KIEV, Ukraine – Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) President Robert Bugbee arrived today (January 2) for an extensive visit with the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches of Ukraine (SELCU) and its bishop, Rev. Dr. Viktor Gräfenstein. Although LCC has not established formal fellowship between the two churches, SELCU and LCC have worked together for many years. LCC has provided seminary training for SELCU under the direction of Dr. Norman Threinen and Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Edmonton.
During his 16-day visit, President Bugbee will preach in Kagarlyk, Odessa, Yalta and Dnepropetrovsk, among other congregations. He will join Christmas celebrations on January 7, as many SELCU parishes still follow the Eastern church calendar. He also plans to address a two-day pastoral conference in Nikolayev. An important part of his time in Ukraine will be visiting LCC missionary, Pastor Alexey Navrotskiy in Dnepropetrovsk, who serves as a missionary to university students.
“I am especially eager to see SELCU’s new seminary building at Usatovo in suburban Odessa,” the president noted. “This facility is close to completion, but the final touches were delayed by rampant inflation in Ukraine, so that gifts from Canada were not quite able to finish the job.” The president added that Concordia Lutheran Mission Society (CLMS) has been especially helpful in channeling support for this project to Ukraine.
President Bugbee is accompanied on this trip by Oleg Schewtschenko, a native of Dnepropetrovsk, who is an LCC “foreign mission student” at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines. Seminarian Schewtschenko, who has been in Canada since 2007, will provide translating and other support services during the visit, and will use this time to “re-connect” with co-workers in his homeland. He is expected to return to Ukraine after his studies in Canada to assist with theological education in SELCU.