The Kanepi congregation and parish were established by an order of King Carolus XI of Sweden in August 1675, although the first cross-shaped wooden church had been built there the year before. In 1804-08 a new stone house of God designed by the architect Fr. Siegel was put up next to it, and was consecrated in 1810 to John the Baptist like the old church. The steeple of the Neo-classical church rises above the centre of the building and boasts a decoration unique in Estonia, the Dawn Star, a symbol of Christ, at its top. The pastor of the period, J.P. von Roth, was responsible for giving family names to the peasants, establishment of a parish school for boys and another for girls, as well as the publication of a weekly for country people. A vestry and lofts, which brought the capacity of the church up to 1,000 people, a stucco altar wall (with an 1857 altarpiece by A. Bauer) were added to the church in the course of repairs in 1877. Also a new bell was hung in the tower then. The present organ, made by W. Sauer, was installed in 1902.