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The history of the Evangelical Church of A.C. in Košice

The beginnings of the Evangelical church of the A.C. in Košice are traced back to 1521. It’s because even back than had the steward of the towns kindergarten, Leonard Kox, applied Lutheran thoughts. Also, the town’s pastor Ján Henckel and Matej Dévay-Bíró, a former pupil of the Wittenberg University who maintained personal contact with Martin Luther and Filip Melanchton, had served the Lords Supper in both ways already in 1531. The inhabitants of Košice at the time consisted mainly of Slovaks, Germans and Hungarians. In 1534 most of the towns residents adhered to the reformation. At that time the Service was held according the Wittenberg order and in the towns main church, the Cathedral of St. Elizabeth, and also in the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel. During the recatholization an imperial order was issued in year 1671 that all churches the Lutherans haven’t built themselves must be returned to their original owners, that is the Catholic Church. The Lutherans were forced to build a wooden chapel outside the town’s walls. Unfortunately, during a great fire in the city this wooden chapel was also burned. Afterwards the town’s council gave the Lutherans the Chapel of St. Michal; however in 1711 they had to return it to the Catholics. The Lutherans had once again built three chapels on Žriedlova Street, each for the Slovak, Hungarian and German church. From the initiative of the German and Slovak members, the church had bought parcels on Mlynska Street. The court architect, Juraj J. Kitzling, was entrusted with the project development. The construction of the church building, the rectory and the community building took place between the years 1804 and 1816.

“One must consider the complete work as the most beautiful piece of lutheran classicism in all of Slovakia,“ wrote Ing. arch. Duchoňová.

The ground plan of the building is a type of central oval shaped body, from which four more section come out to create a cross form. The symmetrically composed three-part facade has an entrance on its central axis. The entire exterior is architectonically balanced, however, because of the neighboring buildings it cannot be completely appreciated.

Inside the church, above the entryway, is the main organ. On the far side there is the altar area beneath an arched, semicircular vault. Above the central section there is a high dome, decorated with cassettes with painted rose motifs. The dome is illuminated by a laterna at the very top and by semicircular windows at its base. The altar is characterized by classicist column architecture with statues of Faith, Hope and Love at its extension. The painting on the altar comes from the famous painters from Levoča, Jozef Czauczik and Ján Müller; painted in 1816. The cylindrical pulpit with a baldachin was also made in 1816. The baptistery with its lid also has a unique form. During the construction the Hungarian church joined the Germans and Slovaks and as a sign of good will they bought bells for the church. The building served all three churches and the preachers spoke all three languages.

The organ was brought from the old wooden churches and is roughly 100 years older than the new building itself. An expensive cross – dating back to 1735 – was brought in from the cemetery.

After the Second World War the church became bilingual – Slovak and Hungarian – because the Germans had went to Germany after the war. During the 20th century Košice was temporary the seat of the Bishop’s office for the Eastern District of the Lutheran church of A.C. and all bishops had active in the local church community, the last one being Július Filo sr.