Rev. Daniel Johnson is The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) Office of International Mission (OIM) Catechist to Siberia and the Baltics. Rev. Johnson has been serving in this role since 2012, when he was called by the Board for International Mission. In this role, Rev. Johnson travels to places such as Siberia, Lithuania and Latvia in order to support the work of partner churches. Rev. Johnson assists in further theological education for pastors, deacons and laity of these church bodies, helping to encourage those who serve, often in remote places.
Though Rev. Johnson has been serving in this particular role just since 2012, he has actually been working to help the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) since the year 2000. Along with other pastors and lay people, Rev. Johnson assisted in the creation of a mission society to help the Lutheran churches and people in Siberia, who face many hardships. He has traveled often to Siberia over the last 14 years while he was still serving a parish in Iowa. Rev. Johnson, then, has had a long-standing relationship with many of the pastors, the bishop and the people of the SELC.
During the month of August, Rev. Johnson traveled to Siberia again to assist with the 18th Summer Seminars across that vast landscape. He traveled with SELC pastor, Rev. Alexey Streltsov. They visited many different congregations and pastors. Rev. Alexey Streltsov described the seminars in this way:
Novokuznetsk-Tomsk-Novosibirsk-Tuim-Chita-Yedineniye-Yasnaya-Beloretsk-Chelyabinsk-Ekaterinburg-Reftinsky – 18th summer seminars are over. 8 regions, 4 time zones, thousands of miles. Teaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified aka confessional Lutheran doctrine has been proclaimed once again. Thanks be to God!
During these travels, Rev. Johnson was presented with a special honor, a silver pectoral cross, the Silver Cross of the SELC. The tradition of the pectoral cross goes back many years in Russia, to the time of Tsar Nicholas II. The Tsar awarded this cross to every priest of the Russian Empire at that time. The tradition continues today. In the churches now, it is awarded to pastors at their ordination by the bishop of their respective church body. This is because in churches such as those in Russia and Latvia, pastors and deacons wear the same cassocks and collars. The distinguishing mark of the ordained pastor is the silver pectoral cross he wears (you can liken this to the LCMS when the pastor at his ordination is given his stole and chasuble). The Silver Cross shows that the pastor has all the privileges and authority given a pastor by the bishop of that church body. The cross is also often awarded to pastors from outside of the Russian Empire in recognition of faithful service.
On August 3, 2014, SELC Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin awarded the Silver Cross of the SELC to Rev. Johnson during a service at The Church of St. Andrew in Novosibirsk, Russia. Bishop Lytkin said that Rev. Johnson has been a “faithful servant of the Gospel and the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church” as a liaison of the LCMS.
We give thanks to God for the faithful service of Rev. Johnson and all the pastors, deacons and the bishop of the SELC. We give thanks, also, for our partnership in the Gospel whereby the Good News of Christ crucified and risen for YOU is proclaimed to all people. Truly, this is Life Together across cultures, languages and miles. Despite all these things, we are one in Christ. Thanks be to God who does all things well.