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Ukrainian Lutherans celebrate blessings

January 22, 2018 No Comment

by Rev. Leonardo Neitzel

UKRAINE – The alliance between Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) and the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Ukraine (SELCU) since 1996 has been a blessing for our joint ministry and mission in that country.

Pastor Navrotskyy (far right) and the Nikolaev congregation in its newly-renovated church.

Rev. Roland Syens and Rev. Keith Haberstock were commissioned as LCC’s first missionaries to Ukraine in 1993 and started the work which today shows its fruits for the Lord’s kingdom. Since the partnership began LCC — with support from generous donors, Concordia Lutheran Mission Society (CLMS), and Lutheran Women’s Missionary League-Canada (LWMLC) — has sponsored SELCU missions and humanitarian care projects; coordinated and supplied the resources needed for the theological education of pastors at Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Osatowo, Odessa; maintained a fulltime missionary originally in Dnepropetrovsk and now in Nikolaev; and regularly provided SELCU with human and financial resources for its summer and winter ministries and mission outreach.

Coinciding with the celebrations of 500 years of the Reformation, 2017 was a special year for SELCU’s Gospel proclamation. As an outcome of its summer camp ministry the church body reports new people receiving instruction in the Bible leading to baptism or confirmation. Bible studies in congregations are increasing as well as youth attendance. Congregations report increased involvement in congregational activities and in the front line of Gospel outreach. Special care ministries continue providing for people with special needs. The seminary program rejoices over the admission of a new student. And many special events and celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation along with seminars on Lutheran doctrine and confession have taken place.

Participants in SELCU’s marriage enrichment conference.

Here are some highlights from LCC missionary Rev. Oleksiy Navrotskyy who serves SELCU’s congregation in Nikolaev.

  • More than 50 people attended a marriage enrichment conference put on by the congregations in Dnepropetrovsk and Nikolaev;
  • Summer camps for children restarted with good attendance;
  • Several mission teams from Germany visited and joined in outreach to communities surrounding the Nikolaev congregation. “Such visits not only inspire our congregants, but testify to others outside the church,” reports Rev. Navrotskyy. “We walked out on the streets inviting neighbours to evening services at our church.”
  • Improvements to the Nikolaev sanctuary are completed, Sunday School and Bible study rooms equipped, the sacristy is completed, the church office was refurbished, and a new computer and printer installed, and the church’s registry and archives organized.
  • Increased interaction with non-church members, supporting individuals and families undergoing financial difficulties, and those with emotional or psychological needs.
  • Regular pastoral visits to a regional hospital and to secured units for those addicted to drugs and alcohol. “During our visits we proclaim the Gospel, hand out literature, pray with patients, provide food, clothing and bedding for the unit,” Rev. Navrotskyy noted.
  • Renewed emphasis on regular Elders meetings, Bible studies for the public, youth group Bible studies and activities, Sunday worship, and prayer services.

    Children’s vacation Bible school in Nikolaev

In the conclusion to his report Rev. Navrotskyy writes: “I continue to look to the future with hope in the Lord and much optimism. My dream is that the Lord may create a team of friendly and devoted people who are ready for mission work in Nikolaev and in the surrounding regions. This is not an easy task, but with God it is possible. I pray about this and believe that the Lord will help us build these relationships with people and so, this dream will become a reality. I can say that today we are closer to this goal than when we started a year ago. May the Lord help us.”

Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel is the mission executive for Lutheran Church–Canada.

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