Евангелическая Лютеранская Церковь - Евангелическая Лютеранская Церковь - Lutheran Church in Russia http://www.lutheranworld.ru Wed, 22 Nov 2017 13:49:40 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management ru-ru Russian pastor Bondarenko to LWF Assembly, God’s promises hold http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1261-lwfassembly http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1261-lwfassembly Rev. Dr Elena Bondarenko from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in European Russia, preaching at the opening worship of the Lutheran World Federation's Twelfth Assembly on 10 May 2017, Windhoek, Namibia. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

WINDHOEK, Namibia/GENEVA, 10 May 2017 - The survival of the church through tribulations is the fulfilment of God’s promise, participants in the Twelfth Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) were reminded during the opening worship.

“God’s promises concern life and everyday existence, our daily bread and all our works, God’s promises open for us a truth that everything makes sense, all our deeds and even thoughts and feelings have a meaning, and the ultimate goal is that we, with all our thoughts and deeds, can be saved.” This was the message from Rev. Dr Elena Bondarenko of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in European Russia, in her sermon at the Assembly eucharistic worship.

The service attended by some 800 people was held in a worship tent erected on the grounds of the Safari Court Hotels and Conference Center in Windhoek, where the highest decision-making body of the LWF is meeting, jointly hosted by the three member churches in Namibia. A mass choir and musicians from the local churches accompanied the hymn singing.

Preaching on Isaiah 61: 1-4, Bondarenko urged the congregation members from around the world to trust in God. “God’s promises are really held. For 2,000 years the Christian church has been teaching, proclaiming the gospel and administering Holy Sacraments. […] The church is victorious because Jesus promised it.” 

The worship tent, which will be the meeting point for most of the assembly worship and prayer services, has an altar table, font and pulpit made of wood from fallen trees collected in Namibia.

The assembly host churches namely, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia - German Evangelical Lutheran Church, bring together some 1.2 million people. They join hands under the banner of the United Church Council of the Namibia Evangelical Lutheran Churches, through which they collaborate to enhance church unity in the country.

God’s gifts are not for sale

Bondarenko’s reflections on the Assembly theme, “Liberated by God’s Grace,” and sub-themes elaborating that salvation, human beings and creation are “not for sale” also set the tone for the Sunday, 14 May, global event to commemorate the Reformation anniversary at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.

She suggested the sequence: creation-human beings-grace-salvation, to affirm the order of biblical history, and the most important of God’s promises. “God’s gifts are not for sale. God gives us freedom and grace in abundance. God comes to save us in our time. And it is time to rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated, it is time to worship God according to the tradition, but also with our own, new song,” she added.

Bringing meaning to life

A church dean, who has been involved in reconciliation work with congregations in the Ukraine amid the Crimean crisis, Bondarenko noted the 500th Reformation anniversary also coincides with the 100th anniversary of two Russian revolutions that brought persecution to Christians there.

She asked the congregation to imagine what it was like in Russia to live under official atheism for almost 90 years, “without our faith in God” and “without the beauty of the Holy Scriptures and church liturgy [or] God’s guidance and support in the chaos of times.”

Emphasizing that God’s promises hold, she said, “When everything was done to make the church silent and dead, it is a real miracle that the Bride of Christ, the church survived.”

Her message to Christians today, facing new challenges and questions to which they might not have many answers: “Let us humbly confess our ignorance and trust in God our Creator. What is in our power is to be honest and honestly to proclaim God’s grace and to preach that creation and salvation are not for sale. This was the basis of the Reformation 500 years ago, this is the principle that we renew in a modern way nowadays,” she added.

ELCRN Bishop Ernst //Gamxamub presided at the Eucharist, which was distributed at different points in the tent.  Other liturgical parts of the service were led by Bishop Dr G. Raja Socrates Sathyachandar from the Arcot Lutheran Church in India, and Church of Norway Presiding Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien, who is also LWF Vice-President for the Nordic region.

After the service, participants moved from the tent to the conference center plenary hall to begin the Assembly business sesions, which today will include the address of the LWF President and presentation of Messages from the Women and Youth Pre-Assemblies.

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English Thu, 11 May 2017 06:32:02 +0000
Reformation and Partnership (Russian Correspondent) http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1253-russiancorrespondent http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1253-russiancorrespondent Reformation and Partnership (Russian Correspondent)

From my first year in Russia I've been blessed by the presence of mission workers from the Presbyterian Church (USA) here. THE PCUSA has a very interesting vision of mission here; instead of trying to establish congregations of their own denomination, they put their efforts into helping those churches that have historical roots in the country.

Most of their contacts have been with the Baptist and Orthodox churches, but they've supported the Lutheran church in significant ways, too. Two of those that have been most significant in my ministry - Joseph Kang's teaching of Biblical subjects at the Theological Seminary in Novosaratovka, and Ellen Smith's work partnering congregations.
  Ellen has been a good friend and colleague throughout the years, and together with her husband Al they have been really good people with whom to reflect on life and ministry here. We've had ideas about how to actually work together in the past, but only this year did it gain concrete form....and in two different ways within one week. More about the second of those in another post, but the first is related to my latest trip to the Northern Caucasus deanery near the end of March.

