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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Blog -- Witness, Mercy, Life Together

Check out the new blog Witness, Mercy, Life Together. « The first post is by President Harrison titled, “Whoever believes what the Gospel declares, has what it says.” -- Martin Luther.

On a regular basis President Harrison, First Vice-President Mueller, Dr. Ray Hartwig, Rev. Jon Vieker, Barbara Below, and Dr. Collver will each contribute to the blog.

Come and check it out! If there is something you want to hear about, let us know.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

House Mountain Hike

West Overlook of House Mountain in Knox County
On the day my family and I drove back to Saint Louis from Knoxville, Tennessee -- after I had spent a week in Nashville for the Fall Leadership Conference, my son, my father, me, and Coco, an English Cockerspaniel hiked to the top of House Mountain in Knox County. House Mountain is the highest point in Knox County, rising 2,100 feet above sea-level. While the ground is hilly, this is East Tennessee, this ridge seems to rise out of nowhere above the surrounding landscape. This mountain is about 8 miles or so from my parents house and a place that I have hiked and bicycled many, many times.  The geologists say House Mountain was formed when the North American plate collided with Africa, resulting in the ground here in Knox County to buckle, forming the "mountain." As for the date of this event -- well no point in quibbling over a few years -- at least in my mind occurred when Noah and his crew of seven (total of eight) was sailing his ark around the world. You can read about House Mountain at the official Tennessee State Government website here or on Wikipedia here.

The 3 mile hike took us a little less than 1 1/2 hours, but keep in mind it is a 1,000 foot climb up, plus a boy and a dog. Well, the dog was no problem. She charged ahead, even climbing the rock ledge of the West Overlook by herself. While she had no fear of the ledge, we did and thought it best to help her down lest her descent be more rapid than anyone, including her, would like.

Coco on the rock ledge
View from Top of House Mountain
It always is difficult to capture what the view looks like. Below is a video that might give a little better idea. Seeing this kind of makes me want to sing Rocky Top.

Here are some more photos from the hike up House Mountain. Below the photos is a map of the House Mountain State Nature area.

House Mtn

Friday, November 26, 2010

O Christmas Tree, Black Friday, Thanksgiving 2010

Kit and Grandpa Preparing to Cut Tree Down
On so-called "black" Friday, our family followed a long standing tradition of going to cut down a Christmas tree in Tennessee, near House Mountain. The selection of trees was rather limited due to a drought that killed nearly 3,000 trees this year.  Nonetheless, we managed to find a Christmas tree.

The video was shot and made on my iPhone 4 using iMovie for the iPhone. Amazing what this little device can do.

We cut our tree at T-n_T Tree Farm. T-n-T Tree Farm is owned and operated by Douglas and James Toliver. White pine, Virginia pine and Scotch pine are all available, and this farm will be open daily from November 23 to December 22. Hours are Monday thru Friday from noon till dusk, Saturday from 9 am till dusk, and Sunday 1 pm till dusk. Wreaths are also available, and hot drinks are served to patrons. T-n-T is located at 8237 Millertown Pike, Knoxville, Tennessee 37924. Feel free to contact them for any questions at 865-932-0658 or 865-919-8118. Also, they can be reached by email at

Sun setting behind the ridge
Here are a few other photos.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Worldwide -- Witness, Mercy, Life Together

Sign on Silesian Lutheran Headquarters

This post is much less about the Silesian Lutherans that I have written so much about lately, and more about the Synodical Emphasis of Witness, Mercy, and Life Together. One thing I have noticed in my travels to various churches throughout the world is that nearly every church focuses on three areas summarized by witness, mercy, and life together. Various churches do not necessarily call their work by these names, nonetheless, this is the work that they do. I was rather surprised (and pleased) when I saw that the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession had an evangelism department, a diakonia department that is celebrating its 20th year, and a church fellowship department.

