New Bishop for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Georgia and Southern Caucasus
Tbilisi, Georgia. November 12 was a memorable day in the history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Georgia and Southern Caucasus (ELCG). A new bishop was installed at Sunday worship at the Church of the Reconciliation. Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wortemburg, Markus Schock became the 5th bishop of the ELCG. His predecessor, Hans-Joachim Kiderlein, was the head of Georgian Lutherans from 2008 to 2017.
The installation service was led by the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kyrgyzstan, Alfred Eicholtz; he was assisted by Bishop Hans - Joachim Kiderlen, the Bishop Emeritus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia Abroad Elmars Rozitis, Bishop Emeritus of the ELG Johannes Launhardt, Klaus Rieth from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Wurttemberg, Dean Olga Timurbulatova, Pastor Irina Solei and Pastor Viktor Miroshnichenko.
The 51 year old Schock was elected bishop at the synod assembly of the ELCG a year ago, in November 2016. Bishop Schock is familiar with ministry in the post-Soviet context; he worked for 5 years as the pastor of the German Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Latvia, and earlier (beginning in 2000) he had worked for 4 years as the pastor of St. Georgia's in Samara (Russia).
The new bishop was greeted by representatives from other confessions, from government structures, from the German embassy and the partner church in Wurttemberg. Klaus Rit from the Wurttemberg church inspired the small Georgian church to be a “lighthouse for society.” Bishop Eicholtz, representing the Union of Evangelical Lutheran Churches – mentioned that it was a special blessing for him to take part in this installation insofar as he himself is a direct descendant of the Swabian emigrates who founded the first Lutheran congregations in Georgia. He quoted 1 Cor 4.15 as he reminded Bishop Schock of the need to love the church that has been entrusted to him and to lead it like a father.
The Area Dean for Samara Olga Temirbulatova read the congratulations written by the Archbishop of the ELCR, Dietrich Brauer, and added on her own that she has been acquainted with Pastor Schock for a long time, and knows that he is very capable of building on past developments and has the gift of consolidation and reconciliation. She sees him as a person “with a big heart,” and sees it as a blessing that he is serving in this new capacity.
The Doctrine of Justification 500 Years Later – Lutheran/Roman Catholic Conference in Moscow
Moscow. From November 21-23 at the St. Thomas Institute the ecumenical seminar “The Doctrine of Justification 500 Years Later” was held. The organizers of the seminar were St. Thomas Catholic Institute and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of European Russia (ELCER).
The St. Thomas Institute has already been in cooperation with the ELCER for quite some time, especially with the Central Deanery. Many of its graduates are working in ELCER congregations. The Rector of the Institute, Father Thomas Garcia, has preached numerous times in our Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral in Moscow. Therefore during one of the meetings between Father Thomas, Father Viktor Zhuk, Dean Elena Bondarenko and Lay Minister Artist Petersons the idea arose to organize a joint theological conference open to the two denominations and to the public during the year of the anniversary of the Reformation.
The idea became incarnate – a three day seminar in St. Thomas Institute with lectures by Father Jose Vegas from the “Mary Queen of the Apostles” Seminary in St. Petersburg and Pastor Anton Tikhomirov, the President of the Novosaratovka Theological Seminary. It ended up being an interesting dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics about sin, justification, salvation and the role of the Church in contemporary life.
At the conclusion of the seminar there was a discussion moderated by Father Zhuk. Dean Bondarenko and lay ministers Artis Petersons and Nikolai Demonov helped in the preparations for the seminar.
Church Dedication in Ekaterinburg
Ekaterinburg.The first Lutheran congregation in Ekaterinburg was founded in 1723. The first Lutherans were engineers, craftsmen and mining experts who came from Europe. After the war between Russia and Sweden in 1741-43, many parishioners were prisoners of war from Sweden and Finland.
In 1791 the first Lutheran wooden church was destroyed, and a new Orthodox church was built on the square. Until 1872 services were celebrated in various places in the city. In 1873 the new stone church was dedicated. The money for the construction was donated by church members (Germans and Swedes).
Congregational life was re-established in 1999 after the end of the Communist era. Now for the first time, after many trials, the congregation has its own space. On November 26, 2017, the congregation's building was consecrated.
The pastor of the congregation, Raikin Dürr, writes:
In the summer of last year, after many years of effort, we were finally allowed to buy a congregational center. The renovation work then lasted for over a year until we could celebrate the official dedication.
We are grateful to all friends and donors, but above all to our church members and staff who have not left us alone throughout the years.
On November 26, 2017, our newly renovated parish hall with an altar and pulpit was dedicated by Area Dean Valdemar Jesse. Brothers and sisters from different Lutheran congregations in the Urals visited us for this event. Representatives of the Liebenzell Mission also came to Ekaterinburg for the occasion. It was so crowded that people even had to sit in the cry room and there was no room left for the children - almost like the time when Jesus was born.
In his sermon Bishop Alexander Scheiermann reminded us of the heavenly hope that God offers to us Christians. We understand very well that with ownership comes responsibility.
And so, as Lutheran Christians in Ekaterinburg, we want to tell the people of our city the saving message of Jesus. We want to help the poor with diaconal ministry. And we want to invite people to join us for worship at church services where we hear His Word.
We very much hope that God sends people from our midst to be co-workers in His kingdom to serve in the most diverse fields.