This update on Rev. Yaroslav Boychenko’s work in Nizhny Novgorod is taken from his report, as translated by Aleksei Zubtsov. The congregation in Nizhny Novgorod is a part of The Lutheran Church Missiouri Synod’s sister church, The Evangelical Lutheran Church if Ingria in Russia (ELCIR). The work done by Rev. Boychenko and others is supported in part by the LCMS through the Ingria Outreach and Church Support Fund.
–Translated by Aleksei Zubtsov; Edited by Elizabeth Ahlman
The pastor of the ELCIR Lutheran congregation in Nizhny Novgorod, Rev. Yaroslav Boychenko, continues to reach out with the message of God’s grace in Jesus through public lectures and meetings on different topics on the church’s premises or elsewhere as a guest lecturer.
During the fall and winter of 2016, Rev. Boychenko conducted a series of meetings and lectures on music in the context of Christian spirituality. Those included two evening meetings devoted to the oeuvre of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) discussing possible connections between Stravinsky’s music for The Rite of Spring ballet and his sacred music and the inspiration behind Stravinsky’s sacred music. During Yaroslav’s presentation, the audience had a chance to listen to excerpts from The Symphony of the Psalms and other music.
The series continued with a meeting on Christian Music and Jazz. Listening to Modern Jazz Pieces and Discussing their Features, and with two meetings on music of Dmitry Shostakovich (1906-1975). In connection with the composer’s 110th anniversary in 2016, the pastor and his audience reflected on such topics as “An artist and a citizen,” “The person and the system,” “The eternal Promethean spirit,” “Resistance: the fight against evil and violence,” “The reality of evil and the dance of death. Painful questions and reflections that become a prayer!” The group listened to and discussed parts of the composer’s 5th, 7th, 8th, and 10th symphonies.
As a guest lecturer, by invitation of a public cultural center in town, Rev. Boychenko presented a lecture about the spiritual content of music. And, by invitation of the history of religion faculty at Lobachevsky University in Nizhny, Rev. Boychenko presented a lecture for post-graduates from the international relations department. He told the students about the evangelical faith and the main ideas of the Reformation.
Pastor Yaroslav continues inviting any interested public to the congregation’s library to view and discuss feature films from the perspective of spiritual themes reflected in them. The productions he and his audience have seen and discussed lately are The Monk and the Demon, a 2016 film written by Yuri Arabov and directed by Nikolai Dostal, and Solaris, a 1972 film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky based on a novel by the Polish science fiction writer Stanisław Lem.
His other outreach activities included a meeting with members of the Nizhny Novgorod Disabled Society. As they visited the congregation, Yaroslav told the guests about the Gospel and the history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and in Nizhny Novgorod in particular.
The congregation’s worship room hosted a recital of sacred organ music. The organist Olga Shumitskaya performed pieces by J. S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, and Camille Saint-Saëns, as well as Lutheran chorale treatments by Paul Otto Manz (1919-2009), an American composer for choir and organ.
Through sacred music, lectures, and mercy, Rev. Boychenko and his congregation continue to make known the love of Christ for all mankind to the community that surrounds them.