Parafia Ewangelicko-Augsburska św. Jana w Grudziądzu

Protestantism in Grudziądz goes back

to 1524, when Erhard von Queiss of Kwidzyn, the bishop of Pomesania,

who stayed here on his trip, preached the first Evangelical sermon

in the parish church. He was invited to do this by starost Jan

Sokołowski. In 1552-1553, doctor Joachim Mörlin, a praised

theologian of Königsberg, the future pastor in Brunswick and,

following his return to the Ducal Prussia, the bishop of Sambia,

preached sermons, probably at the Holy Spirit church. In 1563, the

town officially accep¬ted Lutheranism and appointed Eberhard Sperber

its pastor, as confirmed by the royal privilege of King Sigismund

August (1569). At that time, three muni¬cipal churches became

Evangelical, an Evangelical school having already been in place

since 1540, and a pastor for Poles was appointed in 1568 (the

majority of citizens being German). During the reign of King

Sigismund III Vasa, the Counter-Reformation resulted in the churches

being returned to Catholics in 1598 and the citizens started their

struggle for the right to worship, in accordance with the royal

privilege – a struggle which lasted almost two centuries. Services

were held at St. George’s cemetery chapel outside the town walls, at

the castle, at a granary and finally at the town hall; but even here

Evangelicals would experience persecution and accusations from the

Catholic parish priest and the Jesuits. Charges included preaching

sermons in Polish, and not exclusively in German. When Grudziądz was

occupied by Swedes during 1656-1659, the Protestants were given the

parish church, deserted by the parish priest. After the war with

Sweden, the parish church returned to its prior owners, while the

Evangelicals started rebuilding the town hall that was burnt down

when the Polish army re-conquered the town. The generous donations

and bequests by the local Protestant community and those of Toruń

and Gdansk contributed to the new Baroque interior of the chapel.

Grudziądz has seen many well-known and highly-praised clergymen and

teachers including Benedikt Morgenstern (1588-1599), a distinguished

though controversial representative of orthodox Lutheranism, who

fostered schools; Jan Barawski (or Zbarawski, 1618-1624), a Latin

poet and preacher in ordinary to Anna Vasa, Princess Royal, who

preached at her residence in lirodnica; Severin Rosentreter

(1632-1665), who participated in the famous Colloquium Charitativum,

an ecumenical “brotherly conversation” of Polish Catholics,

Lutherans and Calvinists, in To run in 1645; Otto Matthesius

(1656-1659), a student of Jesuit schools in Vilnius and Lutheran

universities in Koningsberg and Rostock; Jan Herbinius (1677-1679),

a praised theologian, teacher and humanitarian; Jan Moneta

(1692-1696), the author of a Polish grammar manual; and Jakob

Schmidt, who published the revised version of the Holy Bible of

Gdansk, a translation of the Bible into Polish, in the 18th century.

Following the seizure of Grudziądz by Prussia during the first

partition of Poland (1772), in 1785 a small church at the Market

Square was consecrated and services were held for some time in

Polish there. Its construction was largely funded by King Frederick

II. In 1896-1898, this church, which was now too small, was replaced

by a large parish church at the present-day Mickiewicza Street. The

Evangelicals dominated in terms of number. Apart from that church,

they had a large garrison church (built in 1897-1900 and destroyed

during World War Two) and planned to erect a third one. The modern

Parish Hall and the City Mission housed large rooms. There were also

several charities and cemeteries. At that time, almost all

Evangelicals were German, while Polish Lutheran traditions in

Grudziądz were almost forgotten.

The situation changed radically in 1920, when Grudziądz returned to

Poland. The majority of German citizens left, and Catholic Poles

quickly became the majority. Those who arrived from other parts of

Poland included Polish members of the Evangelical – Augsburg Church,

whose authorities were based in Warsaw. On 31 May 1923, Rev. Józef

Mamica from Poznań, an army chaplain, held the first Polish service

for the army at the German Evangelical Union church. The local

parish council objected to any further services, arguing that

civilians were present; as a result, subsequent services were held

at the officers’ mess room on an irregular basis. In October 1930,

Rev. Jerzy Kahane from Bydgoszcz started seeking an organisational

framework for Polish Evangelicals, holding the first service for

civilians on 7 April 1931. Owing to the friendly attitude of Rev.

Reinhold Dieball, until 1939 these services were held at the Union

church at Mickiewicza Street, and were even announced during German

services.

via Parafia Ewangelicko-Augsburska św. Jana w Grudziądzu.

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