According to Rev. Alan Ludwig, “from Siberia just about every direction is south.” Rev. Ludwig teaches at the theological institute of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Novosibirsk, Russia, and has been involved in the education there almost from its inaugural year in 1997. This month, however, he got to go south, to Concordia Seminary, just outside of Odessa, Ukraine. The Ukrainian seminary was opened in 1998 and all teaching is done in Russian. The seminary has received students from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Belarus and Georgia.
Rev. Ludwig was invited to teach a three-week course on the Psalms. He shares,
“This seminary, like ours in Novosibirsk, is fairly small, having six students. These are all in their final year of studies. In their church tradition they get lots of experience preaching, so are already full of ideas. Because they come from a different Lutheran tradition than I, we sometimes have lively discussion when I present to them something that’s new to them, or in a way they haven’t heard it before.
The course I’m teaching is on the Psalms. Here I attempt to direct the students toward the original life-settings of the psalms, especially to their use in the tabernacle and temple. From there we find the messianic meaning of various psalms and their relevance in the life of the church today. It’s rather different from teaching in Novosibirsk. These students haven’t studied Hebrew, so it’s harder to explain to them how things could be translated differently from the wording in their Bibles. They are quite receptive to this kind of instruction, however.
The seminary is a self-contained unit, having a classroom, living quarters, a kitchen, and a dining room, on three floors. Three times a day we gather for meals. There’s table prayer before and after eating. Before our first class we have morning devotions, where I or one of the students presents on a chosen text. The students themselves do the cooking and cleaning.”
He also shared that the local synod, the Ukrainian Evangelical Lutheran Synod, one of three Lutheran church bodies in Ukraine, is affiliated with the Lutheran Church—Canada, an LCMS partner. Through the local parish, Rev. Ludwig, the seminary students and the local pastor traveled to Odessa to distribute food to the poor. He shared that the damp sea breeze made it necessary to layer clothes as much as in Novosibirsk, Russia, even though the air temperature was significantly warmer.
As Rev. Ludwig wrapped up his time in Odessa, he asked for prayers “that the wondrous Gospel of Jesus Christ, so richly and variedly and deeply revealed in the Book of Psalms, will penetrate their hearts and invigorate them to proclaim it to others as they leave the seminary and go to their places of service as vicars and pastors.”
- Pray for Lutheran theological education being done around the world.
- Support the work of the Rev. Alan Ludwig in Novosibirsk, Russia.