Evangelism (Witness) Area of Silesian Church
Witness Emphasis for LCMS

In John 1:19 - 20, the words for witness (martyria) and confess (homologein) are used interchangeably. For the past several years or so, it seems as if the Missouri Synod has been engaged in a struggle over "evangelism / witnessing" and "confessing / remaining confessionally faithful." St. John, the Evangelist, shows that "witness" and "confession" are synonyms and that they belong together. A person cannot witness the truth unless the confession is correct and orthodox. A person retain the orthodox confession without bearing witness to it. Witnessing and Confessing are two sides of the same coin. In ecclesiastical terminology, a "martyr" is a person who gave his or her life bearing witness to Jesus. A "confessor"is a person who did not lose his or her life but who stood before the authorities, kings, or governors and confessed the truth about Jesus at risk to life and limb. Therefore, Robert Barnes is a confessor and martyr, while Martin Luther is only a confessor. Ignatius of Antioch was a martyr, while Cyril of Alexandria was a confessor. Witnessing leads to confessing and confessing leads to witnessing.

Diakonia (Mercy) Area of Silesian Church

Mercy Emphasis for the LCMS

Church Fellowship (Life Together) Area for Silesian Church
Life Together Emphasis for LCMS
In the Missouri Synod, it seems that every new Synodical President brings a different emphasis, slogan, or program to the church. In some ways, this is inevitable and not entirely bad. The time in which a given President serves requires that Law and Gospel be divided for the church at that time and for him to focus on what he believes is most necessary at that moment. This is simply providing pastoral care to the Synod as a whole, not unlike what a new pastor does upon arriving in a congregation. President Harrison's office has strived to not call Witness, Mercy, Life Together a program or slogan, but rather an emphasis. Witness, Mercy, Life Together isn't really anything new. It is really just what the church does as she lives under the cross of Jesus. What these areas are called isn't ultimately important, simply that the church carries these out. The example from the Silesian church shows that Missouri Synod isn't alone in the task but the Christian church throughout the world engages in Witness, Mercy, and Life Together -- even if different church bodies and groups of Christians call it something different.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Silesian Diakonia Work

Here are some photos of the diakonia work in Silesia. They are celebrating 20 years of work.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Technology Enhances But Doesn't Replace ... <fill in the blank> education

Today on the plane from Amsterdam to Detroit, I read a fascinating piece in Financial Times that has implications for theological education. The cartoon above is from the article. The article was titled, Technology Enhances But Doesn't Replace.

The article explores distance learning for MBA degrees. The author noted that surprisingly the demand for residential MBA programs has increased during the economic crisis. The expectation was that residential programs would decrease while online and distance programs would increase. However, the opposite happened.

The author explores why this might be. The author notes, "Learning in a group enables participants to pick up the subtleties of the interactions that are essential to management. The ability to understand not only what is said, but what is not, to negotiate and ultimately persuade is as important as having the right facts."

The point is that face to face interaction enhances the learning environment in a way that technology alone cannot. It isn't that a person cannot learn via distance education but that in general it is not the same as a residential program. The author concludes, "Online is better than nothing for those too constrained by cost or time to come together to learn. But that is a different kind of management degree."

The business world is now recognizing that there is value in residential programs for MBA degrees. If true for business, how much more so for residential theological education. Distance learning has it's place and is valuable but it is a different kind of theological degree than a residential program.

In any case, this is not a diatribe against distant theological education. Just some reflections, on how the business world increasingly values what it once thought unnecessary. Perhaps, a good lesson for us too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Model for Church Government

One of the pastors in the Czech Republic asked me why the Missouri Synod called its bishop "president." The assumption was that a conservative church body would use traditional language. I explained some of the history of the Missouri Synod and Bishop Stephen, etc. And that seem to help in the understanding.

However, I was recently struck by a Herman Sasse quote -- where he says in Europe, church government is modeled after the State. In America, church government is modeled after the corporation or business. This is an interesting observation. The church is always at tension in this world and will pick up characteristics from one thing or another. Historically in Europe it was from the government while in America it was business.

Here is the Sasse Quote:

"The church administration in Europe follows the patterns of the administration of the state, while in American the great business organizations seem to be unknowingly imitated by the churches. The consequence is that also the parish minister becomes more and more of an administrator and organizer who rushes from meeting to meeting and has not enough time for his proper calling as a shepherd."

