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Fr. Andrew Pfeiffer, " Parish Catechesis and Evangelism", March 2001

What a privilege to be here at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk. It is a world apart from where I live and yet I find a common commitment to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, a common desire to be actively involved in God's mission, and a common Lutheran liturgical/sacramental piety.

My name is Andrew Pfeiffer and I have come for an intensive in April 2001, Evangelism and Catechetics in the parish. I am from Australia and teach at Luther Seminary, the tertiary institution of the Lutheran Church of Australia. We are a small but dedicated faculty and this means we teach in a range of subject areas. I teach pastoral theology, missiology, formula of concord, parish education and worship.

Sue and I have been happily married for 21 years, no small feat since I have dragged her and the family overseas for two periods of study in 1990-91 (STM) and again in 1997 (Doctor of Missiology). We have been blessed with three boys, Joshua (17), Benjamin (15) and Todd (13). They are all very active and enjoy playing Australian Rules Football and cricket.

I served in my first parish at Hampstead in South Australia for six years. It remains one of the joys of my life since it was the context where I first learnt to be a steward of the mysteries (1 Cor. 4: 1). God blessed me with patient and wise laity and wonderful presidents who offered both encouragement and correction to this young pastor. After two years of further study I returned to a half time position at the seminary and a half time position in another parish. Since both roles were primarily teaching this was the period when I think I learnt most about catechetics, and came to realize the significance of healthy words (sound doctrine) for God's people (1 Tim 4: 6; 2 Tim 1: 3). For the last ten years, with the exception of 1997, I have been full time at the seminary where I now direct the pastoral program for pastoral ministry students.

In Novosibirsk I am teaching Evangelism and Catechetics in the parish. Lutherans have a distinct approach to evangelism. We believe Matthew 28: 18-20 not only reveals to us God's mission intention, but God's mission means. Disciples of Jesus Christ are made by baptizing and teaching. The catechism is structured to function as evangelistic teaching. The commandments reveal sin, the Creed sets out God's work for us, the Lord's Prayer shapes our stance towards God and his gifts, and Baptism, absolution and the Lord's Supper actually deliver to us in the 21st century what Christ won on the cross. What remains for us is to learn to teach the catechism into our context, and to learn to invite both those outside the faith and within the church to such teaching. We have enjoyed doing just that for the past two weeks.

God bless this infant church and make it a blessing to the rest of world Lutheranism.

 

Fr. Chad Bird, "Biblical Hermeneutics," September 2000.

For three weeks I have been privileged to teach a course on biblical hermeneutics to the students of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk. It is my pleasure to tell you about myself and the work I have done here.

My name is the Rev. Chad L. Bird. My wife, Audra, and I have been blessed with one daughter, Auriana, who is two years old, and a second child who is due to be born in late October. I received my seminary education at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Having graduated in 1996, I remained an additional year to pursue a Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) in Old Testament exegesis. I graduated with the S.T.M. in May 1999. My thesis, which examines the biblical and extra-biblical traditions about Melchizedek, will be published by Concordia Publishing House (possibly in the fall of 2001).

I was ordained into the Holy Ministry in June 1997. I currently serve as pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wellston, Oklahoma.

As mentioned above, the seminary students and I have been studying biblical hermeneutics, that is, the holy art and sacred task of biblical interpretation. Pastors baptize people in the living waters of Holy Baptism, feed them with the flesh and blood of God's Son, and lead them to hear the voice of Jesus speaking to them through his Holy Scriptures. In hermeneutics, one's ears are trained to hear that voice of Jesus speaking in all of the Scriptures and one's eyes are trained to see Christ as the goal, content, and focus of both the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is not a handbook of rules or a collection of religious literature, but the Spirit's witness to God's Son and all he has done for our salvation. In the Old Testament God speaks of his Son in prophecies and types, and in the New Testament the Incarnate Son makes known his Father. Christian, Lutheran hermeneutics, therefore, ask this fundamental question of every part of the Bible: How, in this text, is the Spirit showing the Son of the Father to the church?

