Sunday, June 24, 2018

Women’s Ministry Seminar in Kazan

From June 8 to 12 a seminar on women’s ministry led by the husband and wife team of Gotthild and Erika Stein was held in Kazan. More than 20 women from various cities around Russia (Kamyshin, Cheboksary, Orenburg, Moscow, Samara, St. Petersburg, Ufa, Naberezhny Chelnov and Saratov) took part. There were also, of course, members from St. Catherine’s Lutheran in Kazan, as well as a participant from Vinnitsa (Ukraine). Her participation was an important sign of the unity of Evangelical Lutheran christians in Russia and Ukraine. Many have known each other for many years insofar as the tradition of women’s seminars has been preserved already for 15 years; four cycles of the “Life Stages” seminar have been held, and yet are constantly in demand. 

During the first day everyone got acquainted with one another and found a place to stay in the dormitory of the Roman Catholic congregation of the Holy Cross.
The seminar itself began on the second day with teachers Pastor Gotthilf and Erika Stein from Stuttgart. Pastor Stein is retired, and Erika leads the “Life Stages” Bible study in her retirement. Ruth Stubenitzky, the translator for the Novosaratovka Theological Seminary, prepared the materials and interpreted for the seminar.
The theme of the seminar was God’s blessing and was based on the Old Testament story of Jacob. For the whole seminar Erika led us through his life story. We met his parents (Isaac and Rebecca), his brother Esau, his wives Lila and Rachel, and his children, through whom God established the 12 tribes of Israel. Together with Jacob we felt both the joy of God’s blessing and reckoning for the deception of his father, felt banishment from home, saw the staircase to heaven on which the Lord Himself was standing and gave Jacob a new promise. We experienced many other twists and turns in Jacob’s life (from blessing to hopelessness, from hopelessness to new blessing) during the seminar. This happened thanks to the well-thought-out and heartfelt work of Erika Stein. She presented the whole Biblical story of Jacob in the memorable form of installations. Step by step together with Jacob we went along his path and learned to recognize God’s blessing running through our whole lives and remaining relevant even during the most difficult times. Erika used this example to show us that God knows our names and cares about every one of us, as He knew and cared for Jacob. Both during the seminar and during one-on-one discussions Erika attempted to show God’s limitless love for us, the heavens opened up for believers, and living faith in the Lord.
During the breaks between lessons and in the evening we walked around Kazan, a city we liked very much and which impressed us very much with the beauty of its streets, parks and buildings. On Sunday we took part in worship with Holy Communion at St. Catherine’s Lutheran, presided at by Pastor David Gorn with the sermon by Pastor Gotthild Stein. Many thanks are due to the hosts - the congregation members of St. Catherine’s, for the organization of the excursion around Kazan, for their work in organizing breaks during the seminar, and for their kindness and tireless care.
We thank the organizers of the seminar: the Dean of the Samara Deanery Olga Temirbulatova and the Dean of the Central Denery Elena Bondarenko. Their preparatory work ensured that the seminar could take place.
We are thankful to brothers and sisters in Gustav Adolph Worke foundation who provided support for the seminar. The Committee on Women’s Work for the foundation has already supported these seminars and other ministries for 15 years, including this year. This support has done much to assist women in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in European Russia.
Julia Vinogradova

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