 -- Hermann Sasse

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Working Agreement with the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession

Bob Rosin, Brent Smith, Albert Collver,
Bishop Stanislav Pietak, Bishop Jan Waclawek, Adam Cieslar
Sign Working Agreement
Working Agreement Between the SCEAV and LCMS
On Saturday, 13 November 2010, a working agreement between the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession (SCEAV) and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) was signed. Now this working agreement did not recognize no differences in doctrine, nor did it enter the two churches into pulpit and altar fellowship. This agreement calls for the two churches to have regular contact between the church leadership, the holding of theological lectures and convocations, and invitations to each other's theological presentations. There is a call for cooperation in diakonal work -- in fact, the LCMS has worked with the SCEAV in diakonal projects before this agreement. At the convention, Bishop Pietak thanked the LCMS for the working together in diakonal projects (a future post will show one of the SCEAV's diakonal projects). The hope of the agreement is that further contact between our two churches will "give us the opportunity to more fully realize our unity as Lutheran Christians so that on the basis of agreement in doctrine and practice the two churches may share full altar and pulpit fellowship." The LCMS' working agreement is modeled after the agreement SELK (our German partner church) has with the SCEAV.

The City Church is next to the headquarters of the SCEAV
The SCEAV Synod Convention opened with worship in the city church. This congregation is simply known as the city church.

The Sanctuary of the city church

A Czech Hymn with a familiar melody

Brent Smith, Bishop Pietak, Albert Collver, Bob Rosin in the city church
In the SCEAV's convention, we were able to hear some of the projects they are working on and the challenges and struggles they face. The SCEAV has about 35 pastors, 100 church workers, 21 congregations, about 15,000 members who regularly attend church and another 15,000 members who attend for baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Despite being much smaller than the LCMS, the SCEAV and LCMS face many of the same struggles -- faithfulness to the Scriptures and the Confessions, decreasing gifts and offerings, etc. In one of the papers presented to the convention, Pastor Marek Rican focused on three areas of emphasis and challenges for the Silesian church: 1) the Sacraments -- regular use and the belief in the real presence, 2) Law and Gospel distinction, and 3) Lutheran identity.

Voting at the SCEAV Convention
Voting is much simpler at the SCEAV convention -- a numbered piece of paper raised in the air. Unlike LCMS conventions, there were no jokes, training sessions, or complaints about "electronic" voting. No tutorial was needed -- just raise your hand with your number.

It was a great experience and privilege being invited to attend the SCEAV Synod Convention.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Works of Mercy and Church Unity

Here is an article in the Fall 2010, Concordia Journal, that I wrote titled, "Works of Mercy and Church Unity: Does Service Unify and Doctrine Divide?" The article does trace out the term "cooperation in externals" and offers a suggestion on the circumstances or boundaries for cooperation in externals. The entire Fall 2010 issue of Concordia Journal can be downloaded here.

Works of Mercy and Church Unity CJfall10

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jesus Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Cieszyn

Jesus Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Cieszyn
I traveled to the Czech Republic to attend the Synodical Convention of the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession (SECAV). The church is on the boarder of Poland, literally separated by a little river. Rev. Brent Smith and Dr. Robert Rosin also are here. More on the SECAV's convention later. During a break, Pastor Marek Rican of the SECAV took me across the boarder to see the Jesus Church in Cieszyn, Poland.

The story of Lutheranism in Silesia (parts of Poland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia) is that of Lutheranism under the cross. The Lutheran Reformation reached Silesia by the mid-1520s. Kasper Schwenkfeld helped introduce the Reformation to Silesia, but soon the Reformation teaching was lost -- even to the point of rejecting the doctrine of Justification. Others taught Lutheranism faithfully in Silesia. In 1540, Waclaw III Adam accepted the teachings of Luther. His entire Duchy was Lutheran. Until the 30 years war Silesia was a Lutheran territory. Waclaw III Adam's son forsook his father's Lutheran confession and became Roman Catholic. The Lutherans had their churches taken away in 1654. For 55 year Lutherans worshiped secretly in the forests.

