in General

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

SELC Newsletter #238

Peace to you, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On April, 22, pastor Andrei Lipnitsky has visited the village Oravka in Chany district of Novosibirsk region. This village was founded by colonists from Estonia in 1894. It had even a church building, but at Soviet time it was confiscated and reconstructed to use as a school. Thus religious life was extinguished.

About 40 people came to meet the Lutheran pastor. They asked a lot of questions. At the end of the talk Pastor Lipnitsky gave Small Catechisms to everybody.

To search and to visit such villages where there are people, whose ancestors confessed the Lutheran faith — this is continuing ministry of our Church. We do it all the time.

The very first time, pastor Vsevolod Lytkin and deacon Daniel Burlakov visited such a village nearly 20 years ago. You may remember this story from our very old newsletters.

That time, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Roman-Catholic priests started to travel over Siberia to look for villages where Roman-Catholics survived. And accidentally they found a village where people said they are Lutherans. They spoke Russian with a strong western accent. Their ancestors came to Siberia from Poland.

Catholic priests phoned us and invited to come to this village. It was a long travel. First, from Novosibirsk to Irkutsk, then for 8 hours by different vehicles through the taiga. Finally we arrived to our destination, and spent a week there, communicating with the habitants.

The first settlers came to that place in the late 19th century, then many families moved from Poland (that time it was part of the Russian Empire) into deep Siberia.

Their life was very hard; they rooted out trees and arranged fields. Then they lived there and grown. Pastor from Irkutsk visited the village once a year. He baptized, confirmed, gave the Holy Communion, conducted weddings. Last time a Pastor was there in 1935.

And then Rev. Vsevolod Lytkin became the first pastor who visited this village for over 60 years. Many old people talked him about the faith of their ancestors, and what terrible persecutions they gone through because of their faith. Half of the villagers died in the concentration camps during 30s and 40s (at the time of Joseph Stalin’s regime). People were arrested if a Bible or prayer book has found in their homes.

But older people still remember what parents taught them. For example, a woman who was asked by Pastor Lytkin if she knew what the Holy Communion is, said that she never in her life took the Communion, but she remembers what her mother taught. And then she quoted by heart about Holy Communion from the Luther’s small Catechism.

Then she said: now my eyes have seen a Lutheran pastor, now I can die. And it sounded as in Luke 2: 29-30, it was very touchable.

“That was so long ago, Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin said. But since then we have found many other villages where people have kept the faith, or even the memory of what their ancestors were Lutherans. The Volga Germans, Poles, Finns, Latvians, Estonians… We owe to these people, because they have brought Lutheranism to Siberia. For many years we are searching for such villages and we try to do something to help their habitants. To comfort the elderly. And talk about Lord Jesus Christ and His Church to the younger.

Sadly, we do not have many resources to do this work. After all, we are a very small Church, and we are poor. And distances in Siberia are huge. But we try, because it is our responsibility before God.”

Please pray for a safe travels of the pastors in Siberia, and that they find more villages, whose inhabitants have been and will be Lutherans.

“Faith and hope”

Please see attached photos.