“Twenty years – step by step.” That was the name of the celebratory program dedicated to the anniversary of the Diaconal center in Gusev in the Kaliningrad oblast, June 1-3. There were many guests from around the region, from Germany; Archbishop Dietrich Brauer from Moscow was also in attendance.
“The Diaconal Center of Gusev” is an important social ministry project of the Kaliningrad deanery of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of European Russia. At present 5 trained deaconesses care for 23 patients – in general these are handicapped people without families.
The diaconal center was registered on June 1, 1998 and was one of the first such church projects in Russia. The founders were the Kaliningrad deanery and the "Stiftung Salzburger Аnstalt Gumbinnen" foundation from the German city of Bielefeld. The project began with educating women in this area of ministry through the courses lead by deaconess Erica Zeising from Bielefeld.
At that same time a group of people in the congregation took the initiative to make home visits to shut-ins together with Pastor Haye Osterwald and to provide for their basic health needs. At first these congregational members were volunteers; from 2000 it was possible to pay them for their work. But the people who receive the help receive it for free.
Also from 1998 to 2017 lunches for children from needy families from the city were served. And during the summer holidays summer camps are held for single mothers who raise handicapped children.
The “Gusev Diaconal Center” has everything necessary for the care of those who are homebound – from bandages and pampers to creams and gloves as well as crutches and wheelchairs. Much of this has been brought to the center by volunteers from Germany – both individuals and as representatives of various organizations. Over these 20 years these people have supported the center's ministry.
For that reason at the anniversary celebrations there were over 130 people from various places. It is difficult to measure the degree to which the center's sponsors have helped those in need throughout these two decades.
Dean Igor Ronge