Commemoration of the Lutherans who had to worship in the forests
Pastor Jerzy Trzanowski (1592-1637) has been called the "Martin Luther" to the Slavic people, taught, preached and produced a Lutheran hymnal that was used for 300 years.

Jerzy Trzanowski (1592-1637)

Pastor Marek Rican talks about Jerzy Trzanowski

In 1709, the foundation for Jesus Church was laid in Cieszyn. The church was completed in 1750.

Chancel Area
Because there were so many Lutherans in the area, the church was designed to hold about 6,000 people at a time.

The pulpit is in the center of the church
The baptism font is shaped like a chalice

Plaque to Pastor Karol Kulisz (1873-1940)
Pastor Karol Kulisz started the diakonical work of the Silesian Lutheran church. He died in a concentration camp in 1940. Today, there is a strong tradition of diakonial work due to Pastor Kulisz.

The Silesian Lutheran Church has faced many hardships. It is conservative in that it holds to the Scriptures and has resisted higher criticism. In the late 1958s, the Silesian Lutheran Church ordained its first female clergyman; however, generally speaking there are very few female pastors. The recent decisions of the ELCA and the LWF have caused these churches to move in a more historic position.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

GWFT: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah

Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah Bible Study I wrote for CPH
A Bible study I wrote for Concordia Publishing House was recently published. You can order it from CPH here.

Each study in the God’s Word for Today series provides an in-depth exploration of a book of the Bible. Each session includes:

background information on the book of the Bible, its author, audience, occasion, and purpose
learning experiences that promote exciting and challenging discussions;

notes for leaders that answer questions, suggest a learning process, and provide additional information;
discussion starters that help participants apply God’s Word to their daily lives.

Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah were written to call God's people to repent of their sins, to excercise justice among the oppressed, and to look to the Messiah. Although written against Nineveh, Nahum brings "good news" to believers. In this evil world of ours, Habakkuk declares that "the righteous will live" Zephaniah points to the "day of the LORD," when His people will be saved and the wicked punished. In this study you will

  • see how these prophets proclaim both Law and Gospel;
  • apply their teachings to your own life and the life of the Church;
  • rejoice in the hope of Christ's second coming on the Last Day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Biblical Terms: Witness, Mercy and Fellowship

The Biblical Terms: Witness, Mercy, and Life Together

On Monday, the guys at Issues, Etc. had me on the air to talk about Witness, Mercy, and Life Together. You can listen to it on the Issues, Etc. site here. You can also listen to the audio below.

Right click above button and do "save as" 

My son came to the Issues, Etc. studio with me. Kit had a great time. He asked lots of questions... I think he talked their ears off. In any case, Kit is very excited and wants to visit again. He might even receive his Boy Scout "communications" badge for this.

Kit, Todd Wilken, abc3+

Kit and Todd Wilken

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Portsmouth Township man receives Purple Heart 65 years after being wounded in World War II battle

Yesterday my family celebrated my grandfather's 85th birthday. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be there to celebrate with them. However, this morning, the local Bay City Times ran a story about my grandfather's regiment that he served in 65 years ago in World War II. My grandfather received his medals just a couple of week ago.

Medals Albert Caspers, my grandfather received, for serving in WWII
While growing up I knew my grandfather fought in WWII. Occasionally, he would mention it or tell some story, but generally speaking he was silent about his service and what he saw. I don't think any of us realized that he was in a unit that singlehandedly stopped the German advance in their sector during a snow storm in December 1944. Quite proud of my grandfather. Besides his service to his country, my grandfather is largely the reason I am a Lutheran today.

The original Bay City Times story, just in time for Veterans Day, can be found here. It is reproduced below.

By Tim Younkman  |  For The Bay City Times

Michael Randolph | The Bay City Times. Albert Caspers, 85, recently received his World War II medals. He has two purple hearts, a bronze star for bravery and  3 battle stars. His division, the 99th Infantry, was in the Battle of the Bulge among others.

PORTSMOUTH TWP. — It’s been 65 years since a wounded U.S. Army private from Bay County was carried from the battlefield to a combat hospital, earning a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for bravery under fire.

