Theme: Youth ministries
Together We Can Accomplish More!
We are very far apart geographically speaking. But all the same we are tied together by faith and many years of friendship (three of us studied together at the Theological Seminary in Novosaratovka.) It is so important for us to support this fellowship, to remain close and to work up a plan of cooperation. Youth coordinators from around the Union of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (formerly ELCROS) met in the Georgian capital from the 13th to the 16th of November. The Church of Reconciliation opened wide its doors for us. Represented were the coordinators from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia – Vladimir Vinogradov (ELCUSFE) and Vera Tkach (ELCER), as well as Nikolai Vorobyev (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kyrgyzstan), Igor Shemigon (German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine), and David Dzhandieri, Irina Soley and Irina Mamisashvili (Evangelical Lutheran Churchof Georgia). A special guest at the gather was the leader of the “Evangelical Youth in Germany” movement, Dirk Thesenvitz. One of the main questions we asked at the meeting was whether or not to form an “Evangelical Youth” movement uniting young believers regardless of their country of residence. Our brother Dirk, who has done youth work in the Evangelical Church in Germany for many years, shared his experience with a similar initiative. Everyone liked the idea, and we began to discuss such practical questions as creating a logo, structure and formulating the general principles of the movement. In discussion it became clear that the yearly “united youth service” liturgy plays a big role in uniting youth of various regions into. We agreed to continue the good start that was made at this meeting using the draft documents that Vladimir Vinogradov prepared. We also touched on the need to modernize confirmation lessons for children and youth; because we don't have enough modern confirmation books and other materials, it was decided to make a new translation of some of the older, though successful programs. We also remembered the important theme of education for youth leader and the necessity of holding seminars and conferences for them. It was noted that the International Bible School in Ukraine is still open as before for youth leaders both in “on-site” and “on-/off- site programs. One of the most important questions was the best way to use the Internet; concretely, how to find the best content for the children's www.nebesite.ru site and the “youth and children's work” section on www.elkras.ru. The coordinators made a calendar for renewing materials and came up with a “to do” list in order to most effectively use these common, virtual resources.
Since the members of this ground are far away from one another and don't have the chance to meet often, they agreed to meet for a monthly on-line conference which will certainly become a good instrument for the further coordination of events and for deciding current issues. Of course it is important that these annual face-to-face meetings continue into the future. The next meeting is scheduled for November 2015, in agreement with the council of Bishops, in Bishkek. Finally we discussed the status and leadership of the Committee of Youth Coordinators; it was agreed that Vladimir Vinogradov would continue in this position until the 2017 Reformation anniversary celebrations.
The work of the coordinators was arranged in such a way that it was possible for them to spend time with the youth of the host congregation. Vladimir Vinogradov led a seminar called “Youth Ministry” for the youth group of the Georgina Lutheran Church. Young Christians not only received useful materials about the types and means of youth worship services, but also helped them to actually lead such a service on Sunday evening in the Church of Reconciliation; Igor Shemigon and Vladimir Vinogradov preached, while the local youth themselves took on all the other tasks. Despite initial doubts about their own abilities, the youth did a great job. Afterwards they received the recommendation to hold a youth service in the congregation once a month. Perhaps that will provide an answer to the question that frequently came up in our days of meetings – how might it be possible to draw non-Christians to the Lutheran church? All the coordinators suggested their own answers to this question; it was particularly interesting to hear the experience of Nikolai Vorobyev, who is serving in a Muslim country. It was a blessing for the coordinators to have the chance to participate in Sunday worship. Pastor Vladimir Vinogradov gave a word of greetings there; Igor Shemigon preached, and Pastor Nikolai Vorobyev and coordinator Vera Tkach were readers. The coordinators expressed their thankfulness to Pastor Irinia Soley and everyone else in the local congregation for their hospitality. And for making our time in Tblisi an unforgettable blessing. Thanks were also expressed to the head of the Youth Coordinators' Committee, Vladimir Vinogradov for his hard work, optimism, and organization of the meeting and to Vera Tkach for her help in translating, for playing piano and taking pictures.
This meeting showed once again that when we are together we can accomplish a lot!
Mission Week in the Congregations of Bashkiria
The Bishop's Assistant in the ELCER, Nobert Hintz, made visits to the Lutheran congregations in Ufa, Sterlitamaka, and the village of Prishib from the 20th to the 25th of November.
During these meetings there were Bible lessons, worship and also the visit to the Catholic church in the village of Alekseevka and the Lutherans in Davlekanovo. On the 25th there was a meeting to discuss the plans for finishing the building of the diaconal center. This meeting was attended by ELCR Archbishop Brauer, Nobert Hintz, are Dean Sergey Goltswert, representative of the “Ural” charitable foundation Andrey Ignatenko, the Bashkortostan - Germany friendship community and representatives of local, county and state government.
During the meeting the crucial role of the “Ural” foundation in financing the project was underlined. They contributed more than 15.3 million rubles to the work of restoration of the church and the parsonage, as well as to the building of the guard station and the diaconal center. The rebirth of the Lutheran church – an architectural monument – began with the building being returned to the church in 2000. Since that time the Bashkir Republic, the Martin Luther Union, the Gustav Adolf Foundation and congregation members contributed to its restoration, which began in 2007. In 2015 the interior and grounds work should be finished.
After this meeting finished congregational members from the 3 congregations had the chance to meet with Archbishop Brauer and discuss with him the current state of affairs in the ELCER as well as the possibilities for further developing diaconal ministry. Every day of the mission week was filled with God's word, and atmosphere of understanding and joyful meetings.
Visit of Archbishop and Ordination in Saratov
ELCR Archbishop Dietrich Brauer traveled to Saratov on November 29-30 in order to preside at the ordination of Andrey Dzhamgarov in the under-construction St. Mary's church. In his words to the new pastor, Bishop Brauer underlined the serious responsibility that goes with pastoral ministry. The pastor not only teaches what the the Lord and the World of God – the Bible – says, but also in his life give an example of righteousness. In his sermon Pastor Dzhamgarov noted that a real minister should not stand in the center and draw attention to himself, but instead always be off to the side, pointing to the crucifixion of Christ as the true center.
There were many honored guests at ordination, including representatives of the state and local government. Many warm and touching words were addressed to the new pastor by representatives from congregations in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, Ulyanovsk, Marx and other cities in Russia. During the second part of the celebrations guests had the chance to listen the musical talents of the youth choir from St. Mary's church in Ulyanovsk. After that everyone “traveled to Africa” for a few minutes thanks to the choral number performed by Lutheran medical students from Namibia; their traditional African manner of singing was touching not only because of it being unusual, but because of the high quality of singing. The congregation's theater group prepared a gift for the new pastor – they performed a mini-play that demonstrated the true meeting of pastoral service, of how the shepherd guides, protects and brings peace to the flock of sheep.
All the members of Andrey's family – his parents, his older brother, wife and son – shared their thoughts about this significant event in the life of their family and of St. Mary's church. His family name - “Dzhamgarov,” translated from Armenian means “Bell Ringer.” Andrey, like his anonymous forbearer, also has gone along the path of service in the church.
On his first day in the region Archbishop Brauer traveled together with area Dean Andrey Shaermann to Holy Trinity church in Marx; this building, from the first half of the 19th century, is an architectural monument and is currently being successfully restored. The Archbishop also had a chance to see the restoration work done in Christ Lutheran Church in the village of Zorkino; this building was a copy of the historic building in Saratov, destroyed in the 1970s.