Siberian Lutheran Mission Society

Greetings dear friend of the SLMS!

“Around the world in 42 Days.” This is the title of a story suggested to me from a donor.  While relating my recent travels to this particular gentleman, he asked if I had considered writing about my experiences in Siberia. (My travels may seem interesting to some — perhaps, this man and others — and I greatly appreciate their interest in my travels — but there are many others who can tell more interesting and compelling stories of life in Siberian Russia, than this single traveler). However, this most recent journey began when I left Marshalltown, Iowa on June 28th for a 42-day trip, which included a three-week journey through Siberia.

On July 4, I met Dr. Timothy Quill and Pastor Jeremy Mills in Amsterdam — who had flown from Indiana. After a short layover, together, we flew to St. Petersburg, Russia.  Two days later, we were on a “red-eye” to Novosibirsk.

Sunday, July 8, which marked the 28th anniversary of my ordination, involved the ordination of two recent graduates from the seminary in Novosibirsk.  Dr. Quill and I participated in the ordination of these two deacons who will serve SELC congregations. (In the SELC a deacon is the first level of the priesthood or pastoral ministry.  After several years the bishop and consistory may elect to consecrate the deacon as a pastor, with all the duties and responsibilities of a parish priest.) The Novosibirsk seminary continues to produce highly qualified candidates to serve the church in Siberia and beyond.

Two days of seminars were held in Novosibirsk before departing by a car on a 7-day, 1200 mile journey on Siberian roads, to visit congregations in the cities of Yurga, Tomsk, Tuim, and Novokuznetsk. Dr. Quill lectured on: “The Lord’s Prayer in the life of the church.” Pastor Mills lectured on: “The Lord’s Supper as the church’s confession.” I lectured on “Psalm 23 as a model for pastoral care.”

Following the lectures in Novokuznetsk, we had been traveling for 2 weeks in Siberia and were in need of rest.  After the 300-mile journey back to Novosibirsk, we enjoyed a day of relaxation. Dr. Quill and I spent the day reconnecting with old friends and Pr. Mills toured the city and made new acquaintances among our Siberian hosts.  The next day Dr. Quill and Pr. Mills left Siberia to return to Indiana, with an overnight in Moscow. I traveled with Rev. Alexey Streltsov (Rector of the SELC seminary in Novosibirsk) to Ekaterinburg by airplane, for an additional week of seminars.  Pastor Sergey Glushkov joined us in Ekaterinburg, as we traveled over the Ural Mountains by car, to spend 3 days in the European Russian city of Beloretsk.

I have traveled through the Ural Mountains many times and have always been underwhelmed.  The Rockies, Alps, Appalachians, Altai Mountains (in south-central Siberia), and even Ozark Mountains (really the Ozark Plateau) have much more to impress the traveler than the Urals.  Perhaps I would find these ancient mountains much more interesting if I simply regarded them as geographic markers, separating Asia from Europe; often traveled by ancient explorers and conquering armies, throughout the centuries.

In Beloretsk, I continued my lectures on Psalm 23 and visited parishioners, before returning to Ekaterinburg by way of the 6-hour car ride across the Urals.  The same lectures were given to a very enthusiastic crowd at the congregation of St. Peter and St. Paul in Ekaterinburg, before Rector Streltsov returned to Novosibirsk and I flew on to Germany and other locations.  After 42 days of living out of a suitcase, including a trip halfway around the world and back, I have finally returned home!

I thank supporters of the SLMS who have designated their donations to be used for the purpose of theological education in Siberia.  Without such donations, it would not be possible for the SLMS to send pastors and professors to Siberia to conduct the summer seminars, provide necessary theological education and visit the SELC congregations.  Remember, 100% of your undesignated donations to the SLMS go directly to SELC congregations to support pastoral care and planting new missions.

A letter from Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin was recently received by the SLMS treasurer, Mr. Robert Kiefer. In this email, the bishop is responding to a recent dispersion of funds from SLMS donors to the SELC.  He writes:

Dear Robert,
Thank you very much! 
And greetings from Novokuznetsk.  I should visit this parish about three times per month because there is no resident priest right now. You know that pastor Pavel Zayakin is moving from Abakan to serve in Dnipro in Ukraine, according to the agreement with our sister-Church in Ukraine.  So Pastor Dmitri Dotsenko (who served in Novokuznetsk during last 10 years) now serves in Abakan, Sayanogorsk, and Taskino and once per week he also visits Tuim. And so, I (or another priest) am traveling to Novokuznetsk to serve Sunday liturgies there.  It is not far: about 300 miles. I just arrived here.  Tomorrow I will serve the liturgy, then I will speak with the parishioners, and then I will go to Prokopievsk (a town about 30 miles from here) to conduct burial service of an old Volga German lady who died two days ago. The support we obtain from you makes our travels and life possible here in Siberia.  We appreciate it very much.
In Christ,

Donations to the SLMS may be sent to:

Siberian Lutheran Mission Society
c/o Ascension Lutheran Church
8811 St. Joe Rd.
Fort Wayne, IN 46835

Your prayers and financial gifts are appreciated!


Rev. Daniel S. Johnson
Chairman, Siberian Lutheran Mission Society (SLMS)

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