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A Trip to Tomsk: Liturgy, Instruction, Discussion

Fr. Alexei Streltsov and seminarian Andrei Lipnitsky made a trip on the fifth Sunday of Lent to St. Marys Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tomsk. While there is no regular priest living in Tomsk, the pastor of the parish, Fr. Vsevolod Lytkin, and other priests from Novosibirsk come to Tomsk regularly to conduct Eucharistic services there. Priests come from one to two times per month, and the rest of the time Deacon Fr. Alexander Hahn, an LTS graduate, conducts the services. Fr. Alexander currently lives with his family in Tomsk.

During a pastoral visitation, a joint service is conducted that gathers parishioners of St. Mary's parish and of the German Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Tomsk. After the service, Deacon Alexander Hahn has held a class on the Small Catechism for all parishioners. These classes began after Fr. Hahn attended an LTS conference in Novosibirsk with the theme Catechises in the Lutheran Church. At the end of the class, Fr. Alexei also answered the questions of some parishioners about the differences in numbering of The Ten Commandments in the East and West and on the proper Lutheran attitude toward icons and images.

During the subsequent teatime, a spontaneous discussion erupted among some guests who had Reformed convictions about the theological differences between the Lutherans and Reformed. The argument was mainly concentrated around predestination and the teaching on the presence of the true Body and Blood of Christ in the Supper. An LTS fourth-year student, Lipnitsky, participated in this conversation along with Fr. Alexei and Fr. Alexander. This discussion was relevant to him in particular because of the subject of his graduation diploma work, which will be about the doctrine of the Sacrament and the Christology of Luther.

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