This was my second time to teach at LTS. In January of 1999, I made my first journey here and was delighted to have the opportunity to return. It has been my joy to be among God's chosen children here in Siberia. I am thankful for the men whom God is shaping and molding to serve His church, and whom I have been honored to teach. May the Lord of the church continue to bless the preaching of His Word and the giving of His Sacraments here in this place.

 

Fr. Kent A. Heimbigner, “History of the Reformation,” May 2000.

I am Fr. Kent A. Heimbigner. I received my M.Div. from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1989, and an S.T.M. in 1991. My major was dogmatic theology and my minor was historical theology. My S.T.M. thesis, dealing with the relation of the Office of the Holy Ministry to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, is now published and available from Repristination Press in Malone, Texas, under the title In the Stead of Christ. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate (working on my dissertation) at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, majoring in church history and minoring in philosophy. I intend to write my dissertation on some of the writings of Johann Gerhard.

I have served as Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Marlin, Texas, from 1990 until 1997. I am currently the Senior Pastor of Charity Lutheran Church in Burleson, Texas, where I have served since 1997.

God has given me almost fourteen years now of a wonderful marriage to my beautiful and faithful wife, Denise. God has given us four delightful children as well: William Athanasius (9), Maria Anastasia (7), Anna Natasha (6), and Joseph Amadeus (3). We are also expecting another one, due about December 1 of this year (2000). As though the unfathomable gift of salvation were not enough, God has richly blessed us in these other ways as well. For all that His mercy gives us, we give thanks and praise to Him in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It was my very great joy and privilege to teach the history of the Reformation here at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk, Siberia. I had eleven students, all of whom seemed very dedicated not only to learning the material I taught, but to the task of preparing themselves for faithful service to the Lord in the future. Most of them hope to become pastors, and I have every confidence that the Lord will have great use of them.

Our study of the history of the Reformation helped to clarify a number of things. We saw how, for Luther, the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith in and salvation. We saw the dangers of placing faith in the inner workings Christ alone became the driving force behind his other writings and reforming work. We saw what happens when someone becomes more concerned about changing outward matters than about people’s faith of God, rather than in the certain outward gifts of Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and the Holy Supper of our Lord. And we saw the great comfort of a faith rightly grounded in Jesus Christ crucified as He is revealed in Holy Scripture, and delivered to each of us personally in His saving gifts.

While on the one hand, of course, this class was a study of church history, we saw that the issues were quite relevant to today. We still have people who sincerely desire to serve the Lord, but who seek the certainty of their salvation in their own fickle inward ability to sense the moving of the Holy Spirit. We still have people who pursue their agenda of what the church ought to look like, without regard to the spiritual well-being of God’s people. And of course, we still have people who will sell us indulgences and tell us that Scripture alone cannot be trusted. So we have studied church history. We have seen the mistakes people made and the consequences of those mistakes. But we have also had the joy of seeing how God has continued to save people by His grace, and to protect and further the work of his Church. Seeing what He has done in the sixteenth century only encourages us to place our hope and trust in Him as He continues today to impart the glorious gifts of salvation: in Siberia, in Texas, and in “all nations,” wherever the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and the Sacraments are administered according to His institution.

 

Fr. Brent Kuhlman, “Lutheran Confessions,” January 2000.

My name is Rev. Brent W. Kuhlman. I serve Trinity Lutheran Church, Murdock, Nebraska. It is a small but lovely Lutheran parish in the country. Trinity is over 100 years old. There are around 210 baptized members. My wife is Robin and our three children are Allison (7 years old), Jacob (5 years old), and Carlie (2 years old). My wife is an elementary school teacher. I am a graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri (M.Div. 1990; S.T.M. 1995). I am a doctoral candidate at Concordia Seminary.

