Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Help needed for Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk, Siberia
I have traveled twice to Siberia to work with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Theological Seminary there in Novosibirsk. The seminary is in dire need of assistance. Please read the letter below and help if you can. I can scarcely think of any other mission more deserving of support.
Information on Lutheran Theological Seminary, Novosbirsk, Russia
By Dr. Timothy Quill
Dean of International Studies, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN
In 1995 Concordia Theological Seminary began working extensively in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Under the oppressive Soviet government, Lutherans were persecuted, churches destroyed and most of the clergy killed, imprisoned or sent into exile. In 1997 CTS helped organize a new Lutheran Seminary in Novosibirsk, Siberia to train a new generation of Lutheran pastors. Following the dark era of communist oppression, the resurrection of a new, thriving Lutheran Church in the former Soviet Union is nothing short of miraculous. These new congregations and mission stations need pastors. Last year 25 students were enrolled in the LTS seminary and pre-seminary Bible School programs. The Seminary also holds regular seminars and conferences for pastors, church leaders and laity. In May of 2009 five seminarians graduated after completing a rigorous five years program of theological and practical preparation for the holy ministry. This was the third class to graduate.
Since its inception, the work of CTS in Russia has been financed entirely by the private charitable foundation whose founder had a great heart for the millions of Lutherans and other Christians who has suffered for so many years under atheistic communism. Due to recent economic problems in the United States, the foundation was forced to cut their support for Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk last year by 50%. This year they will cut it 50% to 70%. CTS is also under considerable financial pressure. President Wenthe is doing a tremendous job keeping the institution afloat and healthy, however, CTS is not in a position to subsidize the Novosibirsk Seminary. Without a secure home base, foreign mission work is a mute question.
In short, the Seminary in Russia will receive no funds from the foundation until March of 2010. Thus we need to raise $150,000 to keep the Seminary in Novosibirsk from closing. The next nine months are crucial. We can not simply close the Seminary for a year and then reopen it. The lives and wellbeing of faculty, staff, students and their families can not be put on hold for a year. Furthermore, after years of legal battles with the bureaucracy in Moscow the Seminary recently received is registration as an official educational institution. To close the Seminary now will jeopardize registration and cause legal problems and suspicion with the authorities.
Rector Alexei Streltsov and I have prepared a drastically reduced budget which will not only enable the Seminary to survive the current crisis, but to keep its doors open, classes running, and send a positive message to those who desire to matriculate with the next new class in September of 2010.
Donations should be made out to Concordia Theological Seminary accompanied with a note that the gift is designated for the support of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk, Russia.