Fri, May 24, 2013
The 65th Regular Convention of the LCMS will take place July 20-25, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. This assembly gives opportunity for worship, nurture, inspiration, fellowship, and the communication of vital information. One contribution in the Convention Workbook is a report on the Eurasia Region. This post is a reproduction of that report.
Consistent with the stated mission of the LCMS and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the LCMS in Eurasia is engaged in sharing the Good News of Jesus with unreached and uncommitted people, with an emphasis on church planting by reconnecting the people to their Christian heritage as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
The population of Eurasia has surpassed one billion people. Currently, 40 percent of the population identifies itself as Muslim, with Muslims being the majority in countries such as Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan. The LCMS in Eurasia currently supports mission initiatives in Germany, England, Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Portugal, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Mongolia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey, and Pakistan.
The Eurasia missionary team currently has 19 career, 6 contracted, and 4 alliance missionaries; also 12 GEOs and 55 accompanying spouses and children. The team includes 18 clergy, 2 deaconesses, one director of Christian education, and 3 rostered teachers. Of the existing personnel, 7 clergy are focused on church planting and 6 on theological education, with additional personnel such as an agronomist, Lutheran educators, physical therapists, and church musicians serving in roles of witness and mercy. GEOs serving in nine locations raise the Lutheran identity and impact at least 3,000 students on a regular basis. During the triennium, coordinators mobilized over 30 short-term teams into 25 locations across Central Europe and an additional 30 teams in other areas.
Church Planting, Heritage, Renaissance, and Development
This triennium saw The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia celebrate 400 years (in 2011) since its establishment in the Russian Empire. New witness efforts led to the completion of 10 Lutheran church construction or renovation projects such as in Klaipeda, Lithuania; Minusinsk, Russia; and St. Michael Lutheran in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England celebrated a milestone in 2012 of 50 years of theological education through Westfield House in Cambridge. Expansion of outreach efforts led to the launch of Lutheran Radio UK (lutheranradio.co.uk) by Alliance Missionary Rev. Jaime Kriger of Brazil.
Church planting efforts in a number of locations were supported by a host of Lutherans working in various vocations. For example, the agriculture work of Dr. Mike Wade in Central Asia saw an improvement in production on 800 acres of wheat, barley, sunflower, corn, and finally soybean crops. Yields on soybeans hit 55 bushels per acre, and corn hit 115 bushels per acre. Through this community development partnership, seeds of the Gospel were sown among the agriculture administration. The work of Lutheran educators and a physical therapist with retired LCMS pastors led to a Divine Service establishing the International Lutheran Church of Ankara, Turkey. All nations outreach continues in church planting locations such as Brussels, Belgium; Prague, Czech Republic; Dublin, Ireland; and Leipzig, Germany. The first Mandarin Chinese-speaking alliance missionary is scheduled to be ordained and deployed into Europe in 2013.
Theological education trained an average of 250 students in collaboration with seven seminaries in the region: Westfield House in Cambridge, England; The Lutherische Theologische Hochschule in Frankfurt am Main/Oberusel, Germany; The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia Theological Institute near St. Petersburg, Russia; Concordia Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk, Russia; the Central Asia Lutheran Seminary in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and Almaty, Kazakhstan; and The Luther Academy in Riga, Latvia.
Three students from the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) in Germany started their vicarages in 2012.
LCMS continued to partner in a number of initiatives, such as with the Lutheran Church Concordia in Kyrgyzstan to operate a mobile medical van, which treated 36,000 women and children and distributed 7,500 eyeglasses in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministry. The programs of Hope Halfway House in Siberia and Hope Center in St. Petersburg expanded prison ministry and pro-life ministries, respectively.
Some of the partners in the region include the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Lutheran Hour Ministries, Lutheran Heritage Foundation, LCMS seminaries, Orphan Grain Train, Grace Place Retreats, Bethesda Lutheran Communities, members of the Concordia University System, as well as districts, congregations, and individuals. Eurasia has 11 partner Lutheran churches. Altar and pulpit fellowship was established with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, and new limited working agreements were signed with the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession and with the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Czech Republic.
Eurasia has plenty of Christian heritage. It is the place of the missionary journeys of Paul, has over 1,000 years of Orthodox Christianity, and is the birthplace of the Reformation. Yet, mission opportunities abound! Only in this triennium were the first translations of the Bible and of Luther’s Small Catechism in the Kazakh language completed. The Gospel needs to be proclaimed to this generation. It’s time to join the outreach to all nations in Eurasia.
2013 Convention Workbook (p 22f accessed May 16, 2013, http://www.lcms.org/convention/downloads )
Tags: convention report