I write this from Nikolayev, a city of 600,000 people in southern Ukraine. The Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Ukraine (SELCU) held the first day of its annual convention today, Thursday, January 8. Pastors and delegates from all but one of the congregations attended. Bishop Viktor Gräfenstein greeted the gathering and spoke of the big decisions requiring discussion over the next two days. The conference was run on a more formal schedule, similar to the one seen by Bishop Gräfenstein at Lutheran Church–Canada’s convention last June in Winnipeg.
I was invited to bring formal greetings on behalf of LCC and presented a pectoral cross to the Bishop from our Synod. In addition, pictures of LCC’s national office staff were shared with all delegates, since the staff prays regularly for the work in Ukraine.
I have preached no less than five times in the first six days of my visit here. At a service on Sunday, January 4, the congregation at Odessa decided to direct its Sunday offering to the work of LCC, and the funds from this offering have already been transmitted to me.
Among the problems here is the worldwide financial crisis, which, according to some estimates, may result in 70 percent unemployment in Ukraine before long. One delegate from a rural congregation reported that there are absolutely no jobs available in his village.
This weekend my travels take me to Yalta on the Black Sea. I then continue to Dnepropetrovsk to spend time with LCC missionary Pastor Aleksey Navrotskiy.
President Robert Bugbee