Archive for August 2013

Camp Between the Rivers

From August 20 to 23, we stayed at the “Camp between the rivers,” a camp of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church. The camp is located between the White Ius and Black Ius Rivers.

The Ius River is beautiful and considered to have pure water. It served as a good location for the camp near the village of Efremkino (Ефремкино) in Khakassia, Siberia, Russia.

A map of the area. The town of Efremkino (Ефремкино) is pictured in the lower left corner of the map. Near the camp is the “Path of the Ancestors,” which is a place where a Paleolithic culture lived.

Inside one of the caves, were cave paintings nearly 4,000 years old. The paintings on the wall represented human beings and a god with four eyes. The caves were discovered by Pyotr Proskuryakov in 1883. Animal bones were found inside the cave indicating that sacrifices had been made to the god in the past.

Further along the trail, a Shaman’s tree had ribbons on it indicating petitions to the spirits. This is similar to the other places in Siberia where sacrifices were made to the spirits.

The trail itself was rugged at times. However the view was worth the effort.

At another portion of the trail, we came upon an unusual artifact.

Nearby a cave that we came out of was some runic writing on the rock face. It was discovered in 1883 by Pyotr Proskuryakov’s expedition, but the runic script was not deciphered until the early 20th century. The runic script encoder a Turkish based language. The inscription reads: “I greet you Altu Shan, my state and my Han (prince). I am Agdam Enal. My people are Tersye. I have come down from the mountains and have found out .” A debate ensued among scholars regarding the name of Tersye. This is a Khakassia word of Turkish origin. This is from a Syriac word used to designate a Christian. Other Syriac words such as Mar for teacher appear in other texts. Kyrgyz people were Christian around the 7 – 10th centuries. Additional evidence for Christian roots can be found in Khakassia language, for instance the Tarcha River, literally means “the Christian River.” The name of this river comes from Tarcha Khyz. Khyz means young lady. According to Khakassian tales, Tarcha Khyz was the young woman who lead the Kyrgyz people in battle against the Mongolians. She was shot by an arrow and killed on the banks of the Tarcha River, hence it’s name. This legend goes back to the 10th century. The history of Christians in Khakassia ends with the Mongolian invasion. This invasion drove the people of Kyrgyz Kaganate (predecessors of Khakasian people) into Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. How did these people become Christian? Most likely by the Nestorians who were forced out of the Persian Empire onto the Great Step. They came to Khakassia as missionaries.

Pastor Pavel Zayakin explained the history of the “Path of the Ancestors” to us as we hiked along the path. It was very fascinating hearing the story of early Christianity in the 7 – 10th centuries.

Back at the “Camp between two rivers” each day was book ended by morning and evening worship. Lectures were held during the day.

The Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church’s “Camp Between the Rivers” is structured after a Poligon, literally in English, a polygon. It has the practical sense of a training field or proving ground for soldiers or athletes. The camp is set up to train the hearts, minds, and bodies of young people to be Christians in this world, hence hiking, works of service, worship, study and camping.

The camp is rustic, but a wonderful opportunity to study, meditate, and enjoy the Lord’s creation.

Pastors Pavel Zayakin and Alexey Streltsov of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) hosted and accompanied (listed alphabetically) Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations; Rev. Randy Golter, Executive Director of the Office of International Mission; Rev. Daniel Johnson, Catechist to Siberia and Baltic churches; Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, LCMS Director of Theological Education and Professor at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne.

– Posted by Dr Albert Collver in Tuim, Russia using BlogPress from my iPhone


Organ Hall former Roman Catholic Church

The Organ Hall in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia, is a former Roman Catholic Church. The communist took over the church and turned it into an organ concert hall.

The sign reads: “The Russian Federation Monument of Architecture, Roman Catholic Church, Architect V.A. Sokolovski, under the protection of the State.”

Inside the Organ Hall, there is a crucifix. Although the Organ Hall is owned by the State, today the local Roman Catholic Church is allowed to worship here.

The churchy stained glass windows were replaced with Soviet style images extolling music.

Next to the Organ Hall / Roman Catholic Church is the former rectory. Today it is “Music School No. 5” located on Decemberists Street, named after the revolutionaries in the 19th century who attempted to overthrow the Czar.

A floor garden sits in front of the former church and former rectory. The church is built on the Rock of Christ, even when steeples are falling.

The city Krasnoyarsk is East of Tomsk and North East of Novosibirsk.

– Posted by Dr Albert Collver on 19 August 2013 using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:улица Дубровинского,Krasnoyarsk,Russia

Sunday with Angarsk and Chita Congregations

Today, the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) congregations in Angarsk and Chita worshiped together. these congregations are 700 miles apart (talk about circuit riding!). Siberia is a vast territory that makes it challenging for both pastor and congregation. This is the first time LCMS people have had the opportunity in a SELC congregation since the Missouri Synod ratified fellowship with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) with Resolution 4-02, “To Endorse Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church” at the 65th regular convention held in 20-25 July 2013.

Some of the people from the Chita congregation posing with us in the Siberian forest. The congregation from Chita is predominantly deaf.

Pastor Andry conducted service on Sunday morning. He preached on Mark 7:32-37.

Jesus healed the man who was deaf.

The SELC is a liturgical church whose liturgy is similar to that of the Missouri Synod. For instance after the Words of Institution are spoken the congregation sings Agnets Bozhy, “Lamb of God.”

Also similar to the Missouri Synod is the Communion Statement which teaches “close(d) communion.”

When the Missouri Synod engages a church body in fellowship discussions both doctrine and practice are discussed. Worship is attended. How a church worships reflects what it believes. In other words, you cannot really know a church unless you see how they worship because that is where doctrine is implemented or put into practice.

When fellowship talks happen between the Missouri Synod and another church body doctrine is examined to see if there is agreement, practice is studied, church constitutions are looked at, and worship is attended. This is all part of the process for church fellowship.

Before the service, there was a lesson from the Small Catechism.

After the service we had a group photo with people from Angarsk and Chita.

Nearby, the Russian Orthodox have an impressive structure called the Angarsk Church.

It was wonderful to have the opportunity to visit the Angarsk and Chita congregations so soon after the Missouri Synod ratified fellowship with the SELC in the July 2013 convention.

We said our good byes, exchanged gifts and spoke of the day when we could all gather in Chita. Off to the train station for the next city.

– Posted on 18 August 2013 by Dr Albert Collver using BlogPress from my iPhone