I taught an intensive course on the theology of the Lutheran Confessions at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosobirsk. What a wonderful class! The students worked hard. It is hoped that they have begun to learn that the apex of pastoral care for the Lutheran pastor is faith that justifies before God. This is the faith that clings to the crucified and risen Christ, who reveals and delivers the forgiveness of sins through the Word and Sacraments in the Divine Service. This teaching experience was absolutely wonderful for me. In addition, I want to extol the theological seminar that the seminary and Bible Lutheran Church sponsor occasionally. I was able to participate in the recent seminar. It was well attended, and the presenters and topics were very good. I hope this continues.

Novosobirsk was not what I expected. I did not expect such a large city with so many things going on. Usually Americans think of Siberia differently. I enjoyed all the snow. We usually receive snow in Nebraska, but this year there has been very little. I was very impressed by the seminary and the work of the Lutheran Church here in Russia. The students receive an excellent theological education with Pastor Ludwig, Deacon Streltsov, and other guest professors teaching them. This education here at the seminary will be so beneficial for the church at large. The daily chapel services, the confessional service, as well as the Wednesday Eucharist are superb opportunities to begin to mold the students into evangelical Lutheran pastors.

My hope for the Lutheran church in Siberia is that God will allow her to plant more churches and to provide them with more pastors. I believe the future is bright for Lutheranism here. After all, it is the faith of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. The seminary and the students are deeply committed to the teaching of the church. These are very exciting times. The Lord remains true to His promise: Not even the gates of hell will prevail. As it was then under the old communist government, so it will be today. So it will continue until the Lord returns in glory.

The peace of the Lord be with all of you.

 

Fr. Richard Stuckwisch, “Early Church History,” April 1999.

Jesu Nomine

It has been my privilege and great pleasure, now for the second time, to instruct the students of Lutheran Theological Seminary in the history and theology of the Early Church-from the days of the Apostles until the first four Ecumenical Councils in the third and fourth centuries. I am the Rev. Don Richard Stuckwisch, Jr., better known to my family and friends as "Rick." I am a graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I received the Master of Divinity degree in 1993, and where I am currently completing the Master of Sacred Theology degree. I am also a doctoral candidate in liturgical studies at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, where I have been a student since 1994, and where I received the Master of Arts degree in 1997. It is also in South Bend that I serve as the Pastor of Emmaus Evangelical Lutheran Church (LCMS), where I was ordained to the Office of the Holy Ministry in 1996.

My dear wife, LaRena, and I have been married for almost sixteen years now, as I write this, since June of 1985. The Lord has blessed us most graciously and abundantly with six healthy children. The Russian students and members of the LTS "family" have been amazed, not only by the number of our children, but also by their many names: DoRena Christine Mary-Agnes (14), Zachary Richmond Peter (12), Nicholai Martin Ignatius (6), Monica Anastasia Rose-Marie (4), Ariksander Robert James Carl (2), and Oly'anna Phillippa Elizabeth Mary (10 months). It has been such a joy to share pictures and stories of my family with all of those who have become so near and dear to me here in Novosibirsk. Especially since our youngest, Oly'anna, was named for my faithful translator-and my whole family's dear friend-Olga "Anna" Suhinina, whom I first met here in Novosibirsk two years ago on my first teaching trip to LTS.

The teaching of Early Church history and theology is a special joy for me, as it has provided me the opportunity to hand over to others what I have gratefully received as a gift from my own dear fathers in Christ-in this case, in particular, Dr. William Weinrich of CTS in Fort Wayne, who taught me not only the facts but also a love and appreciation for the fathers of the Church.

It would be impossible for me to hide that love and appreciation in my teaching of this important history. But it is far more than any nostalgic fondness for the past. It is a recognition of the Church's history as a living theology, and her theology as rooted in history, even as the Holy Triune God has been actively present and at work-speaking His Word and granting His gifts-in the time and space of His creation. The crescendo is in the Incarnation of the Son of God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; but He continues to speak His Word to us and to work among us in the Ministry of His Gospel, which is the flesh and blood of His Church on earth. In teaching the history of that Church, therefore, especially to those who will be called and ordained to that Ministry, I rejoice in the knowledge that both I and these dear students belong to those who have gone before us, even as they also belong to us as our fathers in Christ.

