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Lutheran Theological Seminary Conducts Conference on the Holy Ministry

The 3rd International Theological Conference was held in the Lutheran Center of Novosibirsk on February 2223. The total number of participants exceeded 70 people. A number of local parishioners came additionally on the second day of the conference, which was a state holiday.

Among the special guests at the conference were Waldemar Esse (Ekaterinburg) and Evgeny Lukinov (Omsk), pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East (ELC USFE; ELKRAS); Alexander Lopachenko, ELKRAS preacher from Arseniev (Primorsky Krai) Yuha Saare (Omsk), pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria; Gennady Moskalyov, Deacon of the Novosibirsk parish of ELCIR; Alexander Cherepanov, head of the Evangelical Lutheran congregation of the Verkh-Isetsky District of the City of Ekaterinburg; Yakov Mamedov, minister of the LCMS Mission in Kyrghysia (Bishkek), and many others. Practically all pastors and deacons of SELC were represented, as well as the students, vicars, and graduates of Lutheran Theological Seminary. Although the primary target of the conference was the clergy of the Lutheran Church, a number of laypeople from SELC parishes were able to attend as well. Some of them intend to enter the seminary in the future.

The following lectures were delivered at the Conference:

  • Rev. Prof. Alan Ludwig (Lutheran Theological Seminary, Novosibirsk; LCMS): 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 3 as Keys to the Biblical Teaching about Women's Ordination.
  • Rev. Alexei Streltsov (Lutheran Theological Seminary, Novosibirsk; SELC): Women's Ministry in the Early Church: da Vinci Code or Apostolic Tradition?
  • Rev. Fredrik Sidenvall (Frillesas, Church of Sweden): How to Bake the Same Cake with Different Recipes, and How It Tastes: Presuppositions for and Experiences of the Ordination of Women.
  • Rev. Prof. Alan Ludwig (Lutheran Theological Seminary, Novosibirsk; LCMS): The NT and Congregationalism.
  • Rev. Vladislav Ivanov (Chelyabinsk, SELC): Bishop, Presbyter, Deacon in Light of the NT Teaching.
  • Rev. Dr. Thomas Winger (Westfield House, Cambridge; ELCE): The Priesthood of the Baptised: the Testimony of Luther, Peter, Humpty Dumpty, and a Goat.
  • Bishop em. Dr. Jobst Schone (Berlin, Germany; SELK): Call and Ordination to the Pastoral Office in the Lutheran Reformation.
  • Rev. Alexei Streltsov (Lutheran Theological Seminary, Novosibirsk; SELC): Luther on Episcopacy.
  • The Rev. Dr. Armin Wentz (Oberursel, Germany; SELK): The Doctrine of the Holy Ministry in 19th-Century German Lutheran Pastoral Theology (Harms, Lohe, Vilmar).

Participants and guests of the conference pointed to the high level of the conference organization, as well as to the pertinence of the given lectures. Some expressed regret that not enough time was allowed for questions. The conference, however, is not the same as seminars for the laity. So the next time a greater part of the seminar will be dedicated to moderated discussion by the presenters, which was somewhat lacking this time.

Presenters of the conference also spoke highly of it.

Dr. Thomas Winger: The Conference was a remarkable chance to talk real theology with a lot of good questions and a lot of good presentations, and I think people were challenged and they thought about what they believed and it will be very positive for the church.

Dr. Armin Wentz: I very much appreciated being a partaker and a presenter at this conference, and it is a very nice example of Lutheranism and how the Lutheran Church is alive in Siberia, and that you are on a good way with our Lord Jesus Christ. And it is important and good to discuss the topic of the ministry, and also of episcopal ministry. Maybe someday your church can make a fine contribution to Lutheranism in the world, and tell other people what Lutheranism is all about. I wish you the best for your way in the future. Gods blessings for your church.

The first three Conference papers concerned the problem of womens ordination in liberal Lutheranism. Rev. Alan Ludwig demonstrated that the biblical prohibitions in 1 Cor. 14 and 1 Tim. 2 are not just two pillars, by attacking which one may easily destroy the whole building of the traditional view on the Holy Ministry. Rather, they are two streams flowing from the river of the divine revelation and the biblical worldview at which they point. Rev. Alexei Streltsov brought evidences from the early church about the female priesthood in the heretical movements and confronted the now fashionable theory of this priesthoods belonging to the history of the Church Catholic. Rev. Fredrik Sidenvall shared the sad state of the womens ordination in the Church of Denmark and the Church of Sweden and described the reasons behind these developments.

Then the Conference guests were able to hear lectures on the topic of the church structure, including discussion of such relevant issues as congregationalism and the so-called priesthood of all believers. It was naturally impossible to discuss all implications of these broad themes in the short time of the conference. Rev. Alan Ludwig demonstrated that the voters assemblies, which have become the cornerstone of the congregationalist system, are not grounded in the New Testament. He encouraged Russian Lutherans to consider whether they need to accept foreign influences not characteristic of the local traditions if they are not based on Scripture. Rev. Vladislav Ivanov examined the New Testament evidence for the ministry of the bishop, presbyter, and deacon.

Dr. Thomas Winger demonstrated that while the phrase priesthood of all believers is not to be found in this form in any of Luthers writings, Luthers intent was to show the sacrificial character of priesthood that is, Christian vocation. Speaking of Christians as priests, Luther in no way implied that all Christians were ministers. This also corresponds, Rev. Winger said, to the original meaning of the phrase in 1 Peter 2:9. The paper of the former SELK Bishop Jobst Schone, which was delivered by his request by SELK Pastor Dr. Armin Wentz, represented a nice historical survey of the attitude of the 16th-Century Lutherans to the practical issues of the holy ministry in the church. Rev. Alexei Streltsov showed in his report on Luther that Luther cannot be named a proponent of the congregationalist system in its present form: his critique of the episcopacy is geared primarily against the contemporary corrupt Roman system, while Luther himself was not opposed to the concept of supracongregational Episcopal oversight. Finally, Dr. Armin Wentz described the views on the holy ministry of such German 19th-Century theologians as Harms, Lohe, and Vilmar. He called on the audience to pay more serious attention to the heritage of these theologians in view of the current problems of the understanding of the holy ministry in Lutheran circles.

At the Conference itself rough drafts of many papers were distributed among the participants. LTS plans to publish the Conference materials in a matter of months (an English language edition is also envisioned). Also, these presentations may be found in the future at www.lts.ru for reading or download.


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