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Synod convention in Ukraine elects new council; plans for future

November 26, 2010 No Comment

The annual convention of the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches of Ukraine (SELCU) met at the new Concordia Seminary building in Usatovo, a suburb of Odessa, November 23-25.

SELCU Soviet (Board of Directors) Rev. Alexey Navrotsky (Dnepropetrovsk), Rev. Rudolph Krause (Yalta), Bishop Viktor Gräfenstein (Odessa), Michail Kmit (Kagarlik, Odessa), Gennady Miller (Octyberskoe, Nikolayev); Rev. Alexander Kostuk (Ostrovka), Rev. Eugen Frank (Pervomayskoe).

The convention began with an opening service during which Bishop Gräfenstein preached on Genesis 45:24 with the theme “Do not quarrel on the journey.” The gathering included 14 guests from the pastoral conference of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine (DELKU). At the end of the service the convention heard greetings from President Robert Bugbee via Dr. Norman Threinen and from the guest representing DELKU.

Once in session, the convention included the election of the bishop. “We had four nominations,” reports Pastor Oleg Schewtschenko. ”After lots of prayers, some talking and voting, we elected Rev. Viktor Gräfenstein to be our bishop for the next five years.”

Bishop Gräfenstein, in addition to his administrative work, is pastor of the SELCU congregation at Odessa in a multiple-staff arrangement with Rev. Schewtschenko.

The convention also elected a new “soviet” (the Russian word for “council”), which fulfills duties similar to Lutheran Church–Canada’s Board of Directors. The incoming council includes Pastor Alexey Navrotskiy, LCC’s missionary in the eastern city of Dnepropetrovsk.

Business sessions included reports from individual congregations and pastors and planning the synod’s calendar of events for the coming year. “We planned the big events of our synod for 2011, like evangelism programs, summer camp, youth and children’s programs, and retreats for women and men,” Pastor Schewtschenko noted.

Students at Concordia Seminary, Odessa recently received long-awaited copies of the Book of Concord in Russian.

Dr. Norman Threinen, as president of the Ukraine seminary, presented the seminary’s report to the convention. Delegates then discussed ways for SELCU congregations to support financially this important work.

After teaching at the seminary since September, Dr. Threinen is returning to his home in Summerland, B.C., and has scheduled additional teachers to continue with classes in the New Year.

“We treasure the ties the Lord has given us with this developing church in Ukraine,” remarked President Bugbee.  “God’s Word is growing there as it often does, not without challenges and setbacks, but also in a way that surprises and delights us when we see what He has done over the 14 years SELCU has been functioning.”

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