The 5th General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia Elects a New President
Archbishop Dietrich Brauer, in his sermon at the opening worship service of the Fifth General synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia, spoke about his recent experience at the worldwide LWF gathering: “The influence of the Reformation is not limited to only European countries. The large gathering of the Lutheran World Federation was held in May of this year in Africa, in Namibia. The entire host country was caught up in great joy - the president of the country – a Lutheran – organized a warm welcome for guests. On one of the days there were testimonies given by ministers of the church from various regions. Delegate Vera Tkach told the story of St. Mary Lutheran Church in the Petrograd region of St. Petersburg. In the years of the blockade the wooden church was disassembled and used for firewood to warm people's homes. In this way the church continued to serve people. Everything changed a century ago and this century left scars. Today, though, we are traveling on the road to His coming kingdom, trusting our Lord.”
This report helped give context to those gathered in Moscow for the General Synod on June 5. 20 delegates, elected to 6-year terms by local and regional leaders in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in European Russia (ELCER) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Urals, Siberia and Far East (ELCUSFE), took part in the event that included: the Archbishop's report, the vice-president's report from Tatyana Muramtseva and the report of the president of the Theological Seminary, Anton Tikhomirov.
Tatyana Muramtseva gratulates the new president Andrey Dzhamgarov
Maria Khudenko and Viktor Weber spoke about the results of the new state registration of the church's constitution; the process has been completed and the Church should receive the confirmation documentation soon.
A second, no less important aspect of the meeting was the election of a new president. Two years ago Waldemar Bentzel was elected president, but he moved to Germany for a new place of service; in the meantime his responsibilities were passed on to Tatytana Muramtseva, the vice-president. The Dean of the Saratov Deanery of the ELCER, Andrey Dzhamgarov, was elected as the new president, with Dean of the Central Deanery of ELCUSFE, Vladimir Vinogradov, elected vice-president.
The audit commission was also elected: Elena Lobova from Omsk, Olga Smykova from St. Petersburg, and Lidya Reichert from Samara.
At the prayer service at the conclusion of this most authoritative meeting of Russian Lutherans Archbishop Brauer blessed Andrey and Vladimir in their new ministries.
New Organ Makes a Joyful Noise in Petrikirche
On June 4, Pentecost, the congregational members of St. Peter and Paul Cathedral (Petrikirche) first heard their new organ. It was tuned just a few days before. Now all the time and effort searching for an appropriate instrument as well as funds for its purchase, transport and installation are in the past. The Willi Peter organ was a gift for the congregation of St. Anna and St. Peter during this 500 anniversary of the Reformation.
”Three years ago the pastor of St. Gertrude congregation in Stockholm asked me if the newest of their three organs would fit for Petrikirche,” Pastor Michael Schwartzkopf explained, “their old organ was going to return to its former place while the Willi Peter organ, given to the congregation in the 1970s, was to be put in storage.”
After getting acquainted with the instrument and making a decision about whether or not it was the best option, the process of gathering funds began. Congregational members made offerings as did friends of the congregation. But most of all the project was able to happen thanks to the agreement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany to take on the main financial burden. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany applied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and this was another source of finances. Petrkirche’s partner congregation - St. Michael's in Hamburg - made a significant contribution as well. In October 2016 St. Gertrude's congregation Stockholm began to take down the organ in order to transport it. In January 2017 the reconstruction of the organ gallery began in Petrikirche in order to prepare a place for the new instrument.
After the building was closed in 1937 the historic organ was taken away, and for many decades that space was empty. The Walker organ had been installed in St. Peter's church in 1840; it had 63 registers, three manuals and one pedalboard. After the church's closure the organ was given to Moscow, where it was installed in the Tchaikovsky concert hall. But then in the 1950s the organ was taken apart; some of its registers remained in Moscow and the other part, having been taken to Czechoslovakia, turned up in Donetsk – then called Stalino - where the organ was installed in the regional philharmonic orchestra.
In 1997 a small, 10-register organ was installed in the altar area of Petrikirche; now it will have a worthy companion in the large Willi Peter organ (1972-73) with 43 registers and three manuals. The “new resident” of the cathedral came in April, during Easter week, and then after assembly, it was tuned by experts from the Beckerath company in Hamburg.
On July 1 the organ was officially “opened” at a concert at which two Petersburg musicians performed – the organist of Petrikirche Sergei Silaevsky and the organist of St. Catherine's Evangelical Lutheran Church Grigory Varshavskyy. Now concerts of organ music will be performed in the cathedral a few times a week, while the blessing of the instrument will take place on September 28, and will be celebrate together with representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Northern Germany.
Two Decades and Two Concerts
On June 24the congregation in Berdyansk (Zaporozhskaya obl., Ukraine) celebrated 20 years since its re-birth. On this day the celebratory worship service in the Church of Christ the Savior was led by Pastor Andrey Kuznetsov (Kiev). 10 congregational members were baptised and confirmed. Many warm words of congratulations and presents were given to the congregation by guests and friends who were not able to attend in person.
After the meal a concert of early music was performed by Andrei Pracht (harpsicord), Irina Lukyanchuk (mandolin) and Elena Richter (soprano).
That evening in the Roman Catholic Church of the Birth of the Holy Virgin Mary there was an organ concert. Elena Udras performed classical and contemporary works on the organ, including her own pieces. Both concerts were dedicated to the 500 anniversary of the Reformation.