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and rapport with pastors—something evidenced during 2010 when he served as provisional bishop. “I am a helper, not a ruler,” Brauer said. “Our orienta- tion is congregational; we are structured from the bot- tom up. We want mature and responsible members. The bishop is called to be a counselor and representative of the church.”

His age can benefit the church, he said, explaining: “As a younger person, I am flexible and mobile.” Brauer’s spouse, Tatyana Petrenko, is also a pastor, though not currently serving a call. From 2005 to 2010 she and Brauer served a co-pastorate (their only previous pastoral positions) in Gusev in the Kaliningrad enclave (formerly German East Prussia). The two are multilingual, speaking second languages of German and English—nec- essary for relations with other churches. Now, in large part due to the work of Brauer and church administration personnel, St. Peter and Paul has close ties with the largely expatriate Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy and its two lead pastors, Robert Bronkema and Matthew Laferty. More than 250 worshipers attended a joint Christ- mas Eve service in 2011.

For St. Peter and Paul, old relationships mix with new ones. Germany’s pietistic “Marburger Mission,” which has contributed funding and personnel to St. Peter and Paul for nearly 20 years, remains active in the cathedral’s ministry, as well as in the wider ELCER. And since 2001, a French-speaking congregation of African immigrants (Lutheran Protestant Church Franco- phone Section in Moscow) has been meeting in a side cha- pel on the cathedral’s grounds. Fara Rajarisoa, a female pastor from Madagascar, leads this congregation. For the ELCER, relationships are growing too. The Northwest Washington Synod and the ELCER continue

Lutherans in Russia T

their long companion synod partnership. Several Rus- sian Lutheran congregations have close partnerships with synod congregations, thanks to work of ELCA member Eva Mader and others.

The ELCER is also enjoying a strengthened relation- ship with the Lutheran World Federation and the Evan- gelical Church of Germany. Additionally, eight small Lutheran “house churches” in the neighboring country of Belarus have established friendly spiritual contacts with the ELCER. Until now, the church’s only Belarusian con- gregations were in Grodno and Vitebsk, Belarus. A new openness to women’s ordination exists in the

ELCER, which Brauer emphasizes is anchored in the church’s constitution. Presently 12 women serve as pas- tors under the auspices of the St. Petersburg-based Evan- gelical Lutheran Church in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakh- stan and Central Asia (ELCROS), an umbrella group. Although ELCROS Archbishop August Kruse has a stated opposition to a pastoral role for women, he sup- ported the election of Brauer, who is a proponent. Due to the westward exodus of at least 75 percent of

Russia’s Lutherans since the 1991 breakup of the former Soviet Union, ELCROS membership has dropped below 30,000. Yet Brauer said ELCER congregations have about 10,000 regular participants. Even as Russian (ethinic German) Lutherans have emigrated to Germany on the invitation of that country’s government, new immigrants to Russia are finding a welcoming home in Lutheran Christianity.

That is just as Brauer would have it. He sees all of the

country’s inhabitants as the church’s target audience. “We are determined to open the gates wide, for that is our only chance of survival,” he said. “We do not ask from where a person is; we want to be open to all nationalities.” 

he Evangelical Lutheran Church of European Russia (ELCER) holds worship services at 140 locations and has 54 pastors, 30 of whom serve full time. It is part of the St. Petersburg-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Central Asia (ELCROS). This umbrella group of Lutherans has seven member churches as well as regional congrega- tions in 10 independent states, including Azerbajian, Belarus, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Far East (the Urals and Siberia), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The ELCA supports ministry in Russia. For 2012, the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy and ELCROS will

receive $30,000 and $15,000, respectively, in funding support from the ELCA. And three ELCA synods have companion partnerships with Russian Lutherans:

• Northwest Washington Synod: ELCER. • Northeastern Minnesota Synod: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia, a 75-congregation, 15,000-member body, which also relates to the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. • Central States Synod: Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Urals, Siberia and the Far East.

May 2012 37

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