On Septuagesima Sunday, February 9, 2020, the 9th Sunday before Easter, Ivan Laptev was ordained as the new Bishop of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia.
The ordination ceremony and the celebration were held at St. Mary’s Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The episcopal ordination was performed by the Right Reverend Arri Kugappi, the Bishop of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia; the Most Reverend Jānis Vanags, the Archbishop of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia; the Right Reverend Vsevolod Lytkin, the Bishop of The Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church; the Right Reverend Tiit Salumäe, the Bishop of the Western and Northern Regions of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia; the Right Reverend Seppo Häkkinen, the Bishop of the Diocese of Mikkeli of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland; and the Reverend Pastor Mikhail Ivanov, the Chief Secretary of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia.
The divine liturgy opened with a ceremonial procession. In the front were the altar servers of St. Mary’s Cathedral Mikhail Repin with a processional cross and Dmitri Arevkin with an altar Bible (published in 1642 as the first complete publication of the biblical texts in Finnish). The cross and the Bible symbolized the following of Christ. Bishop Arri Kugappi’s younger daughter Heli Makarova and Bishop-Elect Ivan Laptev’s eldest son Pavel Laptev carried the altar candles. Mikhail Alyoshkin, the son of Rev. Aleksei Alyoshkin, the senior pastor of the Velmema Congregation in Saransk, ELCIR Ural Deanery, carried a bishop’s cope (cappa). (The bishop’s vestments were made by designer Kristina Rongonen, a member of St. George’s Lutheran in Koltushi, Leningrad Oblast). Seven-year-old Stefania, Bishop-Elect Laptev’s youngest daughter, carefully laid a bishop’s miter on the velvet top of the altar rail. Members of St. Mary’s Cathedral altar guild Aleksei Mikhailov and Vladislav Loginov carried a bishop’s cross and a gift edition of the Study Bible with a Commentary put out by Verbum, the Church’s publishing house, for the anniversary of the Reformation. Those were followed by pastors who serve St. Mary’s Congregation: Petteri Mannermaa, Aleksei Uimanen, Dmitri Rozet, and Fyodor Tulynin. Rev. Mikhail Ivanov, the senior pastor of St. Mary’s Congregation, Bishop-Elect Ivan Laptev, Bishops Seppo Häkkinen, Tiit Salumäe, Vsevolod Lytkin, Archbishop Jānis Vanags, and Bishop Arri Kugappi brought up the rear of the procession.
Rev. Mikhail Ivanov officiated at the divine liturgy and Bishop-Elect Ivan Laptev preached a sermon. His sermon was based on Matthew 20:1-16, the Parable of the Workers in a Vineyard, and talked about faithful and selfless service to Christ in the anticipation of the true reward which we will receive in Heaven.
Before the ordination began, Rev. Dmitri Rozet, the Assessor of The Church of Ingria, testified that the electoral Convention had taken place without any violations, and the election of the new bishop was legitimate and legal.
In his word of instruction, Bishop Arri Kugappi called the soon-to-be bishop of The Church of Ingria to continue the work of those predecessors who had courageously proclaimed the Word of God even in the time of persecution – in Siberia, on the Kola Peninsula, in Central Asia. “Those are seeds of martyrs that are bearing hundredfold fruit today,” said Bishop Arri Kugappi and by way of valediction read a text from 1 Timothy: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
In his episcopal oath, Ivan Laptev promised before the face of the Almighty and All-Knowing God to follow the holy Word of God and the confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church based on it, to care for the flock and the ministers, to contribute to the strengthening of peace in the country. “So help me God!” came the concluding words of the oath, in response to which Bishop Arri Kugappi said, “By the authority given to me by the Church, according to the Word of God, in accordance with the Standing Orders of the Church, together with brothers in our shared ministry, I consecrate you to the office of a bishop, in the name of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!”
The Bishops and the ELCIR Chief Secretary prayerfully laid their hands on the head of Ivan Laptev who was kneeling in front of the altar. Then, the new Bishop of The Church of Ingria was vested in the cope and had the miter set upon his head. Bishop Emeritus Arri Kugappi handed a bishop’s staff (crosier) to the new bishop Ivan Laptev. The moment the newly-ordained bishop faced the congregants, Martin Luther’s chorale Ein’ feste Burg was performed.
The celebratory liturgy opened and concluded with J. S. Bach music. On this important day in the life of The Church of Ingria, the organ was played by Marina Väisä, the Chief Organist of St. Mary’s Cathedral, an assistant professor of the Organ and Harpsichord Chair of the St. Petersburg Conservatory. She played the Prelude in C major (BWV 531/1) at the beginning and the Fugue from the Toccata in E major (BWV 566) at the end.
Three choirs accompanied the divine worship service with their singing: Caritas Choir of St. Mary’s Cathedral (led by Ludmila Shmidrina), Marian laulu Choir of St. Mary’s Cathedral (led by Anna Tveritinova), and the Choir of St. George’s Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Koltushi (led by Maria Skipper).
The attendance of the festive liturgy was so high that Holy Communion was distributed not only at the chancel as is customary, but also on both sides of the worship room in front of the chancel and on the second- and third-level balconies.
Our cordial congratulations for the new Bishop of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria! We wish him God’s help in his ministry and God’s richest blessings!
ELCIR Press Service
Photo credits: Liliann Keskinen, Heikki Jääskeläinen