PLI Retreat for the Siberian District of The Church of Ingria. Lake Baikal, Russia, July 20-25, 2011
By Rev. Scott Holder, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Logan, Utah.
“During July, a group of pastors and wives from the United States visited Russia and the Lutheran Church of Ingria for a mission trip. The mission trip is a part of the Pastoral Leadership Institute (PLI) program, designed to help pastors develop leadership skills as they lead God’s people. The participants involved included four pastors and three wives (Rev. Jon and Mary Haakana, Rev. Randall Haedge, Rev. Scott and Carrie Holder, Rev. James and Cynthia Nash).
“The PLI group arrived in Moscow on July 12, and spent a couple of days touring the city, learning of the history of Russia and of the Lutheran Church in Russia. They had the opportunity to visit such places as the Kremlin, Red Square, and Our Savior’s Cathedral.
“The group then travelled to St. Petersburg, where they met with Bishop Ari Kuggapi, and where the four pastors had the opportunity to preach in Lutheran churches in the St. Petersburg area. They also took part in a tour of the seminary and several local Lutheran churches, as well as visiting several historic sites, such as the Hermitage and the Peterhof.
“From St. Petersburg, the group then traveled to Ulan-Ude to take part in a retreat for the Siberian district pastors and wives at a resort on the shore of Lake Baikal. The retreat focused on the Bible book of Ephesians, and involved such topics as prayer, identity in Christ Jesus, marriage, and family. Sessions were also held for the wives who attended. The retreat lasted for five days, and all who took part were strengthened in faith and in God’s Word. The highlight of the retreat followed the Sunday time of worship when all the Russian pastors in attendance were given cowboy hats from Texas, which were enjoyed by all!
“Missionary Rev. Jon Muhly served as the guide for the PLI group throughout their time in Russia. The group wishes to express their thanks to him for his commitment to them and for his guidance throughout. They also extend their thanks to Bishop Kuggapi, and pray for his leadership and guidance. In addition, thanks go out to Siberian District President Juha Saari and his wife, Anu, as they took part in the retreat at Lake Baikal.
“Overall, this group enjoyed their time learning about the history and culture of Russia. But above all, they give thanks to God for the opportunity to learn from their brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus throughout Russia, and are very thankful for the work that God has given to those who serve Him with the message of forgiveness through Jesus and the cross.”
Editor’s note: Locations from which the 31 Russian pastors and their wives gathered for the retreat included Ulan-Ude, Petropavlovka and Arshan in Buryatia; Irkutsk; Chita;Kr