ELCA Companions in Russia and Other States
A newly renovated church in the Kremlin
Who are the ELCA's companions in Russia?
Who is th the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC)?
The ELC is a member of the Lutheran World Federation
(LWF). It consists of two churches in Russia and former Soviet republics: the Evangelican Lutheran Church in European Russia (ELCER) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Urals, Siberia and the Far East (ELCUSFE). There are also ELC member churches in these former Soviet republics: Ukraine, Kyrgystan, Kazachstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbijian, Georgia. ELC ministry programs include diaconal work, children’s ministries, women’s ministries, education, and youth ministries. In each of these areas, there are seminars and training programs for leaders and events and groups for participants.
The leadership of the ELC is shared by Bishop Otto Schaude of ELCUSFE and acting Archbishop Dietrich Brauer, who is the bishop of ELCER. Who is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ingria and what are its ministries?
The pastor of the French-Speaking Lutheran Congregation in Moscow, explains her vision for the future of the congregation’s ministry
The Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (ELCIR) is made up of 12,000 members and is a member of the Lutheran World Federation
(LWF), the Conference of European Churches and the International Lutheran Council. Ingria has its roots in those local Finnish Lutheran Christians whose land became part of the Russian Empire in the 18th century. Ingria is the name for the territory (which at various points in history has belonged to Russia, Sweden and Finland) that includes modern St. Petersburg and which lies along the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland and along both banks of the river Neva. In the west it borders Estonia, in the south and in the east its borders run along the rivers Luga, Oredezh, Tosno, Mga and Lovat. At the time when the Lutheran faith established its roots in Scandinavia and Finland, it became a major religion south and east of the Gulf of Finland. As early as 1655, there were 58 parishes, 36 churches and 42 pastors.
The number of congregations remained stable under tsarist rule. These congregations were part of one united Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Russian Empire, which was dominated by Germans. After the persecutions of the 1920s-1950s, ethnic Ingrians and Finns began to gather together, even managing to establish a few legally registered Lutheran congregations in northwestern Russia (under the administration of the Estonian Lutheran Church) in the 1970s. But the real rebirth of church structures and congregational life began in the 1990s. M ost of the congregations are in Ingria, but there also some established as far away as Murmansk on the Artic Ocean, Voronezh in south-central Russia, in Siberia and on the Pacific Ocean coast.
The Church of Ingria has active missionary, youth, and diaconal committees. Education is also a priority. The main educational center of the Ingrian Church is the Theological Institute of the Church of Ingria.How do the the companions in Russia and the ELCA accompany one another?
The seminary facilities of the Ingrian church, located outside of St. Petersburg, Russia
Through the churchwide ELCA Global Mission unit, the ELCA relates to and is in bilateral relationship with over 80 companion churches and institutions. The ELCA Global Mission unit stewards a church-to-church relationship with ELCIR and ELC.
This relationship is deepened by several companion synod relationships. ELCIR is in a companion relationship with the Norhteastern Minnesota Synod. ELCER is in a companion synod relationship with the Northwest Washington Synod, and the Central States synod is in a companion relationship with ELCUSFE.Churchwide funding
through the ELCA Global Mission unit supports key priorities identified by these companions, including theological education for both clergy and lay leadership. The ELCA participates the sponsorship of a missionary in ELCUSFE in Siberia. It also supports the ministries of the French-speaking Lutheran congregation in Moscow and the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy.The Lutheran World Federation
The Lutheran World Federation, with a membership of 140 churches (including the ELCA) and 68 million people, the LWF provides space for Lutherans from around the world to share joys, challenges, and expertise as they seek the healing of the world. ELCA World Hunger funds help support the Department for World Service (DWS), the LWF’s relief and development arm, and the Department for Mission and Development (DMD), which focuses on holistic ministries through which the church participates in God’s mission to all creation.
ELCA World Hunger funds help support the work of LWF Department for Mission and Development in Russia through the following focuses:
- Joint communication service
- Enhanced governing, communion building and missional structures
- Theological education at Novosaratovka
- Improvement of medical ethics and health care for HIV in the Odessa Region
Russia: The context in which the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and Other States and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ingria serve
A newly renovated church in the Kremlin
Following the demise of the Soviet Union, which officially made all republics independent by parliamentary resolution on December 26, 1991, Russia took over the Soviet Union Security Council seat, claimed the former embassies by putting a Russian flag over them, and was also saddled with the foreign debt that the Soviet Union had accumulated. Over 145 million people live in Russia. The official language is Russian, though various other languages are spoken as well among minority ethnic groups. The dominant religion is Russian Orthodox Christianity, though perhaps ten percent of the population is Muslim.
Russia ended 2004 with its sixth straight year of growth, averaging 6.5% annually since the financial crisis of 1998 (though there has been a decrease in the rate of growth since the 2nd half of 2004). The country’s foreign debt has been greatly reduced and its cash reserves greatly increased. Nevertheless, serious problems persist. Oil, natural gas, metals, and timber account for more than 80% of exports, leaving the country vulnerable to swings in world prices. Russia's manufacturing base is dilapidated and must be replaced or modernized if the country is to achieve broad-based economic growth. Other problems include a weak banking system, a poor business climate that discourages both domestic and foreign investors, corruption, and widespread lack of trust in institutions. Politically, the rise in authoritarianism has not caused a backlash in part due to the economic anarchy, corruption, and living conditions for the majority of the population, which are as poor as those experienced under communism. Environmental concerns include air and water pollution, management of wastes newly generated as well as older toxic, chemical and radioactive wastes.
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