A glance at the situation of the Lutheran Deanery of the Far East in Russia at the beginning of 2018 , but we are intensely living still today!! Have a look on our website www.luthvostok.com
When now writing this narrative reporting, I of course compare it with the last one given to you February 2017. Some things are still the same, but some have changed and are in the process of changing , and there not to a better situation, but not simply to a worse situation, but let’s say so: to a more realistic situation, and that means also to a better situation as to our Christian consciousness and responsibility. We have to know, whereto we have come and where we are standing now, means, what we are loosing and what we have gained and what we are gaining more and more.
Let me say this, and don’t feel offended: When I studied theology, our professor once asked us “What is the god of the Americans?”, and I answered “the fact”, and he found it a good answer. To know the facts, to be realistic, is very important, but there is also still the vision, and that is also very Christian.
Let me quote 1 John 3, 2 “ Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed , what we shall be, but we know, that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him, as He is”
I don’t want to preach here, but only to show you, that we are in a process of becoming more and more, what we shall be...
So let’s begin with the facts, but then come into the process we are experiencing.
The fact is, that we in the deanery of the Far East are still 9 congregations: St Paul’s Wladiwostok,St Luke’s Arsenjeff, St Matthew’s Chita, St Catherine’s Komsomolsk, St Mary’s Ussuriijsk, St John’s Cabaroffsk, St Mark’s Magadan, a congregation in Sokol, a congregation in Blagoweschtschensk.
The distances in the deanery of the Far East are enormous (see www.luthvostok 22.03.2014), therefore the official journeys are very expensive.
We have still 2 pastors: dean Manfred Brockmann in Wladiwostok and pastor Alexander Lapotschenko in Arsenjeff. We have still 8 preachers: 2 in Wladiwostok, 1 in Komosmolsk, 1 in Ussuriijsk, 1 in Chabaroffsk, 1 in Magadan,1 in Sokol, 1 in Blagoweschtschensk and in Chita 1 lecturer. Preachers and lecturers work for nothing, we train them sometimes on seminars.
Pastor Lapotschenko gets his salary from the CSS, partner congregation Trinity Luth Church Great Bend KS, Dean M Brockmann lives of his pension. It must be marked, that the organist of St Paul’s plays without a salary, a great seldom thing.
Also the leader of the little church choir Swetlana Atajewa works without salary. Also the women doing work with mothers and children, Swetlana Waschanowa does her engaged work without salary, though getting every year some financial support from a congregation in Indianapolis, by our great friend Dave Hunden. The organist of St Luke’s Arsenjeff gets some little money from the budget of the there congregation. You know, that music I very important in our Lutheran church.
Several congregations have their own apartments= places, where to meet, as Chabaroffsk, Ussuriijsk, Komsomolsk, Magadan, St Luke’s Arsenjeff has a little house with garden, in Wladiwostok we have our wonderful St Paul’s church. The congregations are maintaining their places partly by themselves, additional financial help comes from the deanery.
We are working on to build partnership-relations from each of our congregations to a congregation abroad. (see to this the article “A twenty-three years partnership…” www.luthvostok.com 03.08.2015); and this will also be the theme of our 25th deanery seminar July 2018. 22 – 29. But the really most vivid
partnership-relation is that between St Luke’s Arsenjeff and Trinity Luth Church Great Bend; there very merited Pastor Jim Strasen and now pastor John Brudvig!
The difficulties we are undergoing force us to a process of changing.
The 3 great burdens are
1) So many people have left us going to the west, and are still leaving the Far East ( see for instance the article “ Don’t run away! Stay!” www.luthvostok.com 1.1.2016. or our 20th Culture Days in Wladiwostok “ Sept 22 – Oct 10 2016. “ People leave their countries. Why do they do that?” www.luthvostok.com 07.10.2016. )
2) The problem of Exhaustion; Life is hard, people are tired. But especially there our church shows, of what a great importance it is for our people. That especially there, where there is a church building and a pastor, as in Wladiwostok and in Arsenjeff. Therefore the bitterness of the dean: up to now we did not get an additional pastor for instance in Chabaroffsk and Komsomolsk.
These congregations are without a pastor since the engaged pastor Lesinski left them 2002. Two times our consistory and our bishop has the plan to send a pastor there, but the first was sent to Tomsk, the other fled away to Germany… And a great shame, that a German missions society said: “We don’t send a pastor there, because these are dying congregations “. That should be a reason to send a pastor there, for there are important towns and faithful people!
3) A very concrete problematic fact is, that the town of Magadan is shrinking in population, and so people of St Mark’s congregation are leaving to the west. We have the task to sell the there congregation apartment, which occurs to be very difficult.
But now at the end the positive facts to which we are forced by this process:
1)We learn more and more, that we can only work with those, who show faithfulness and strength and we have these people
2)We come more and more to self-financing : by a) our so called concerts in St Paul’s, which are in reality spiritual musical evenings, whereto people give their money for a “ticket” b) by “hiring out” our St Paul’s church. c) by free will donations or collects of our people
3)So we are in a process to learn more and more, whereupon we can rely: God’s word and the faithfulness of our people, who don’t leave us!
And by all this Russia again demonstrates, that it is, - in its best representatives,- a very Christian religious gifted and donated country, that’s also the reason, why so many people abroad know and esteem us.
These words of 2.Corinthians 6,9 are really also words for us “ as unknown, and yet well known; a dying, and behold we live”
Manfred Brockmann, dean of the Russian Far East.
Wladiwostok, April 02.2018.