Saturday, April 7, 2018

Congregational Anniversary Year Starts With Book Presentation

On January 28th St. Mary's Evangelical Lutheran church in Saratov hosted a book presentation. O.Litsenberger, A. Deryugin and N. Kolomitsev co-authored a book about the Saratov congregation on its 250th anniversary... which will officially take place only in 2020; since historical documents give no exact date of the foundation of the congregation, this date is calculated based on the first time the congregation is referenced in external sources.
The book is entitled “St. Mary's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Saratov at the 250th Anniversary of its Founding.” This publication acts as a follow up to the first book about St. Mary's Lutheran, published 22 years ago, in 1995. It is targeted at historians and others for whom it is interesting to know about the Lutheran church in the city and its influence there throughout the years. The book covers the life of the congregation, its relationship with the government authorities, the difficult fate of those who ministered in the congregation in the 20th century, and the development of the congregation in our days.
The book presentation started the process of celebrating two other anniversaries related to the history of Saratov Lutherans. On October 6, 2018, 225 years will have passed since the dedication of the first St. Mary's church in the city, and on November 22 it will be 25 years since the congregation's rebirth. Unfortunately the first building lasted only 83 years
(1793-1876) and was seriously damaged in a fire. The second St Mary's arose 3 years later (1879-1970), but was destroyed during the time of state atheism. It was located on the central city street – German Street (now Kirov) and was built according to the plans of the world-famous architect from Berlin, Johann-Eduard Jakob Stahl.
The logo of the anniversary shows three crosses: the first is black-purple and symbolizes the tragic fate of the first building; the second is red and is a reminder of the sufferings of the period of repression, and the third is a white cross which is a symbol of the contemporary church building which is already 11 years old and the hope for long years of the the triumph of love, goodness and spiritual peace in Saratov and in the country as a whole. The appendixes to the book are also of great value – archival materials and rare photographs.

The President of the ELCR General Synod and Dean of the Saratov area Andrey Dzhamgarov, led the event. Elena Heydt, the representative of the publisher, the regional coordinator of the International Union of German Culture and the chair of the “National-Cultural Group of Russian Germans of the Marx region, personally congratulated those in attendance on the occasion of the anniversary and also read a congratulatory letter from the First Deputy President of the International Union of German Culture, Olga Martens.
Then the congregation and guests heard the letter from the main author of the two books, Professor Olga Litzenberger, Ph.D. “On this significant day I personally and all the authors of the book want to express to you, dear pastors, members of church councils and congregational members, our gratitude for your many years of irreproachable work. I congratulate all of you with the publication of this new book about the Saratov congregation.”

After this the co-authors of the book – church council member Alexander Deryugin and church council member, journalist and linguist Nikolai Kolomiytsev, spoke about how this publication was put together, and in particular drew the attention of readers to three very interesting chapters filled with abundant historical facts.
After this there was a ceremony thanking those who cooperated with the authors - each of the former of which were given a copy of the book and a certificate of thanks. Also a copy of the book was given to each of the two largest regional libraries.
Representatives of the government also were present at this event. Dmitry Konusov, the vice minister of internal affairs and civil society for the Saratov oblast, was in attendance. Elena Poznyakova, the head of the department of relations with cultural institutions for the Saratov oblast, also greeted the congregation and guests of the event.
Representatives of other Christian denominations in the region were also invited to the book presentation. The head priest of St. Clement Roman Catholic Church in Saratov, Andrey Slavik, gave a heartfelt congratulations to all in attendance on the occasion of the publication of the book and the double anniversary of the congregation.
After this those in attendance could ask questions of the authors and also receive signed copies. The day ended with a reception.

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