Although 85-year-old Albert Caspers, of Portsmouth Township, earned the right to the medals during combat in Europe, he didn’t received them until a few weeks ago.

“Yes, it’s been 65 years but I’ve finally got them,” said Caspers, relating how he was able to receive his hard-earned hardware.

“I was talking about a year ago with a veteran’s service officer and he asked if I had ever been given the medals and I said I hadn’t, so he gave me some forms to fill out,” Caspers said. “That was last year and the Army finally sent me the medals.”

Although modest about discussing his wartime experiences, as Veterans Day approaches, Caspers says he’s proud to have the medals, which include two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and three Battle Stars, including one for the Battle of the Bulge.

Caspers' Purple Heart

Caspers was working on the family farm on Tuscola Road, the same land where he still lives, when he was drafted in March 1944 at the age of 18. After completing basic training in Texas, he and the rest of the newly-formed 99th Infantry Division were shipped overseas in September 1944, first to England and then to France.

Caspers was a rifleman in Company L of the 395th Regiment, riding and walking across France. The division’s history notes the regiment was deployed outside the German town of Hofen near the Belgian border and a short distance from the vaunted Siegfried Line.

“That’s when the Battle of the Bulge started,” Caspers recalled. “That’s where the Bronze Star came in. The whole company earned it, really. That’s also where I first was wounded, although it wasn’t real serious and I was able to keep going.”

Caspers and some of his comrades were in the basement of a building when a bomb detonated near them and he was wounded.

Historians note the Battle of the Bulge along the Belgian border was the last main offensive undertaken by the Germans in a desperate effort to gain a victory and force peace talks. It was the largest single battle of the war involving American troops with a combined total of 1.3 million men.

Caspers’ regiment was cited by the Army as being the lone unit to have stopped the German advance in their sector in the freezing December weather and heavy snow, actually driving the German attackers into retreat.

Photo of Albert Caspers upon his discharge
following World War II in 1945.

After a month of combat, the Battle of the Bulge was over and Caspers’ unit, along with the rest of the division, moved south toward the Rhine River.

“Our division was the first entire infantry division to cross the bridge at Remagen,” he said, the pride in that achievement still evident in his voice.

The Ludendorff Bridge at the town of Remagen was the only bridge left standing over the Rhine, even though German sappers had attempted to blow it up, weakening it. A large number of American troops and equipment crossed the river before the bridge finally collapsed.   The bridge later became the subject of several motion pictures.

After crossing the bridge and moving further into Germany, the 395th Regiment was deployed near Marburg. During the battle to take the area around the city, Caspers was struck by a German bullet, which pierced his stomach, narrowly missing his spine.

“A half-inch over and I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

But the wound was severe and he was fortunate that several of his buddies dragged him out of the line of fire and medics picked him up. He was rushed into a field hospital during the battle.

“If it wasn’t for the work they did on me in that field hospital, I’d never have made it either,” he said.
After initial surgery, he was taken to a hospital in France and then to England before being shipped home to other Army hospitals in Kansas and in Battle Creek in June 1945. As he recovered, Caspers was discharged from the military in October 1945.

He returned home to the farm and began dating a young woman who lived nearby. It wasn’t long before the two were engaged and married. He and his wife, Evelyn, recently celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary.

Besides operating the farm, Caspers went to work at Steering Gear in Saginaw, retiring in 1987.

While his military career lasted about 19 months six decades ago, the suffering and sacrifice he endured as a young man finally was recognized with the array of medals he now displays.

He proudly notes he has been a long-time member of both the Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations.

When asked if there was any ceremony attached to his receiving the medals, he laughed.
“No, there was no ceremony. They just came through the mail.”

© 2010 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LCMS, SELC conduct fellowship discussions

From Reporter Online

LCMS, SELC conduct fellowship discussions

By Albert B. Collver

On Oct. 28, a delegation from the LCMS consisting of Dr. Albert Collver, the Synod's director of Church Relations -- assistant to the president; Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR); and Dr. Timothy Quill, dean of International Studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW), landed at Novosibirsk, in Siberia, Russia, for theological discussions with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC). With those discussions, the two church bodies are closer to being in altar and pulpit fellowship with each other.

