In the sixteenth century, the Reformation ideology reached the farthest corners of Europe. The religious landscape (Kingdoms, principalities, cities) willing to adopt the reformed liturgical order and the Augsburg Confession of Faith did not immediately change. Churches, which served the local community for centuries, became Evangelical-Lutheran. Increasingly, more and more churches were erected with architectural layouts that suited the liturgical and practical needs of the Lutheran congregations.
These churches created extensive educational and diaconal infrastructure. They also erected many cemeteries. The same infrastructural concerns existed throughout the Polish territory or regions which, after undergoing repeated ownership changes, became integrated into the Republic of Poland. Today there is an active Evangelical-Lutheran Church in nearly every Polish city. However, many churches which once served Lutherans are now places of worship for Roman Catholics or other denominations. The memory of the ownership of many church buildings was sometimes forgotten over the years. This is evidenced by the abandoned necropolis and ruined Lutheran church buildings that were converted, during or after the World War II, into warehouses and other buildings.
Polish religious structure changed with the catastrophe of World War II. Those Lutheran churches which did not find the new owners fell into disrepair. They remain as only a shadow of the once beautiful history, encompassing both the spiritual and social life of many. Polish historical advocates, local authorities, pupils from various schools and non-governmental organizations in their respective communities, join voluntarily in the restoration process. Together they work to revive old cemeteries. They strive to memorialize the historical temples and other sacred buildings that previously served Lutherans. They try to exhume the vicissitudes of entire communities and the memories of eminent personalities, who are sometimes known only by their street names.
In anticipation of upcoming celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Poland launched the second part of the online project: “The Decade of Reformation”. This project, part two, introduces a historical web-based application which is a key complement to the website: www.luter2017.pl . Its purpose is twofold: primarily to document as many past and present Evangelical structures (churches, cemeteries, congregation houses, chapels, etc.) as possible; secondly it documents people who greatly contributed not only to the Church of Jesus Christ, but also the fellow-townsmen living in their small homelands.
Our desire, until 2017, is to create as extensive a database as possible. This would be used not only by historians and enthusiasts, but also by tourists interested in the multicultural and multi-religious heritage of our country. We invite all Internet users to send materials through the application form on our website. Kindly help us co-create the historical documentation of “The Lutheran Heritage” in Poland.