On September 26, 2020, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in Petrozavodsk, Karelia, hosted a warm meeting of the Karelian Deanery. The event gathered around 60 people from the congregations in Derevyanka, Kondopoga, Olonets, Petrozavodsk, Rabocheostrovsk, Segezha, Sodder, Sortavala, Tyrö Congregation, Chalny as well as students from the Theological Institute with their rector.
After a festive communion service celebrated by Bishop Ivan Laptev and Dean of the Karelian Deanery Pastor Aleksei Kronholm, the bishop shared about the life of The Church of Ingria in 2020. During the pandemic, the clergy used modern technology to reassure the believers and proclaimed the Gospel to even more people than before. Diaconal aid efforts and the service of children & youth workers and the sponsor assistance department never stopped. The church members kept supporting their churches with donations. The Theological Institute continued working. Our church body incorporated new local religious organizations and religious groups and is in talks about incorporating groups in Southern Russia and Udmurtia.
A quiz in the style of the Jeopardy! TV show was an excellent test of the participants’ knowledge of the Bible, the Catechism, and the church history. The Righteous and the Sinners teams competed answering such questions as giving the exact Bible verse references, the names of the articles of the Creed, the date of the Council of Chalcedon, the number of sacraments in the Small Catechism or petitions in the Lord’s Prayer and others.
During the Bible study on the topic “My Yoke is Easy, and My Burden is Light,” Rev. Aleksei Kronholm presented a short excursus into history, showing what a yoke looked like in the old times and how it was made to fit the size of a specific animal and, more importantly, was used with two animals simultaneously. Likewise, we don’t carry our burdens alone, but Jesus helps each of us. What is required of us is absolute trust for Him. We, too, can cheerfully carry the burdens of our loved ones when we want to ease their suffering even if only a little. The book Let us pray: a handbook for the family prayers by Josepf Imberg has this wonderful prayer:
“Oh Jesus Christ, our Lord, we give You thanks for sharing the hardships of our life and all our anxieties and suffering. In all that, You found peace and rest in the presence of Your Heavenly Father. Dear Savior, we pray that You share all our burdens that continually weigh us down and all the suffering that befalls us. We give You thanks for Your promise as You said, ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Help us believe in this promise! Help us find rest in Your presence! And one day, help us find rest in Your heavenly dwelling place! Amen.”
The Bible groups led by the bishop, the dean, Pastor Fyodor Sidorenko, and Deacon Anton Rudoi, discussed the topic “Who is a Christian?” A Christian is not someone who does many things in the church, but one who has been called by the Lord. As a bishop should be (1 Tim. 3:2), Fr. Ivan is apt to teach and his group took longest to ask questions and listen to instruction from the Holy Scripture.
In the evening, Igor Pokormyakho and the praise group from the Congregation in Olonets, performed spiritual songs. Those who wanted to make a private confession and hear the absolution, pray for healing and receive an anointing, could come up to the altar where the clergymen and Christ Himself were waiting for them.
During the tea and coffee breaks, the believers visited with their brothers and sisters in Christ and could meet in person those whom they might have known only online before. It is our hope that everybody spent the time in joy and peace.
Many sincere thanks to all of the organizers, ministers, the people who prepared the food and took care of their neighbor in every way! Thanks be to God!
Source and photo gallery (many many photos!)
Photo credits: Nikolai Rappu, Deacon Anton Rudoi