Michael M. Miller
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota State University Libraries
1201 Albrecht Blvd.
Fargo ND 58105 - 5599
Permit me to add a specific request to the report from Odessa that I have presented to you and your friends of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC). I was very impressed by the commitment of descendants of Germans from Russia and Ukraine in the United States, which is evident in the many ways numerous associations are working to preserve the cultural heritage of their ancestors. For this reason, I am approaching you with a request for your support in the reconstruction of the old Lutheran Kathedrale der Schwarzmeerdeutschen by a one-off financial contribution.
Reconstruction of St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Odessa means preserving the most important cultural monument that Germans have left in what, historically, used to be the South of Russia. Funding for this major project, the realization of which is estimated at EUR 6.4 million, is covered by Church Tax funds and donations from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria (ELCB), subsidies from the German and Bavarian governments, and donations from Martin-Luther-Bund, Gustav-Adolf-Werk and other Lutheran churches in Germany.
In the old days, St Paul’s had a beautiful set of bells. During the Revolution, it was thrown from the tower and destroyed. In 2002, two new, small bells were donated to the parish center next door. Next year, further bells are to be added to complete the set.
We are looking for funding partners to assist this small Lutheran church in the Ukraine that we are twinned with and, specifically, to fund new bells for St Paul’s.
According to the information we have received, the price for new bells would amount to about EUR 10,000, 13,000, 17,000 and 22,000 respectively. This includes shipping and installation.
Bishop Friedrich has approached the city of Regensburg (which is twinned with Odessa) about funding the largest of the bells. We hope that descendants of German business people and professors originating from Odessa, who now live in Germany and Liechtenstein, may also participate in funding this effort. Would you be willing to promote the idea of US descendants of Black Sea and Bessarabian Germans funding another bell (completely or partially)?
I could imagine that you and many of your friends are touched to see the old German St Paul’s Church, in the home of your ancestors, brought back to life, and once again offering space for the worship of God and at the same time offering a new home for German culture in this region. Would it not be a good thing if one of the bells rang above the roofs of Odessa in memory of your ancestors and sounded its greeting across to the Orthodox cathedral, which has also been rebuilt?
You may be aware that traditionally, bells are adorned with the names of their donors and a dedication of their choice. In due course, we can discuss this aspect also. Providing that the necessary financial commitments are obtained, the bells will be cast early next year. Martin-Luther-Bund, which is focusing all its fundraising efforts this year on interior work at St. Paul’s, could process your donation. Another possibility would be to transfer your contribution to the government-approved Stiftung Odessa (Odessa Foundation), which was specifically set up by Bavaria’s Lutheran church to find donors for St Paul’s.
I do hope that you will take a favorable view of my request and would be delighted to receive a positive response.
With very best wishes to you and your friends,
Dr Claus-Jürgen Roepke
President of Martin-Luther-Bund
ELCB and DELKU Liaison Person for Odessa