This story was shared with us by Rev. Alexander Furs and Alexey Zubtsov from our partner church body, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (ELCIR). The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod supports mission work with the ELCIR through resources and staff.
During the first quarter of 2014, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Saratov hosted an organ recital. The organ pieces were performed by two female students from the Sobinov State Conservatory (see photo) that St. John’s Church partners with in its outreach activities. The recital was attended by around 30 people.
The attendance of Sunday worship services at St. John’s Lutheran usually includes 15-20 non-Lutheran guests. Rev. Furs continues welcoming them during informal fellowship after church. If requested, he takes them on a short tour of the congregation’s premises. He shares with them about the teachings and history of the Lutheran church in the Saratov region which had a considerable population of Russian Germans (mostly Lutheran) in the past. For further reading about the Lutheran faith, Rev. Furs gives his new contacts books published by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation. An extra opportunity for guests to hear how Lutherans lift up their prayers to God is litanies that St. John’s clergy have been reading on weekdays in this Lenten season. New people stop by as St. John’s congregation is located in the city’s main pedestrian street.
Rev. Furs has also continued to lead the meetings of St. John’s youth club where young church members and any other interested young people can come. Seven new young men attended the two meetings he led in the first year-quarter. Some of them are students from the Saratov State University and the others were invited by their church member friends.
A short time ago, Pastor Furs participated in a scholars’ conference on history and culturology. He shared with an audience of 40-45 people a presentation about the contribution of noted Russian Lutherans to the history and culture of Russia in the 17th – 19th centuries. Also, he taught a lesson on Protestantism at a secondary school. His lesson was attended by 37 students from two 11th grade classes. After the lesson, he answered the questions asked by the students and their teachers and shared about the work of his congregation and where it is located. He spoke about the cultural and socially oriented projects that St. John’s laypeople and clergymen are involved in and invited the school students to join them.
As part of his ongoing outreach in the press, Rev. Furs provided information about his church’s activities during Lent for the newsletter of non-governmental organizations in the Saratov region. His regular updates include a timetable of worship services and an invitation for everybody to come. Pastor Furs continues to meet with his church’s existing partners and new contacts in Saratov, especially in the city’s educational community, discussing various opportunities to work together.
- Pray for Rev. Alexander Furs, Rev. Olav Panchu and the congregation of St. John’s, Saratov.
- Pray that further contacts within the educational community wold lead to more opportunities to proclaim the Gospel.
- Learn more about St. John’s Saratov.