Note: The LCMS supports Rev. Alexander Furs’ work through projects in collaboration with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (ELCIR). This post was shared by the ELCIR.
In late November 2011 Rev. Alexander Furs, pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Saratov, Russia, was invited to conduct a series of lessons on the history of religions at a local high school. He was invited by a church member who is the school’s assistant principal.
“This time my audience were 9th- and 10th-grade classes, including students whom I had not met before and some of the teachers, 142 people in all. My lessons were about the story of our Savior’s birth and the history of Christmas as a church holiday. As I was speaking about the place of the holiday in the life of the church and in the Lutheran liturgical calendar, I shared with the students about the meaning of the Incarnation of God in Jesus. After each lesson, I answered questions from the students and invited all to come to our Christmas worship service on December 25.”
Also in late November and in early December, Rev. Furs reached out with a pastoral word to Volga Germans during meetings organized by the Volga German cultural society in two towns in the Saratov region. Rev. Furs shared about meaning of Jesus’ coming into this world as he explained the meaning of Advent in the Lutheran Church.
As pictured above, Rev. Furs participated in the Divine Liturgy on Christmas Day which was presided over by the bishop of the ELCIR, Vicar Rev. Olav Panchu. Rev. Panchu is also the Probst, or president, of the Volga District of the ELCIR and head pastor of St. John’s Church. More than 25 non-Lutherans attended worship at St. John’s for the first time on that day, most at the invitation of Rev. Furs. During an informal fellowship after church, he gave the guests copies of the Russian translation of The Christian Faith, a book by Dr. Robert Kolb, professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.
On December 26, Rev. Furs led a prayer service which was also attended by 11 students from a classical higher education institution in town. They had learned about the Lutheran congregation from Rev. Furs and came to extend greetings and to be introduced to the Western Christian tradition. After the prayer service, Pastor Furs led a meeting where he spoke about Jesus’ birth and its meaning. Rev. Furs praised God that the guests as well as church youth offered so many questions and showed such great interest in the traditions and teachings of Lutheranism. The meeting, initially planned to be short, continued for 3 hours!