The Orthodox Church of St Nicholas

Sestdiena, 21.06.2014, 07:29

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The Orthodox Church of St Nicholas has existed in Tukums for more than 160 years. The first service was held in 1852, while the church itself was built between 1846 and 1866.

The Russian community in Tukums began to appear in the late 18th century, when the Duchy of Kurzeme and Zemgale were absorbed into the Russian Empire, and Russian civil servants and military officers entered the city.

Historical sources show that people of many nationalities belonged to the Orthodox congregation. What is more, most of them have always been Latvians. People converted to Orthodoxy in large part because of the educational policies of the Russian Empire – the opportunity to obtain a free education. There was also the possibility to obtain land, perhaps in Russia itself.

There were some 500 members of the Orthodox congregation before World War II. The number shrank substantially during the Soviet occupation. The psalm reader and secretary of the congregation, Pavils Nikka, resigned in 1940. He worked for a bank and was afraid of losing his job.

The number of Russian speakers in Tukums increased after World War II, when a Russian military airfield was installed. Most of the military personnel and workers were atheists. Christians hid their allegiance to the church and attended services elsewhere where no one knew them.

Services at the church are today attended by an average of 80 congregation members today.