...  Overall we can see that God has provided for the people of this region and, after a long period of stagnation, how something new is happening there. It is a blessing to be a part of it. ...

  Dean Sergey Maramzin and I had spoken about the continued need of folks in his deanery to gain a sense of what the Lutheran branch of the Christian family is and what it might mean for us to build up the church in this region. With that general idea in mind, we developed a couple of goals for a seminar through the "Equipping for Service" project: 1. To help congregational leaders become “local experts” on Luther and the events of the Reformation in this important anniversary year. 2. To make a first attempt to use the new deanery retreat center in Makhovsevskaya (Krasnodary Krai, not far from Maikop, Adygeya) as a place for educational events Sergey has been working very hard to construct (much with his own hands) a building that could be used for deanery-wide events or simply for individuals looking for a place of spiritual restoration. Having the seminar planned pushed Sergey to make the place livable by the date we had set, and he accomplished that, even if there is still work to be done.

...instead of trying to establish congregations of their own denomination, they put their efforts into helping those churches that have historical roots in the country...

While we were planning, we learned that Bishop Dietrich Brauer had suggested to Ellen that it would be helpful if she try to establish partnerships for our churches, too, starting with the Northern Caucasus region. Ellen, Sergey and I decided that we could combine these things; she and I flew down, then, to visit two congregations (Krasnodar, Novorossisk) and to meet regional leaders at a day-long seminar.

  12 people (including the 3 pastors) from 4 different locations were in attendance; Dean Maramzin kept the number deliberately relatively low insofar as this first use of the retreat center was an experiment; more will get invitations in the future. As it is, though, we were together for most of a good day. While it wasn't too much time (particularly because some of us had to travel great distances - 5+ hours – to get home and the road conditions were poor), it was of high quality - we had fellowship, a meal, conversation, a short sermon on the occasion of the Annunciation (it was March 25, after all), and a basic course on Luther's life and the Reformation. Besides getting to know one another better, the participants also had a good chance to meet Ellen and to hear from her how PC(USA) envisions partnership.
... they appreciated the way Reformation-area materials were presented in a way that was understandable and accessible, that it helped them bring order to their scattered thoughts on the subject...
Sergey, Ellen and I, as we reflected on the weekend, were filled with hope for the potential of what God might do with us and the congregations with which we are in contact. The deanery retreat center has now been "tested" and Sergey mentioned afterwards that now he feels more comfortable using the space for other (education and not-strictly-educational) activities. This was a very important achievement, in my mind, and Dean Maramzin is to be praised for his hard work to make a place for retreat for the church. It is still certainly a work in progress and there is much potential to do more, but even now it is quite usable, with sleeping places (up to 7), seating (for more than twice more than that), a place to prepare food, wash, and a place for outdoor activities.Ellen was also able to get an impression of congregational members in the region and has already started praying for and sharing potential partnerships... and is already recruiting staff for the region's plans to do a day-camp this summer... For my part I heard from seminar participants that they appreciated the way Reformation-area materials were presented in a way that was understandable and accessible, that it helped them bring order to their scattered thoughts on the subject.
  Overall we can see that God has provided for the people of this region and, after a long period of stagnation, how something new is happening there. It is a blessing to be a part of it. 
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English Mon, 10 Apr 2017 09:33:21 +0000
LWF President Visits the Church in Kazakhsta http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1054-lwf-russia http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1054-lwf-russia  “Extremists exist in all religions. None has a monopoly on extremism. How do our speeches in the churches, mosques, temples reflect living together and co-existence? That is a challenge for us right now,” he noted.

KAZAKHSTAN. ASTANA. 2015 June 11-12. Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation, visited the church in Kazakhstan on June 11-12.  He shared his impressions through a LWF press release:


  “This was my first visit to Kazakhstan as LWF president. I learned a lot about the joys and challenges of the Kazakhstan Lutheran church. I explained our work together with the member churches: caring for refugees, advocacy for climate justice, women’s empowerment, theological reflections, ecumenical relations and inter-religious dialogue and so on,” Younan said.
  “Being in the communion means we are in pulpit and altar fellowship,” Younan said. “This means when I visit your Church I am at home with my sisters and brothers in Christ as we celebrate the Holy Communion that sends us together to the world with a call to holistic mission.”
  The conversations helped clarify the LWF’s role in the relationship with its member churches. “It was important to emphasize that the LWF as a communion of churches respects the autonomy of each church and that we accompany the churches upon invitation.”
  However, being churches in communion “also means that we are accountable to each other,” Younan remarked.

