From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCROS Synod: Is Lutheranism German by nature?

Date 22 Oct 1998 06:54:04

Lutheranism and German tradition in Russia

ST PETERSBURG, Russia/GENEVA, 19 October 1998 (lwi) - For the first time,
the synod of the eparchy "European Russia", of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Russia and other States (ELCROS) met in the recently consecrated
Church of Peter and Paul in Moscow. The 84 synod members met from October 7
to 9. Along with complaints concerning lack of staff and financial
resources, one main discussion topic was the implanting of Lutheranism in
specifically Russian circumstances. The main question is to what extent
Lutheranism in Russia is tied to the German language and to the culture of
Russians of German descent. For the elder generation, the German language,
Luther's language, seems to be indissociable from all acts of the church.
The dwindling Brethren congregations keep to it. Most of the congregations
that in recent years have emerged in the cities, however, are bilingual,
occasionally Russian monolingual. This trend will most likely continue.

Another central question of the synod was the specificity of Lutheran life.
Between revivalist sermons on the one hand and formal ritualism on the
other, the proclamation of God's free grace in Christ for all people must
have a permanent place. If the Lutheran church is also in the future to
keep its profile within the confessional pluralism of the country, it has
to increasingly concentrate on its task of proclaiming the gospel in the
way the Reformation understood it and passed it on.

The synod also dealt with administrative issues. Considering that several
ELCROS eparchies have become autonomous churches, and in view of the
proclamation of the new religious law on October 1,1997 requiring the
re-registration of all forms of the church organization, it would again
seem necessary to consider a merger of the two Russian eparchies into one
church. This would entail a process extending over several years.

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