The political referendum that rendered Crimea to the Russian Federation could impact church affiliation for seven Lutheran congregations.
Early in May, the Bishop’s Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and Other States (a federation of churches in the former Soviet Union) declared that governance and pastoral care for the Lutheran congregations in Crimea would remain with the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ukraine (GELCU).
But after the May 16 referendum, GELCU Bishop Serge Maschewski and Bishop Dietrich Brauer of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of European Russia (ELKER) co-signed a letter telling the congregations they were free to change their affiliation to another church when they reregister under the new political administration.
Both the GELCU and ELKER offered to provide legal assistance during the registration process.
“I am confident that with the help of our lawyers we will be able to solve all legal issues pertaining to the new situation,” Maschewski told Lutheran World Information.
At presstime, Maschewski said the situation was “quiet.” That was a change from February, when the Lutheran congregation in Kiev was offering first aid, coffee, tea and prayer for victims of the violence between demonstrators and special police forces after they clashed in Independence Square.
The Lutheran pastor for the seven congregations in Crimea had to leave for a short period due to the unrest, Maschewski said.
At the end of May the pastor and a deaconess were at “work as before ... on Crimea,” he said.
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