Before arriving in Siberia, Collver, Lehenbauer and Quill stopped in St. Petersburg, Russia, to meet with leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria (ELCI). During that meeting, ELCI Bishop Rev. Arri Kugappi expressed appreciation for the partnership between the LCMS and the ELCI, and said that he was pleased to see the expansion of Lutheranism in Russia.

Prior to the Communist Revolution in 1917, membership in the Lutheran Church in Russia numbered more than a million. By 1939, nearly every Lutheran pastor and congregation in Russia ceased to exist.

Kugappi also encouraged the LCMS discussions with the SELC, indicating that he looks forward to working cooperatively with both the LCMS and SELC in the future.

In 1998, church leaders of the future SELC sent a preliminary letter to LCMS President Dr. Alvin L. Barry and the Synod stating their desire to seek fellowship with the LCMS after obtaining autonomy from the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELC). In 2003, the SELC received its autonomy from the EELC.

On Dec. 5, 2003, the SELC sent an official request to "open a doctrinal dialogue with The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, possibly leading to a declaration of altar and pulpit fellowship with your church."

During the intervening years, a variety of visits and letters were exchanged between the two church bodies, which did not lead to fellowship discussions. On Jan. 27, 2010, SELC Bishop Rev. Vsevolod Lytkin and Rev. Alexei Streltsov, rector of the theological seminary of the SELC and the appointed church relations officer, returned to St. Louis for discussions with representatives of the LCMS.

In July 2010, Lytkin sent a letter to then LCMS President-elect Rev. Matthew C. Harrison. In that letter, Lytkin wrote, "With your election and introduction in the office of the president, discussions between our church bodies concerning church fellowship will gain new momentum and will come to a proper conclusion."

The trip by LCMS officials in October was Harrison's response to Lytkin's letter.

Representing the SELC in that Oct. 19 meeting at the Lutheran Center in the Akademgorodok (Academic City), Novosibirsk, Siberia, were Lytkin, Streltsov and Rev. Pavel Khramov, a member of the SELC consistory.

The LCMS and SELC representatives at the meeting affirmed belief in the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures as the rule and norm of faith, and unconditional subscription (quia) to The Book of Concord (the Lutheran Confessions). Other topics of discussion included fellowship with other Lutheran church bodies, ordination of women, the doctrine of the ministry, church structure and the Office of the Keys.

During the discussions, Lytkin stated, "From our point of view, we are in fellowship with the Missouri Synod."

The LCMS delegation concurred that while differences in practice exist in some areas, there are no differences in the doctrine confessed.

Lehenbauer, making his first visit to Novosibirsk, said, "I am greatly impressed by the dedication of the SELC pastors and people to the Gospel of Christ, the Lutheran Confessions and service to their community, and am grateful to God for this opportunity to solidify and deepen the relationship between the SELC and LCMS."

"This is a joyful day to see a recognition of doctrinal unity after 14 years of the Russian Project," Quill said.

In 1996, Russian-speaking students from the former Soviet Union were brought to Concordia Theological Seminary as part of the newly created Russian Project. Quill was called to that seminary as the first director of the Russian Project. Nearly 40 students from Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia and Lithuania took advantage of this program.

In 1997, CTSFW and the Lutheran Church in Siberia jointly opened Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk. This came about due to a plea from Lytkin to CTSFW President Dr. Dean Wenthe for help with pastoral training in Russia. It was also made possible by the encouragement of LCMS President Barry and financial support from the Marvin M. Schwan Charitable Foundation.

Reflecting on the joint work of the SELC and LCMS, Lytkin said, "We are very grateful for the help we have received from the LCMS over the years -- especially the theological training of our clergy. This has helped them to be better pastors and missionaries. We have great respect for President Wenthe and the professors at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. They have trained many of our pastors and laypeople in Russia at the Novosibirsk Seminary and at the seminary in Fort Wayne. We are very grateful to the LCMS parish pastors who have taught at our seminary in Novosibirsk and at our theological seminars throughout Siberia."

