17 воскресенье после Троицы
“Church, Politics and War” at the Novosaratovka Theological Seminary
The difficult topic of “Church, Politics, War”was at the center of the latest course of continuing education at the Novosaratovka Theological Seminary from February 26 to March 9.
These complex issues were tackled by specialists in each of their respective fields. Dr. Rainer Stahl (Erlangen, Germany) spoke about how politics is seen in the Bible; Dr. Hartwig von Schubert (Hamburg, Germany) shared his knowledge and experience in the area of the ethics of military conflict. Professor Andras Koranyi (Budapest, Hungary) told about the complex interaction of Church and politics in the history of Christianity and Professor Laima Geikina (Riga, Latvia) touched on aspects of Christian education in the social – political sphere. At the lessons of Seminary President Dr. Anton Tikhomirov participants could discuss the ambiguous phenomenon of the political sermon.
During one of the evenings, participants in the seminar were able to meet with the church's international partners, including Dirk Stelter from the Evangelical Church in Germany and the LWF director of the department of mission and development, Rev. Dr. Fidon Mwombeki.
One of the challenges of the seminar was the temperature – the exceptional cold wave that hit at that time meant that it was quite cool in the classrooms, but the teachers and the participants never lost enthusiasm, but instead encouraged each other and tried to look at the situation with a sense of humor.
In his closing sermon Andras Koranyi emphasized that our churches, whatever minority they might be in, can give a lot to the whole Christian world and the society in which they exist.
The almost unanimous response to this seminar from participants was that it was an experience that brought them not only new knowledge, but a new way to approach difficult theological and social issues. Those who went through the course feel that the discussion of these themes are in large part an indicator of the development of mature religious self-understanding, both as a denomination and as part of society as a whole.
The next courses at Novosaratovka are planned for August 16-31 and are dedicated to the Reformation which will be looked at from various – sometimes very unexpected – points of view. Teachers will be arriving from Hungary, Estonia, and the United States and Argentina.
The “Musical Offering of J.S. Bach” Festival
On March 14 Sts Peter and Paul Lutheran Church, supported by the German Embassy, hosted a concert of the famous German organist Martin Welzel as part of the fifth “Musical Offering of J.S. Bach Festival.” The program of the concert included works by the German composers J.S. Bach, J. G. Rheinberger, M.Regera and also French masters of organ music Louis Verna and Jean Langlais.
Martin Welzel is one of the world’s foremost contemporary organists. He was born in 1972 and received his education at the Higher School of Music in Saarbrücken , then in Washington University in Seattle. He has had the opportunity to give solo concerts in Notre Dame de Paris, in St. Paul Cathedral, in Westminster Abbey in London, at the cathedral of Stanford University (USA) and many other prestigious places throughout the world. Professor Welzel also teaches at the University of Ludwig-Maximilian in Munich.
The concert was opened with words by Archbishop Dietrich Brauer and by the permanent vice-Ambassador of Germany, Beate Grzeski, who directed attention to the fact that Johann Sebastian Bach was a Lutheran and supported the Reformation and added: “in Russia there is a special appreciation of this composer. His works were performed here even at the time when they were forgotten in Western Europe.”
The Archbishop underlined that the concert is taking place in the year of the 333 birthday of the great composer: “The language of Bach is the language of faith, the language of eternity. Therefore it is accessible and understandable for any person whose soul is directed toward Divine mystery and who longs for its presence. I express my heartfelt thanks to the German Embassy and to the wonderful organist Martin Welzel for the musical gift of this evening and also for all of you who take part in this good deed, since the funds gathered at this concert will be donated to the Carl Blume home for the elderly in the Kaliningrad oblast.”
The Car Blume House is one of the most important diaconal projects of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia. It receives no state help and run solely on the support of donations from the church.
Many fans of organ music came to the concert; not only was the sanctuary full, the balcony was as well. Representatives of the German embassy and other invited guests were in attendance.
“The Ninth Hour”
On March 15 Pastor Agris Pilsums, who serves the Lutheran congregations in Ilukste, Subate and Lasi (Latvia), drove his car to Yaroslavl and brought with him the diptych “The Ninth Hour” („Devītā stunda“), painted by his wife, Art History specialist Daiga Pilsuma.
The diptych will become the altar picture in Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Yaroslavl. Christ's Passion as portrayed in the paint fits in well with the rough, once-destroyed-and-now-being restored interior of the church. It reminds us both of death and God's victory over death.
Church council President Igor Fedder, lay preacher Artis Petersons, congregational Pastor Ivan Shirokov and Area Dean Elena Bondarenko were there to receive the painting. A celebration is being planned for this summer for the dedication of the painting.
25th Synod Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of European Russia
“To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring.” (Rev. 21.6) – this verse is the watchword for 2018 and was also the theme of the ELCER synod assembly which took place March 20-22 at the Novosaratovka Theological Seminary (St. Petersburg). 32 delegates elected by their deaneries to represent them took part in this, the most authoritative legislative body of the ELCER, which meets biennially.
Synod President Olga Temirbulatova welcomed the delegates and guests, including Friedemann Eme from the Church of Saxony and the director of the Hannover office of Martin Luther Bund, Norbert Hintz; the latter has come many times to the synod assembly for fellowship with brothers and sisters and to participate in the work of the Synod. Before the assembly there was a conference of area deans during which each of them gave reports about the ministries of their regions.
Bishop Dietrich Brauer spoke in his report about the activities of the past two years, and in particular about the successful events dedicated to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Delegates accepted the report of the head of the ELCER administration, Viktor Weber, and confirmed the auditors' report for 2016-2017 and the budget for 2018-2019. The coordinator of women's ministries Elena Bondarenko, of youth work Vera Tkach and the coordinator of diaconal ministries Artis Petersons informed delegates about the work that has taken place since the last synod assembly and elected Vladislav Telegin to the office of children's ministries. Starting in March 2018 he began sending out materials for children's worship to the congregations of our Church.
The synod heard the report of the President of the Theological Seminary, Anton Tikhomirov, and supported the seminary with the following statement: “The synod assembly declares that the Seminary is a unique Russian-speaking educational institution and theological center for the entire post-Soviet context. Its continued existence is fundamentally important for our Church and for all the Churches of the Union of Evangelical Lutheran Churches.” The synod assembly expressed its willingness to support the Seminary in any way possible. Bradn Buerkle, the head of the “Equipping for Service” educational ministry, spoke with delegates about the seminars that have been held in congregations in Russia and the Union. All those in attendance received as a gift the new book of collected sermons by Archbishop Dietrich Brauer. The synod assembly came to a close with a worship service with Holy Communion on March 22 at the seminary chapel.