Azerbaijan Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Azerbaijan, go to the Religious Records page.

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Of the nation's religious minorities, the estimated 280,000 Christians (3.1%)are mostly Russian and Georgian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic (almost all Armenians live in the break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh).[96] In 2003, there were 250 Roman Catholics. Other Christian denominations as of 2002 include Lutherans, Baptists and Molokans. There is also a small Protestant community. Azerbaijan also is home to members of the Jehovah's Witnesses communities.[1]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different denominations, different time periods, and practices of different record keepers will effect how much information can be found in the records. This outline will show the types of details which might be found (best case scenario):

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

In Catholic and Anglican records, children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth. Other religions, such as Baptists, baptized at other points in the member's life. Baptism registers might give:

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • occasionally, names of grandparents
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • birth dates and places for the bride and groom
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • parents' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • deceased's birth date and place
  • parents' names, or at least the father's name



How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Watch for digitized copies of church records to be added to the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on the records of Azerbaijan.
b. Click on Places within Azerbaijan and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

You will probably need to write to or email the national archives, the diocese, or local parish priests to find records. Use Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters. Then use a Azerbaijani translation service.

Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to a Local Parish[edit | edit source]

Earlier records can be held at the diocese, with more recent records still kept in the local parish. To locate the mailing address or e-mail address for a diocese or local parish, consult:

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Catholic Church in Azerbaijan is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. There are about 570 local Catholics in the country as of 2016. Azerbaijan is covered entirely by a single Apostolic Prefecture – Apostolic Prefecture of Baku – since 2011. The community is served by seven Salesian priests and two friars. In addition, there is a mission of the Missionaries of Charity.[2]

Armenian Apostolic Church Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Many Armenian Apostolic Church records for places now located within the borders of modern Azerbaijan can be found in the Family History Library Catalog arranged by their historic jurisdictions from the Russian Empire era. The majority of modern Azerbaijan covered the former Russian Empire provinces of Baku and Elisavetpol. Parts of the former Ėrivan province are also controlled by modern Azerbaijan.

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Baptist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

For a detailed history, see Gospel in Azerbaijan.

Georgian Orthodox Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Jehovah's Witnesses Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Due to government restrictions, writing to Jehovah's Witnesses organizations is problematic.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

There are over 600 of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Azerbaijan who meet weekly in six congregations. For the Memorial of the death of Jesus (the only religious observance held by Jehovah’s Witnesses), 1,523 persons attended in 2007. Authorities registered Jehovah’s Witnesses in Azerbaijan on December 22, 1999. In harmony with changes in the law, their religious organization was reregistered on February 7, 2002. In spite of their being legally registered, Jehovah’s Witnesses are experiencing difficulties exercising their religious freedom to obtain religious literature and to gather together for religious meetings.[3]

Lutheran Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The establishment of the Lutheran Church on the territory of present-day Azerbaijan is closely linked to the migration of German settlers invited to Russia by Catherine II at the end of the 18th century. In the early 1800s, the Southern Caucasus, including Northern Azerbaijan, was conquered by the Russian Empire and German colonists continued to settle in this region throughout the 19th century. Around 1819, the tsarist authorities moved about a thousand of them to Helenendorf and Annenfeld (currently Khanlar and Shamkir). The colonists of the first migration wave were engaged in various agricultural activities: livestock breeding, crop farming, horticulture, wine-growing and viticulture and so on. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the oil and industrial boom attracted many foreigners in Baku, including a second wave of German businessmen, industrialists, engineers, architects, physicians, scientists, teachers,etc.

The Lutheran community consisted primarily of German peasants living in eight rural colonies in the north, educated immigrants in Baku and other cities but also Swedes. Religion occupied an integral part of the colonists' life. All the German migrants who went to the Russian Empire were granted freedom of religion and the possibility to build churches. They were able to invite pastors and clergymen to serve their community. A prayer house was built in Helenendorf as early as the 1820s and a parsonage in 1834. The first stone of the church of Helenendorf was laid in 1854 and the consecration of the place of worship took place three years later. The Lutheran Church in Annenfeld was built in 1909. The colonists were rigorous in their religious observances, including regular church attendance. They had their own schools and religion was one of the mandatory subjects.

In 1920, Azerbaijan was occupied by the Soviet Army and became afterwards a Soviet republic. The new authorities started taking harsh measures. By 1937, the Lutheran churches in Baku and in the German settlements had all been closed. Pastors were accused of so-called anti-Soviet activities as well as having connections with and receiving help from Germany. According to the archives of the NKVD, seven Lutheran pastors were arrested for espionage during the 1936-1938 period. Before the start of WW II, all the Lutheran parishes had been left without any pastor. The church was separated from the state and from schools and religious classes were abolished in German schools. Anti-religious propaganda was carried out by numerous Soviet organizations. The Lutheran community in Baku ceased to exist in 1936 but the church was not destroyed. Parishioners think it was spared because of its beautiful organ and it could be used as a concert hall. The German colonists had no other choice than to perform their religious rites and to provide religious education in their own homes.

In 1941, Germany started invading the Soviet Union and from 15th to 20th October, the German population of Azerbaijan was deported to Kazakhstan as part of a wider wave or "resettlement" of Germans living in the USSR. They were not rehabilitated until 1989. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, most Soviet Germans immigrated to Germany. Only a few families returned to Azerbaijan. The church which was confiscated by the Soviet regime in the 1930s remained state property after independence and is now a Philarmonic Center belonging to the Ministry of Culture.

In November 1994, an initiative by a German woman to teach languages in Baku led to the revival of the Lutheran community. There were then about 80 members. Four years later, their number rose to 160 (120 adults and 40 children). The attendance of Sunday's religious services is about 30-40 people, mainly women. The building is rented to the Lutheran congregation according to their needs for the duration of their religious activities. This small community could not afford to be the owner of this big historic building and to maintain it in good condition.

In 2001, President Heydar Aliyev signed a decree allocating 1 million manats (1 million EUR) to the renovation of the church. The Lutheran community in Baku has first been served by pastors from Germany staying for three to six weeks in the country. The last one left in 2008 after serving the community for ten months. Afterwards, Azerbaijani pastors took over.

The congregation is affiliated to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Caucasus, the seat of which is in Tbilisi (Georgia). The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Baku was registered by the State in 2010 after a solution was found to harmonize the internal rules of the Church with the 2009 Law on Freedom of Religious Beliefs. The community is run by a council of five members, mainly women, elected every four years.[4]

Molokan Church Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

See, Ethnic Russian Sect Struggling to Survive in Azerbaijan, which explains that the majority of Molokans have emigrated from Azerbaijan.

Russian Orthodox Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Azerbaijan", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azerbaijan, accessed 11 April 2020.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Catholic Church in Azerbaijan", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_in_Azerbaijan, accessed 11 April 2020.
  3. "WRITTEN STATEMENT ON AZERBAIJAN BY THE EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF JEHOVAH’S CHRISTIAN WITNESSES", https://www.osce.org/odihr/27145?download=true, accessed on 11 April 2020.
  4. "AZERBAIJAN: The Greater Grace Church deprived of the use of the Lutheran Church in Baku", https://www.iclrs.org/content/blurb/files/HRWF%20The%20Greater%20Grace%20Church%20Baku.pdf, accessed 11 April 2020.