"It was marvelous to observe the level of theological discernment and commitment to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions among the Siberian Lutherans," Quill said. "The Siberian Lutherans displayed a remarkable capacity to engage in theological conversation in which they articulated a thoughtful and serious commitment to the Lutheran heritage. They have demonstrated an ardent desire to establish a Lutheran church that is both Russian in character and whose doctrine and practice is carefully shaped by Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions."

Collver, who has taught at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Siberia several times, remarked during the discussions, "Missouri and Siberia share a common faith, united in the Scriptures and the Confessions, under Christ Jesus. We have doctrinal unity."

With the recognition of doctrinal unity, some additional steps hopefully to be completed by December 2010 will occur from the Missouri Synod side in accord with the new fellowship resolution (Res. 3-04A) adopted by the 2010 Synod Convention. A protocol document outlining the agreement between the LCMS and SELC is forthcoming. In accord with Synod Bylaws, President Harrison will consult with the LCMS Praesidium. Lehenbauer will make a recommendation to the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), which is scheduled to meet Dec. 16-18.

After these steps are completed, the LCMS and the SELC will be in fellowship, which will then be presented to the 2013 Synod convention for ratification.

Dr. Albert B. Collver is The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod's director of Church Relations -- assistant to the president.

Posted Nov. 2, 2010

Location:Международное ш.,,Russia

Novokuznetsk -- Monuments Et Al

One of Two Stalin Monuments in Russia Today
With my flight delayed in Novosibirsk (and at this rate, I will miss my connection in Moscow -- thanks Aeroflot), I thought I would post a couple of pictures from Novokuznetsk (which means something like "new mine" -- as it was a new mining town at the beginning of the 20th century. Fyodor Dostoevsky married his first wife Maria here in 1857. This town also was central to Stalin's rapid industrialization of Russia after he took power -- hence the monument to him here. The monument is rather fascinating as it has two sides: one side is Stalin and the other is Peter the Great. Two figures who introduced rapid and massive change to Russia. In a sense, at least at this monument to borrow from hermeneutics. Peter the Great is the "type", while Joseph Stalin is the "anti-type." Alexei Streltsov reads and explains the monuments briefly in the videos below.

Monument to Peter the Great
Novokuznetsk is a mining town. Coal and various metals are mined and processed here. The air has a unique smell due to the things burned. The sky has a look due to the smoke. I was struck by how close residences were to the industrial plants. For instance, a coal burning electric power plant would be immediately next to an apartment building (I saw this not in Novokuznetsk but in a town outside of Novokuznetsk).

A Factory or Processing Plant in Novokuznetsk

Peter the Great Video

Stalin Video

We also saw a fort in Novokuznetsk. It was a fort used to defend the city a few hundred years ago. It also was used as a hold out for the white army as they fought against the Bolsheviks. The fort was also used to detain and execute enemies of the state. Lt. General Putilov, a famous hero of the Russian Empire, was executed here for rebelling against the Bolsheviks.

A Monument Dedicated to Lt. General Putilov
Here are some more photos... this is what we did after the Reformation celebration.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Siberia Update

Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, Rev. Pavel Khromev, Bishop Vsveold Lytkin
abc3+, Rev. Alexei Streltsov, Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer
For the past fourteen years, the LCMS (primarily through the work of Dr. Timothy Quill and CTSFW) has been working with (or at least what would become) the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC). This partnership was one of cooperation, initiated by those in Siberia. A number of Missouri Synod pastors and professors have traveled to Siberia during this time. Those involved have been greatly blessed by the experience. In fact, a group of pastors and lay-people in the Missouri Synod founded the Siberian Lutheran Mission Society to assist this church. (You can read more about the work there on their website.)

Several years ago, the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church requested church fellowship discussions with the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod. Last spring, a delegation from Siberia visited the International Center in Saint Louis. In late October of 2010 (for Reformation), a group from the Missouri Synod consisting of Drs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, and Timothy Quill travelled to Siberia for discussions with the SELC. The discussions went very well. Stay tuned for more information later.

St. Andrew Mosaic in Lutheran Center

Rev. Khromev and Bishop Lytkin

Lutheran Center in Novosibirsk, Russia