The Evangelical Lutheran Church of European Russia (ELCER) holds worship services at 140 locations and has 54 pastors, 30 of whom serve full time.
It is part of the St. Petersburg-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Central Asia (ELCROS). This umbrella group of Lutherans has seven member churches as well as regional congregations in 10 independent states, including Azerbajian, Belarus, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Far East (the Urals and Siberia), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
The ELCA supports ministry in Russia. For 2012, the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy and ELCROS will receive $30,000 and $15,000, respectively, in funding support from the ELCA.
And three ELCA synods have companion partnerships with Russian Lutherans:
• Northwest Washington Synod: ELCER.
• Northeastern Minnesota Synod: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia, a 75-congregation, 15,000-member body, which also relates to the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
• Central States Synod: Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Urals, Siberia and the Far East.
Since the March 2011 election of a young adult, Dietrich Brauer (now 29), as bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of European Russia (ELCER), winds of change have wafted through one of its congregations — Moscow's lofty St. Peter and Paul Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral.
Perhaps Russia's most magnificent Lutheran structure, St. Peter and Paul — one mile east of the Kremlin — is fast becoming a focal point of Russian Protestant life. Weddings, conventions and concerts from many Protestant quarters take place there weekly. And since January 2012, the ecumenical, space-cramped Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy has run a medical clinic for the needy in the basement. The cathedral also rents out office space in its outlying buildings, supplementing the congregation's income.
|Markus Schnepel, a pastor from the German Embassy (left) and Dietrich Brauer, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of European Russia, lead a worship service at St. Peter and Paul.|
The St. Peter and Paul congregation is beginning to grow again after the previous minister's removal and a difficult leadership transition in 2011 that led to the departure of some parishioners. Now 50 to 80 members attend worship on Sundays and prospects are bright. Separate German- and Russian-language services have been reduced to once a month. Regular Sunday services combine Russian and German elements of liturgy and music.
The congregation has many hopes, including raising $27,000 to install a sound system in the massive, main sanctuary — something rejected by previous leadership.
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