Salem Lutheran Church (418 4th Street, Gretna, LA 70053) is welcoming some special guests on the weekend of January 28 and 29, 2017.
Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin and his wife Daria will be visiting from Novosibirsk, Siberia - where Bishop Lytkin serves as the bishop of our partner church body, the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC), established after the fall of Communism as a missionary outreach of the Estonian Lutheran Church. The Bishop will give a presentation at Salem's Schmid Hall on Saturday, January 28 at 6:00 pm.
Before Communism, 10% of the population of the Russian Empire was Lutheran. The first Lutheran congregation in Russia was founded in Moscow in 1576. Lutheranism enjoyed a respected status in Russia along with the Russian Orthodox Church. However, as result of Communism (especially during Stalin's purges in the 1930s), Lutherans were persecuted and scattered, their pastors executed and churches bulldozed. Many faithful people were sent to Siberia - some into internal exile, and others into Gulag camps. Some managed to practice their faith secretly for decades, only being able to worship openly with the establishment of the SELC, the re-establishment of destroyed parishes, and the establishment of new ones.
The Lytkins are a delightful couple with a warm sense of humor who grew up in the USSR and converted to Christianity. Their stories, and those of their fellow Lutherans in Russia, are compelling and inspiring.
They will be accompanied by the Rev. Daniel Johnson and his wife Amy, who live in Iowa. Pastor Johnson serves the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod as a missionary liaison to Eurasia. Bishop Lytkin will also preach at Salem's Sunday (Jan 29) Divine Service at 10:00.
If you want more information about the SELC and its work, the Siberian Lutheran Mission Society is a great resource - especially their newsletter archive dating back to 2003 - fascinating reading! There is a 22-minute YouTube documentary about the SELC that includes the bishop and features the work of several of the Siberian clergy and their challenges of ministry in this unique setting.
If you'd like more information, please contact the Rev. Larry Beane at: 504-256-3440. If you plan on attending, we'd appreciate a heads up for planning purposes. All are welcome!