Missionary Rev. Daniel S. Johnson Reports on the “Reformation Heritage” Conference in Novosibirsk, Russia
This post is shared by the Rev. Daniel S. Johnson, serving the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). Rev. Johnson is based out of Frankfurt, Germany, but travels to Russia as a pastoral care specialist and instructor. He works closely with one of the LCMS’s newest church partners, the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC). Rev. Johnson, at the request of partner churches, offers catechetical instruction to pastors in order to strengthen them and offer them continuing educational opportunities.
The Theological Seminary of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) conducted a “Reformation Heritage” Conference on November 1–3 in Novosibirsk, Russia.
There were 45 participants at the Conference including clergy and laity from Siberia, Ural region, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, among them the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Khazakhstan, Yury Novgorodov, who shared with those present about the situation with the Lutheran Church in Kazakhstan.
The following reports were delivered at the conference: Rev. Daniel S. Johnson “Christology in the First Table of Luther’s Small Catechism – a pastor’s perspective”; Rev. Andrey Lipnitsky “Luther’s Theological Testament”; Rev. Pavel Khramov “Real Presence of Body and Blood of Christ: Theological and Political Issue of Reformation”; Rev. Alexey Streltsov “Repentance as Christian Life in Lutheran Theology”; Mr. Pavel Butakov “Soteriological Principle in Christian Philosophy”; Rev. Alan Ludwig “Luther, Melanchton, Brenz, Chemnitz, and FC VII-VIII.”
The conference was a great blessing for our Church in Siberia. One of the participants coming from Beloretsk (Bashkortostan Republic) said the following: “The Conference, which was held in Novosibirsk on November 1–3, which I was able to attend, left the best impressions and unforgettable delight in my soul. Interesting topics dedicated to the Reformation Day and covered from different angles by the presenters, moved me to return once again to the study of the Lutheran Confessions. Friendly, brotherly atmosphere of good will and concord among gathered people was likewise pleasant.”
Professor Alan Ludwig writes the following observation in his November newsletter: “To my mind, the highlight of the conference—other than the divine service—was the final event on Sunday. Rector Streltsov had assigned one hour for questions and answers. This year he did something different: instead of starting with questions from the floor, he had the presenters themselves ask one another about points made in their papers. This led to some fascinating discussion. The atmosphere was charged. People were on the edge of their seats as they heard the dialogue among the theologians and pastors, and then chimed in with questions and discussion of their own. This session lasted for more than two hours, and it seemed that even then people were reluctant to leave. One woman from Chelyabinsk asked, ‘Why can’t we have topics like this in our church every Sunday?’ Yes, in a religious culture that is predominantly Russian Orthodox but increasingly Islamic, where nature-worship, magic, witchcraft, and other pagan practices abound, and where the majority are still unchurched, the Reformation lives. This is because it is not a concept or a theory. Nor is it a set of rules or principles to live by. The message of the Reformation is the living and active Word of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, the Lamb of God, who was ‘put to death for our trespasses and raised again for our justification’ (Romans 4:25).”