By Darya Shkurlyatyeva, ELCIR Press Service
“Christ Unites” was the motto of Idäntyönpäivät / Days of Eastern Work 2021. Almost 50 years ago, in the times of the Soviet Union, Finnish Christians agreed to get together once a year in order to pray about their eastern neighbors. Today, one can openly follow Christianity in Russia, Estonia, and Bulgaria, but there are still prayer needs. For example, this year they prayed for the successful completion of the church construction in Ulan-Ude, Murmansk, and Karatuzskoye, and for the students and faculty of the Theological Institute of The Church of Ingria. They sang and studied the Bible together, and shared news.
Last year, Days of Eastern Work were supposed to start on March 20 like this year, but the borders were closed because of the pandemic. In 2021, the restrictions did not prevent the prayer meeting from happening, albeit online, live-streaming from Ryttylä, Finland; Krushevo, Bulgaria; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Koltushi, and Vyborg, Russia.
The hosts of the webcast were Rev. Juha Saari and Rev. Markus Aitamäki, Finnish missionaries who have experience in serving Siberian congregation of The ELCIR.
Thanks to a team of translators, namely, Vera Mattelmäki, Tatiana Shadrunova, and Lyubov Zosina, the Finnish-speaking and the Russian-speaking participants could easily understand each other.
Vera Mattelmäki also acted as a cantor. Her heartfelt emotional singing helped create a very agreeable and trusting atmosphere.
Musical greetings from the Russian side came from Koltushi as members of different Church of Ingria congregations and students from the Theological Institute joined together in a voice ensemble and sang several songs from the earliest (“orange”) youth songbook which was used immediately after the church was reborn in the 1990’s. Rev. Hutter, Dean of the St. Petersburg Region, took the lead in singing and provided a guitar accompaniment.
Day 1 ended by showing the documentary video “Mission Work in Siberia 150 Years Ago” which Juha Saari had created in Finnish and Russian (click the link to watch the Russian version).
On Day 2, March 21, 2021, there were live webcasts of worship services from Koltushi and Ryttylä.
Photo credits: Bishop Ivan Laptev, Liliann Keskinen, and Irina Makkonen.
Original post in Russian & photoshttps://vk.com/infoinkeri?w=wall-97961705_17552