Geographical isolation
The ELCRK’s core membership is made up of 2500 people in 50 congregations scattered across the country. The distance between congregations can be up to 3000 kilometers. The president saw his visit as an opportunity to learn firsthand the challenges of being geographically isolated.
Image  “I certainly felt how being far and in such a big country, and in another language context, can be a hindrance. I came to understand the difficulty of even gathering pastors to a national church meeting,” said Younan, who is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
  Education and formation of pastors are key priorities of the ELCRK. The LWF president also heard the church’s excitement over plans to build a new church in Astana that will include a community center, youth services and guest house, and about its good relations with the government.
 Spirituality
But it was the church’s spirituality and deep piety that most struck the LWF president. “You have a certain spirituality in Kazakhstan; and I invite you to come to the table with your spirituality. It is an added value,” he said, referring to conversations with the pastors, and his church attendance.
“I suggested that they should be more involved in the life of the communion, including the Global Young Reformers’ Network, the women’s networks and other aspects of LWF,” he said. “This for me was a pastoral visit, and I let them know how important they are as part of the Lutheran communion.”
 Countering extremism
  Younan was in Astana also to participate in the international Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. At the gathering, he challenged the religious and political leaders to enhance their own engagement in fighting extremism and in peace building efforts.
  “Extremists exist in all religions. None has a monopoly on extremism. How do our speeches in the churches, mosques, temples reflect living together and co-existence? That is a challenge for us right now,” he noted.
  Younan emphasized his call to faith groups to examine the curricula they teach and offer their countries by asking: “Do we promote extremism or acceptance of the other that is different? Do we promote the concept of seeing the image of God in the other?

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elcros@mail.ru (Редактор) English Fri, 12 Feb 2016 19:05:33 +0000
Installation of Dietrich Brauer as Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1053-archbishop-spring-caucuses http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1053-archbishop-spring-caucuses Ecumenical guests from the Orthodox, Catholic and protestant churches also were in attendance.

MOSCOW. February 8, 2015. St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral in Moscow had never held such an event before; perhaps it was the largest event of its kind in the post-Soviet history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia – the consecration of Dietrich Brauer as Archbishop of ELCR on February 8, 2015.

There were bishops from foreign churches, representatives of international church organizations, local representatives of churches, of the government and of foreign diplomatic missions (Germany and America).
Image  After two years as the “acting” Archbishop, the title was made official at the General Assembly of the Russian church in September 2014. It was decided then that it would be good to plan the installation as a large meeting of partners and friends of the church, so time was left to invite people and put together plans. In the end the installation was presided at by the Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Estonia Urmas Viilma, who himself had just become Archbishop in Tallinn the week before. Assisting him were representatives of the LWF, the churches in Hungary, Slovakia, Finland, Austria, Latvia, Siberia and Kazakhstan. Ecumenical guests from the Orthodox, Catholic and protestant churches also were in attendance.
  In his sermon Archbishop Brauer spoke about what he sees as priorities – the strengthening of internal church unity and of the structures of the Union of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. He sees the Lutheran church here playing  a positive role in Russian society, in the ecumenical sphere and in the international Lutheran family.

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elcros@mail.ru (Редактор) English Sun, 08 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Lutheran Spring 2014 http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1052-lutheran-spring-caucuses http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1052-lutheran-spring-caucuses  Participants had an opportunity not only to deepen their understanding, but also to share with one another information about the life of their congregations, to discuss practical questions and to just enjoy one another's company on a boat ride.

From May 28 to June 1 in the village of Novomikhailovka near Tuapse Oswald Wutzke led a seminar “Lutheran Spring 2014” for staff of the congregations of the Northern Caucuses deanery of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Most of the congregations of the region were represented there – Cherkessk, Kislovodsk, Krasnodar, Vladikavkaz, Maikop, Krimsk, Novomikhailovsk as well as guests from Kazan and from the Republic of Moldova.


  Lessons were led by Oswald Wutzke, Pastor David Gorn and Pastor Sergei Maramzin. Participants had an opportunity not only to deepen their understanding, but also to share with one another information about the life of their congregations, to discuss practical questions and to just enjoy one another's company on a boat ride. On the last day of the seminar the priest of the local Armenian Orthodox congregation allowed the group to hold a Lutheran worship service in their building. Pastor Wutzke gave the sermon about 3 simple but important words for every Christian - “thanks,” “please,” and “sorry” - and the importance of using these words in everyday life.

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elcros@mail.ru (Редактор) English Thu, 01 May 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Visitation to Congregations in the Northern Caucuses http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1051-visitation-to-congregations-in-northern-caucuses http://www.lutheranworld.ru/english/item/1051-visitation-to-congregations-in-northern-caucuses What made me particularly happy during this trip was that a number of people decided to be baptized and to have their children baptized. In these days a strong foundation was laid for the work of the Lutheran Church in the Northern Caucuses

On November 6-8 Dean of the Northern Caucuses Sergey Maramzin visited a number of congregations of his region – Labinsk, Stavropol, Cherkessk, Pyatigorsk, Maisky, Prokhladny and Georgievsk.

He led worship in these places and also performed baptisms; in addition, he met with representatives of regional government and with those people who are interested in cooperating with our church. “What made me particularly happy during this trip was that a number of people decided to be baptized and to have their children baptized. In these days a strong foundation was laid for the work of the Lutheran Church in the Northern Caucuses,” the Dean said at the conclusion of his visitation.

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elcros@mail.ru (Редактор) English Fri, 12 Feb 2016 18:36:00 +0000