in General

SELC Newsletter #240

Peace to you, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

From 8th to 13th of June Vacation Bible School (VBS) took place in the Parish of Saint Andrew in Novosibirsk. This year the theme was “Absolution in Old Testament.”

The VBS of two previous years were about Old Testament types (examples, 1Cor. 10:6) of Baptism and Eucharist. Thus this year’s topic completed the “triptych.” Pastor Pavel Khramov (director of Sunday school) explains, “VBS is targeted primarily on children. For many years we finish the school year at Sunday school with VBS. For kids it is a sort of summit of their Bible studies. Thus, Bible is always the foundation and focus of our summer program. Second, we want to encourage our parishioners to learn the Catechism, so we try to incorporate it in into VBS. Lastly, we see it as vital to show our children how the Old Testament reveals to us Jesus Christ. This point is very important in our context, as in nearly all Bible study materials, articles and sermons published in the Russian Old Testament is presented as a book of parables told for our better Christian living. Priests and pastors, scholars and teachers of different Christian denominations in our country think of the Old Testament as a book of instructions for us, as a book of ancient stories in which we can take out a lesson for ourselves.

For two years, we explained how God showed in images and shadow the coming of good things (Heb. 10:1). We explained that these things, though not actual Baptism and Eucharist, were not empty symbols, but the real salvation for God’s people awaiting for the Messiah, the Christ. This year it was a bit easier. We’ve been speaking not about shadow, but body (Col. 2:17), about the forgiveness for the sake of the One coming, Jesus Christ.

For the three previous years, we conducted VBS in the form of evening classes. This year we decided to come back to the program for a whole day. It gave us more time for Bible study, for games and fun, for practical work, and for fellowship. Besides the Bible studies, we visited a small local museum of natural history and the science center. We played games and did some work at the church yard. At the last day we cleaned the church building and had a grilled wurst to celebrate the end of the VBS.

The children choir at Sunday service on the next day became the final element of VBS, as during the whole week kids were rehearsing the song.

The bigger program is more difficult to organize and manage, but it attracted kids not from our parish. Non-believing relatives of our church members would not let their kids to attend Bible studies, but the program with games, visiting museums and so on, seemed to them worthy to “waste some time on studying the Bible.”

Please, pray for the children in our parishes, that they grow “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4) and for the Sunday school teachers, who help parents to raise their kids as good Christians.

“Faith and hope”
Please see attached photos.

SELC Newsletter #239

Peace to you dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The festival of the Holy Trinity was the last day of the school year in St. Andrew’s parish Sunday school. On this day children of the second grade (5-7 years old) were awarded with diplomas for learning by heart the first chapter of the Luther’s Small Catechism.

Director of the parish Sunday school Pastor Pavel Khramov says, “Studying Catechism is one of the most important parts of bringing up children ‘in the discipline and instruction of the Lord’. Therefore we encourage children and mark every step, even small, on this way.  Of course, learning by heart needs to go along with understanding, as Catechism is the ‘Bible of the laity’, it is short and clear explanation of the Holy Scripture, it is everything which is ‘necessary for a Christian man to know for his salvation’.

However, I noticed that Catechism should be memorized, and not just explained. When we memorize it, it forms our theological thinking; it gives correct patterns to speak to God and about God. We get used to distinguish Law and Gospel; we accustomed to put Christ into the center of our theology and our life. Moreover, learning the Small Catechism by heart gives us the right words to confess our faith. So often people seemed to believe rightly, but have difficulties with expression and explanation of their faith. Finally, when we award kids at the end of the liturgy, it encourages other children and, hopefully, adults to study and memorize the Small Catechism. That’s why I said to everybody, giving the diplomas, ‘These kids know the Ten Commandments, do you?’

I commend all the teachers of our Sunday school for their commitment to God’s Word and to children, for their patience and persistence in studying the Bible and Confessions and teaching it to children.”

Please pray for the Christian instruction for children and adults in Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Support Future Servants Report – Concordia Theological Seminary

debt-2

CTSFW has released their Lilly funded report on student loan debt from their seminary graduates (myself included.) The responses are staggering. Take time to review their findings and consider how you and your church can respond. I’ve blogged about this many times: The Pastor Debt Monster, Debt Follows Seminarians into Congregations, and Progress Being Made on Addressing Pastoral Debt.

It will take time to digest all of the findings of this study. One conclusion that will inevitably be drawn is that seminary education, especially the formation of pastors, demands significant resources. While some might suggest that the remedy would be to scale back the training of pastors, we at CTSFW are convinced that this would not be in the best interests of the Church. It is becoming increasingly evident that Christians live in a hostile environment in which controversial issues such as same-sex marriage, gender identity, physician-assisted suicide, and, most recently, religious freedom, threaten the very fabric of our society and pose a significant challenge to the Church’s confession of the faith. More than ever, we need pastors who are thoroughly equipped to lead God’s people toward a faithful confession of what we believe and teach. While the Seminary continues to search for innovative ways of equipping future pastors for the challenging demands that will be placed upon them, nothing can replace the daily one-on-one interaction that students have both with the faculty and with each other. To that end, CTSFW pledges nothing less than the preparation of well-equipped pastors who are able to lead the faithful to contend for the faith (Jude 3)…

… Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, understands that this study is just a first step in solving the challenge of educational debt among pastors and church workers. Recognizing that the entire body of Christ must become involved in the support of future servants of the church, a major goal of this study is to make congregations, districts, donors and laypeople more aware of the financial challenges that future church workers face. We are grateful to the Lilly Endowment Inc. for its support of this study and believe it will be a blessing both to our students and to our Seminary. We welcome your continued prayers and support for this endeavor. May the Triune God guide and bless the efforts of “Improving the Economic Well-being of Future Servants of Jesus Christ.”

 

Source: PDF of Report

Source: Support Future Servants – Reports – Concordia Theological Seminary