It has been such an immeasurable blessing to me to be granted a place in this beautiful work of the Russian Project and Lutheran Theological Seminary. It is my hope and prayer that the Lord in His mercy has caused the efforts of His frail servant to be a blessing in return.

Soli Deo Gloria propter Christum

 

Fr. James Winsor, “Christology,” December 1998.

It has been my great joy, honor, and delight to gather around God’s Word and Sacrament with six fine young seminary students here in Siberia for three weeks. Our topic of study has been Christology, the study of Christ’s person and work.

We’ve gone at our task four different ways: First and most importantly, we’ve been looking at what the Bible says about Christ’s person and work in both the Old and the New Testaments. This has fed our faith. Second, we’ve taken a stroll through early church history to see how the devil tried to confuse people about Christ and to see how the Holy Spirit preserved Christ’s voice of sound teaching throughout these challenging centuries of history. Many of the errors our forefathers battled in this time confront us today in the cults. Third, we’ve carefully examined what our Lutheran fathers have had to say about Christ’s person and work as these reformers confronted errors in their own day, errors that still threaten the church by way of the sects. And last of all, we’ve examined what Christology has to do with our liturgical church year and our blessed sacraments and other rituals of church life.

I am very proud of each of the six young men who have studied these things under my encouragement and care. Each of them is clearly a divine gift blessed through the church, and destined for the church.

My regular area of service is parish ministry in a small mission church in Arvada, Colorado, USA. There are only about 100 members. Like Bible Lutheran Church in Novosibirsk, we have had no church building since we began in January of 1994. We’ve moved around to several locations, but our Christ has come with us in His Gospel and Sacraments. We are finally building a church now and hope to dedicate it to God’s glory in March.

When I attended seminary I enjoyed studying early church history more than anything else, but I enjoyed most of my studies. I graduated in 1985 and was then sent to a Lutheran High School in Missouri, where I taught Bible courses for three years, led chapel services, and counseled students. After this, I served as an assistant pastor in a church in Missouri. I have served in Colorado ever since.

Our Lord has generously blessed me with a patient, brave, and orthodox wife, Jan. We are also blessed with three children, two boys and one girl, ages 3-13.

The Lutheran Church emerging in Russia seems to me to be full of promise under God’s blessing. My prayer is that she be kept sound in teaching, zealous in mission, and generous in love.

As I leave Russia we prepare to celebrate Christmas. Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from all eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is our Lord, who has redeemed us lost and condemned sinners. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). In His Person and in His Church, man and God find their union. What a sweet and eternal union this is!

 

Fr. Alan Ludwig, Staff Professor of Exegetical and Dogmatic Theology.

My name is Alan Ludwig. My wife, Patricia, and I have three grown daughters: Sarah, Gretchen, and Trina. Sarah is married has twin girls. I graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1989 and received the S.T.M. degree in 1992. Currently I am working on my doctoral dissertation in Old Testament Exegesis. From 1992-1998 I served as pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church, Cresbard, South Dakota, and Immanuel Lutheran Church, Wecota, South Dakota (USA). For several years I have been part of the staff of the Lutheran theological journal LOGIA, for which I do editorial work and for which Patricia does the page layout.

In September 1998 I received a call from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, to serve in Novosibirsk full time as a professor. Patricia and I had come here for three months in the winter of 1998, when I was invited to teach Hebrew and Old Testament Isagogics. All of the professors up to this time had been guest lecturers and had stayed for short periods of time ranging from three weeks to three months. It was felt that more continuity was needed than short-term lecturers can provide, and I am glad to be here to fill that need as the Lord gives strength and wisdom. Although there will continue to be visiting professors teaching a variety of courses, I hope to add the stability of a constant presence amidst the comings and goings.

