Saeima committee passes legislative project for the transfer of St.Peter’s Church to LELB

On Tuesday, 9 November, Latvian Saeima’s Education, Culture and Science Committee passed for the second reading a legislative draft that provides for the transfer of Riga’s St. Peter’s Church to Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church (LELB) and Riga St. Peter’s Church Foundation of LELB German St. Peter’s Community.
As reported to Saeima’s press-service, the foundation will be provided with ownership rights over Riga St.Peter’s Church.
The committee’s chairman Arvils Ašeradens explains that deputies had to make «balanced and responsible decision», making a choice between two potential legal owners – Riga municipal administration and the foundation created by LELB and LELB German community.
«Riga St. Peter’s Church is an important symbol. When making a decision, it is important to balance all interests, considering Riga St.Peter’s Church was built, maintained and existed as a church owned by the Lutheran community before WWII. It is important for the church to continue serving as a religious temple. At the same time, it cannot be allowed to lose its role as a monument of culture and history and a location of events,» said Ašeradens, stressing the issue regarding ownership of the church was previously reviewed by the committee’s work group.
According to the assessment of the state of Riga St.Peter’s Church by National Cultural Heritage Board, it can be concluded that the church is in critical state and is in dire need of restoration, said Ašeradens, adding that the church is a national cultural monument that is also included on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage List.
The objective of the suggested legislative draft is ensuring the protection and preservation of Riga St.Peter’s Church. By listing ownership writes for the church foundation, t is also planned to add a note in the Land Book that this particular piece of real estate is a national level cultural monument.
It is planned to outline in the law a duty for the foundation to ensure restoration and preservation of the cultural monument, as well as ensure public accessibility of Riga St. Peter’s Church. The foundation will also have other responsibilities, including the development and coordination with the Ministry of Culture a concept for the preservation, restoration and use of the real estate property, as well as submit to the ministry annual reports.
The legislative draft also provides regulations regarding the use of the territory surrounding Riga St.Peter’s Church. Regulations will include a prohibition to build new structures within the territory surrounding the church. Financing for the restoration of the church is planned to be attracted and provided by the foundation. Money acquired through economic operations will be allowed to be used only for restoration and maintenance of the church.
For the new legislative draft to come to force, it needs to go through the second and third reading in the Saeima.