This article is written by Rev. Daniel Johnson, Office of International Mission Catechist for Eurasia. Rev. Johnson shares with us about his journey through the midwest with the bishop of LCMS partner church body, The Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC). Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin joined Rev. Johnson in visiting several churches and presenting about the church in Siberia.
–By Rev. Daniel Johnson
On January 2, 2015 Amy and I awoke at 4:00 am to make the trip from Lutherische Theologische Hochschule to the Frankfurt airport. The Lutherische Theologische Hochschule is the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) seminary, located in Oberursel, Germany. The SELK is a partner church with the LCMS. (Learn more about the SELK). We had visited students at the seminary and stayed the night at the seminary guest house. Seminarian Isaac Johnson, an exchange student from Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN (CTSFW), delivered hot coffee to our room at 5:00 am and helped us load our luggage into our car for the 20 minute ride from the seminary to the airport. We were heading back to Iowa to begin a 5-week period of congregational visitations and meetings. These visitations, however, were to be different than previous visitations. This time, the bishop of The Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC), Vsevolod Lytkin, met me in Chicago and accompanied me on several of the visits.
The congregations we had scheduled to visit were very excited to meet the bishop and renew their support for the Lutheran church in Siberia. The crowds were large, and interest in Siberian Lutheranism was evident. I had scheduled a series of 12 visits throughout the Midwest states of Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and Illinois, including the Siberian Lutheran Mission Society (SLMS) board of directors meeting and symposium at CTSFW; an itinerary covering 9 days, while traveling just under 4,000 miles.
At each venue, Bishop Lytkin gave a PowerPoint presentation on the church life and culture of the Siberian people and drew many questions and great interest in the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church. Concluding his presentation, he showed a documentary video of the church’s work in various parts of Siberia.
On behalf of the bishop, I thank everyone who helped organize the receptions and provided publicity for the events and logistical planning for our meals and lodging. The bishop was impressed by the warm hospitality and generosity of the people he met. Bishop Lytkin was not hesitant to remind those present at his presentations that the SELC is indebted to the efforts of many within the LCMS and the financial support of the SLMS. Currently there is one LCMS Office of International Mission (LCMS OIM) missionary living in Russia. Reverend Alan Ludwig currently lives in Novosibirsk (Siberia) and teaches at Lutheran Theological Seminary – Novosibirsk. As the OIM Catechist to Eurasia, I currently live in Gelnhausen, Germany and frequently travel to Siberia to assist in catechetical education under the direction of Bishop Lytkin.
The SELC was welcomed into full altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCMS in 2010. Since 1997, many pastors and professors from the LCMS have traveled to Siberia to teach at Lutheran Theological Seminary and lecture at the seminary symposium or summer seminars.