Weekend On Ice
On January 7, 2017, the congregation in Omsk organized a family day as a way to do something healthy together during the long winter break. Congregational members from Omsk and from the Omsk region together with members of German cultural centers gathered together for a couple of hours of ice skating, games and fellowship.
Among the participants were those who had never put on skates before, but even frequent falls did nothing to ruin the happy atmosphere of the day – after all, the most important thing was to be together with family and fellow believers.
Prayer for Christian Unity in the Lutheran Cathedral
On January 24 in St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in European Russia there was a worship service that united Christian congregations of various denominations from around the city. Participants came from Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Armenian, Baptist, Pentecostal and Adventist congregations.
In his greeting Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia Dietrich Brauer said: “Dear brothers and sisters! Five hundred years ago, the Reformation began. Martin Luther prompted the church to reform so that it would be able to fulfil the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ – to preach the Gospel to the world for the reconciliation of humankind with God. However, peace with God is tied inextricably with peace between people. A person acquires faith in God, becoming a child of God without any merits of their own, solely by grace. Therefore a believer cannot fail to see in a fellow Christian a brother or a sister. A Christian cannot but mourn about the division of the Church and to strive to attain unity. The ministry of reconciliation about which the Word of God is talking so clearly today is our common ministry. It takes place under the sign of the Cross. The Cross of Christ is the eternal sign of reconciliation between God and humankind. But the cross is also an eternal call to repentance. We really have nothing more to quarrel over when we are engaged in a ministry together. For the life of a Christian is the ministry of reconciliation. Today, dear brothers and sisters, I am praying to God to bless each of us to engage in this ministry of reconciliation in the name of Jesus Christ, to help us grow in the spirit of mutual acceptance, forgiveness, encouragement, love and the promise of unity for the Church of Christ.”
Archbishop Paulo Pezzi, the metropolitan of the Roman Catholic Mother of God Archdiocese, addressed those gathered: “‘How good and pleasant it is for brothers to live together,’ we read in the Psalm. This gathering which unites Christians of this city, is wonderful and from my perspective a sign of that to which the whole world is called, all people of goodwill. I especially like that this year we have the opportunity to pray together, whether in the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception yesterday, or here today in this marvelous Lutheran church or in St. Andrew's Anglican Church tomorrow. This is a sign that we deep in our heart want to be together. We are united by Christ's love.” The Papal Nuncio in Russia, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, added: “I think that it is very important to meet together in this Protestant Cathedral in the year when we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.. The Reformation has a lot of meaning not only for Protestants, but for all Christians. We should confess our sins against unity in the past and speed up our efforts toward unity in diversity."
The ecumenical worship service was accompanied by the singing of choirs from different confessions: the chapel choir of St. Peter’s and Paul’s Cathedral, the choir of the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, the Armenian Apostolic Church and the “Church of God” at Tsarytsino (Russian United Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith - Pentecostals). Hymns were not just musical accompaniment of the evening. They also helped everyone who had come to the cathedral to feel our common Christian roots and culture more deeply. As Father Patrick, the Chaplain of the Anglican Cathedral, said in his speech: “Music is not only an international but also an ecumenical language. Music is a strong help for coming to the Lord, for preaching the Gospel.” During the worship service representatives of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Christians of Evangelical Faith, the Evangelical Christians – Baptists, the Russian United Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith and the Seventh Day Adventists addressed the congregation. The worship service was closed by the Lord’s Prayer and a blessing from Archbishop Dietrich Brauer.
Ecumenical Reformation Anniversary Organizing Committee Established
Representatives of the Protestant community, the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox confession, the International Union of German Culture as well as representatives of the Presidential Administration of Russia and the city government of Moscow were present at the first meeting of the Reformation Anniversary Organizing Committee on January 18. Archbishop Dietrich Brauer opened the session; in his greetings to the participants, he noted that the anniversary of the Reformation would be celebrated extensively in the entire world, including Russia. This anniversary should be not only festive, but also a reason to make sense of the errors of the past and to overcome the contradictions within the Christian church as a whole. “We need to be in dialogue, in touch with one another. That is why we have gathered here, so that this year of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation might become a possibility for us to find new ways to reach out for the greater glory of the Lord. All of us are thinking over our actions within our churches, and again and again we come to the need to repent and bow down before the Lord, the giver of all mercy.” During the meeting, the schedule of events celebrating the anniversary year was coordinated. They will take place in Moscow as well as in the regions of Russia.
The first important event of the year will be the jointly-led Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Catholics and Lutherans of Russia decided to revive a former tradition and have events take place in the churches of both confessions during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from January 18 to 25, 2017, in order to confirm the mutual wish to go from division to full community in Christ. The General Secretary of the Conference of Catholic bishops of Russia, Chancellor of the Curia of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow Father Igor Kovalevsky noted in his speech that the Catholic Church is ready to take part in different events of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in order to testify to the values of the Gospel together. He suggested throwing more light on the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue in the world so that parishioners of all confessions could grasp its contents. The main thing is making the Gospel clear, as Father Igor Kovalevsky emphasized. The representatives of the presidential administration and the city government expressed their honest wish to help and support the organizing committee in every way in conducting the events of the Reformation anniversary year. A collective prayer and a blessing by Archbishop Dietrich Brauer closed the meeting.
Reconstruction of the Organ Gallery in Petrikirche
On Sunday, January 29 everyone who came into Petrikirche was taken by surprise – the worship service was held not in the sanctuary, but in the chapel...with the building's entry way acting as overflow space for this worship service with Holy Communion. “We feel especially close to one another today in this tight space, taking Communion together in this small circle from the hands of our pastor, Michael Schwarzkopf, and our intern Judith Schaefer,” said congregations after the service.
The empty Organ Gallery in Petrikirche
The sanctuary was closed for two and half months. The reason for this? The exciting development of preparing a place for the new, large organ that was soon to arrive. The construction work was centered particularly on preparing the organ gallery while the rest of the sanctuary's decorations and instruments were carefully covered in order not to suffer from the construction dust.
You can read more about the organ in news articles from later in the year.