Among the courses I have taught here is a course on the Book of Exodus. In so many ways Exodus provides the foundation for our greater deliverance in Christ. Not only is it full of typology of Christ and the church; the book of Exodus also shows us how God works through means to call, gather, and preserve His people. He brought Israel into being through the ministry of Moses and Aaron, through the spoken word of deliverance, through the “baptism” of the Red Sea, and through the priestly ministry of the tabernacle and His gracious presence there. What a beautiful portrayal this is of how God in Christ still works! Through the ministry of the Word and Sacraments He calls and gathers His church “and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one, true faith.”

One of the great events here in Novosibirsk is the monthly seminar held at Bible Lutheran Church for church workers and interested laity. Each month various topics are presented. One of my most beloved themes for these seminars is “Liturgical Worship in the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions,” which I taught in November 1998. In this seminar we searched the Scriptures to see how the liturgy is not something simply tacked on to Scripture, but grows out of God’s Word in its theology and its content. The liturgy reflects the scriptural rhythm of God’s gracious coming to sinners followed by the response of thanks and praise from those who have received his grace. It leads us through the “sacred time” of God’s mighty, saving deeds in Christ and guards us from the whims and agendas of man. Above all, the liturgy adorns and offers the wonderful gifts our Lord has given us for our salvation and through which He still comes to us and blesses us: His Word and his Sacraments. Far from being extra-biblical, the liturgy lives and breathes God’s words! The liturgy is scriptural in the fullest sense of the word-and for that matter, Scripture itself is liturgical. Thus our Lutheran Confessions joyfully and thankfully uphold the liturgy.

Despite missing our family and friends in America, Patricia and I are both very glad to be here at the seminary in Novosibirsk. I believe that the work here is highly important for the Lutheran Church here in Russia and am proud and awed to have a share in it. Please include the seminary, the students, the staff, and the lecturers in your prayers.

 

Fr. Kenneth Korby, “Pastoral Theology and Practice,” October 1998.

For me it has been an honor and pleasure to be with the students and other workers of Lutheran Theological Seminary. For 50 years I have been a pastor and for 35 years I have done special study in the areas of the pastor’s life and work. In 1963 I received my Master of Sacred Theology degree from Yale University Divinity School. My thesis was on Wilhelm Loehe, Pastor. In 1976 I was invested with the Doctor of Theology degree. My dissertation was on the Pastoral Theology of Wilhelm Loehe. And so, when I was invited to Novosibirsk to teach about the pastor’s life and work, it seemed as though I had been preparing all my life for such a time.

St. Paul teaches us that he who desires the office of bishop (that is, pastor of a congregation) desires a good work. Does a man want the title “bishop”—or does he want the work? It was this work of the bishop, that is, the pastor’s life and work, that we studied and that I wanted to teach. The pastor is to know the doctrine and to teach it to his people. He must be a good and faithful soldier of Jesus Christ, patient and ready to suffer, steady to instruct, comfort, encourage, rebuke, and correct his people. For this work, the pastor needs to pray, to study, to learn, to preach, to teach the Catechism and Bible study. To care for troubled sinners, he needs to be taught how to hear confession and absolve sinners, as Jesus commanded. The pastor’s work as leader of the liturgy and servant of the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Holy Supper means he must know how to care for the life of faith and love in the congregation. The pastor teaches people about marriage and family life, he cares for the sick and dying, and he instructs and comforts them in times of trouble. These were the things we studied together as I taught the students. To learn to be a pastor and to do the pastor’s work, we need to go to school under Jesus, the Good Shepherd and the Great Bishop of our souls. Together we were in school under His Word and Spirit …. We are bound together in our Lord Jesus Christ and await His glorious coming at the end of all time. We are pilgrims going home. May you go with God as He goes with you. As the Cloud of Glory was over Israel by day and the Pillar of Fire by night, so may the glory and grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ be on you and remain with you forever. Amen! Let God be magnified.

 


 © 2000, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Novosibirsk, Russia