Activities of the St. Petersburg Deanery of The Church of Ingria
Summer Spiritual Days. Fathers & Children Camping.
It’s been around ten years that the St. Petersburg Deanery has been organizing summertime retreats and outings for church members called Spiritual Days. The idea originated from the close friendship with Firstborn Laestadians in Finland. Tapio Nieminen once suggested to Dean Ivan Hutter doing summer activities in Russia similar to those in Finland. It has become a tradition to involve elderly church members in those activities, so spiritual days became diaconal days. In the recent years, the average annual attendance has been ca. 80 people from the St. Petersburg Deanery (Koltushi, St. Mary’ Church in St. Petersburg, Pushkin, Toksovo, Yukki, and other congregations) and the West Ingrian Deanery (Skvoritsy, Volosovo, Gubanitsy).
The usual days have been Friday to Sunday. First, there would be a trip on a bus. In different years, the participants visited Staraya Ladoga, Oreshek, Peterhof, the congregations in Sevastyanovo, Kronstadt, Gubanitsy, and others. On the shore of the Gulf of Finland, they would have a picnic with brothers and sisters in Christ from Lahti, Finland. On the second day, in addition to the seniors, everyone would be invited to the church in Koltushi to hear of the sermons of Russian and Finnish pastors and lay preachers and have small-group discussions on assigned topics. On Sunday, they would attend a worship service and have a meal together in the dining room of the Theological Institute in Koltushi.
The goal of these activities is to invite as many believers as possible to spend time together fellowshipping and building each other up. The elderly church members would be looking forward to this event trying to organize their time in such a way that they could attend, because not all of them are able to travel, whereas this is a chance to go on an excursion together on a bus. The days would include social time and prayer time over a cup of tea and a chance to use one’s spiritual gifts when the more knowledgeable church members can share something with others. This year, however, there was no excursion trip. The deanery was able to fund all the activities out of its own funds. Thanks be to God for the Summer Spiritual Days of July 18-19, 2020! As always, this was a uniting experience for church members from different localities.
In addition to Spiritual Days and the family camping we shared about earlier, the plan of the deanery’s summer activities includes an outing called Fathers & Children. In the past, it was called Men’s Mission, however the fathers wanted to take along their daughters as well, so the name was changed. Pastors Ivan Hutter and Aleksei Uimanen used Mission Department’s funds to buy tents, inflatable rowing boats, and fishing rods. All of those are still in use, but church members have since bought additional rowing boats, and the church in Koltushi has bought a motorboat making the outing even better equipped.
The goal of the outing is to unite the male members of the deanery who are often too busy at their jobs and are unable to devote quality time to the spiritual instruction of their children. The outing includes Bible studies and small-group discussions. Besides, it’s important to teach the younger generation how to pitch a tent, make a campfire, and catch fish, although some of the adults haven’t got those skills either. A chance for everyone to learn!
The next Fathers & Children Camping is scheduled in Karelia for August 14-16, 2020.
Our sincere acknowledgements to Rev. Ivan Hutter, Dean of the ELCIR St. Petersburg Deanery, for the information!
Source & photos: VK