. However, the people are in the focus and in the coming year pastoral care will be offered there again.
Various groups continue to meet in the diaconal centre, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, the senior citizens’ circle, the Bible discussion group, people with mental/cognitive and physical disabilities. The group of wheelchair users has formed its own association this year with the support of the congregation and is campaigning for more accessibility in the city.
Every week, the “Soul Anchor” group meets to give support to people with psychological, but also physical problems. A central theme was guidance in coping with stress. Afterwards, there is a joint lunch.
There is volunteer reinforcement in the clothing chamber, so that it is now open three days a week.
Every week, the parish council also meets for devotions and work meetings.
The sharp increase in the price of wood this year presents the congregation with a new challenge, as all the premises are heated with wood. There was compensation from the Latvian state for the increased electricity costs.
Two funded measures were also implemented this year:
The “Workshop of Talents 2022” supported by the City of Liepaja and the project “Dzirkstele” (small flame) by Aktion Mensch.
The target group for the “Workshop of Talents” were people with special needs, such as older unemployed people and isolated pensioners. There was a range of creative activities: Designing with mosaic stones, weaving and art therapy. There was also a rehabilitation sports group. Refugees from Ukraine were also included here to give them a little distraction and companionship.
The second project is about guidance for stress management. With different methods of painting, scents and music, there was a lot of space for self-awareness.
The problems of people who are already in need of help have increased this year. This is noticeable both on the material level (some people now save on their bus ticket to the Diakonie) and psychologically.
For years, support has been given to individuals who can no longer cope with normal benefits. Karina Krievina describes it like this: “Special people need special care.”
This includes a former pastor and poet who is mentally ill. – His book of poems will be published in the coming weeks.
This spring, an Open Church Day was held in Liepaja. The Kreuzkirche congregation also opened its doors. A colourful programme with music and readings took place all day. Lunch was served for the visitors in the garden next to the church. People came in and out all day. There were also many visitors from other congregations.
This autumn, the traditional apple festival of the congregation could finally take place again. It was a little less well attended than in previous years; but there were plenty of apples and jam, other fruit and vegetables, as well as a lottery, an auction and other attractions.
In the last weeks of the year, a special campaign is dedicated to the people in Ukraine: gloves and socks are knitted, felted, collected and brought to Ukraine via a committed parishioner.