In 2018, the project “Wayfarers’ Churches” involved 448 sanctuaries.
The precise number of visitors is impossible to establish – reports from the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church alone account for 800,000 in its churches.
The leader of the project Marko Kaldur writes about the past year: “It is delightful to note that the Wayfarers’ project has met with positive reception and, in a number of localities in Estonia, has built a bridge between the church and the local government.”
The transformations in thinking have led to a new situation, in which wayfarers expect to find sanctuaries open. Today’s circumstances are different from those depicted in Raimond Kaugver’s novel published in 1971, “Jumalat ei ole kodus”, where a little girl states matter-of-factly after trying the locked door of an ages-old church on Toompea hill: “God is not at home right now, is He, Mum?”
From this brochure and the web, any wayfarer can obtain information on sanctuaries that are open, where he or she can pause in quiet to pray, meditate, read the Bible or a prayer book.
The booklet you are holding in your hand guides you to the church buildings that have their doors open in the summer of 2019. The time we live in is full of changes, and we need repose – to be still and listen.
Any wayfarer or pilgrim is grateful for open doors to sanctuaries. Pilgrimages need not necessarily be made to faraway lands. The sanctuaries of Terra Mariana beckon pilgrims from both our own country and foreign lands. The general public has already grown accustomed to churches being accessible in non-worship hours, too, and takes it for granted.
I thank all those hundreds of people who in the beautiful summer season sacrifice their time to keep church doors open and receive wayfarers. Such people are a bridge between the wayfarer and the local church and community.
Gone are the times when congregations had to minister under fear of repressions, when going to church was an act of bravery. Church doors stood closed except during worship services. Wayfarers could only admire church buildings from outside.
Each parish has its own sanctuary, which, as a rule, is dedicated to a certain saint. The sanctuary helps to keep the locality alive and to develop people into what they have been called to be. The temple is not only a visible structure but also a spiritual edifice, as the apostle says: “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple?”
A temple in the sense of a sanctuary is a place where each wayfarer can worship God and share in His holiness.
The administrative reform has merged parishes into large rural municipalities. Yet the centre of a parish is still the church. Each church has its own story that the wayfarer will find exciting to explore.
The churches are open for wayfarers!
Let us enter the Lord’s gates with thanksgiving, let us step in with a song of praise!
Bishop, Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church