The Save the Seminary Campaign, a ministry of the Siberian Lutheran Mission Society (SLMS), has set a fundraising goal of $7 million by 2023. The seminary in Novosibirsk, Siberia, is moving toward financial self-sufficiency as it continues to educate, serve, and minister to the people of Eurasia. The SLMS is working wholeheartedly toward the goal of a perpetual presence in the greater region, an area that was left void of all Lutheran presence after fifty years of communist rule.
The SLMS hosted a reception in January to inform potential donors about the five-year fundraising campaign. The Society was honored to host guest speakers Rev. Vsevolod Lytkin, Bishop, Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Rev. Alexey Streltsov, Rector, Novosibirsk Lutheran Theological Seminary. Rev. Lytkin originally requested for the Seminary in Novosibirsk to be opened and Rev. Streltsov was instrumental in founding it. Each discussed the progress of the Lutheran Church in Siberia and the unabating need for pastoral education within the region.
According to Rev. Streltsov, “The need for well-educated pastors is ever growing, because today’s parishioners get bombarded with all kinds of heterodox and non-Christian doctrines and worldviews. They are looking for the guidance to work through these things. It simply won’t do to give the standard textbook answers to the questions of today.”
The seminary in Novosibirsk is one of only two that remain in the post-Soviet Russian speaking world. The seminary has proven vital to restoring the Lutheran Church in Russia. The seminary’s rigorous plan of study prepares students to bring pastoral care to communities throughout Siberia. The program currently supports 20 seminarians, six of which are full-time. Nearly 80 Lutheran pastors have graduated from the Siberian program. Their current and future work engages communities and ensures the longevity of Lutheranism in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The exemplary education of so many Christian shepherds is vital to the future of the Lutheran Church in Siberia, but it is not without cost. Tuition and other student expenses, which according to Russian law must be paid by the school, can reach $6,000 per year per seminarian. Most work outside of the seminary to support their families while studying full-time, a reality they carry with grace. The seminary in Novosibirsk also incurs expenses such as building and grounds maintenance, staff costs, and other incidentals.
“The seminary in Novosibirsk is a strong, independent institution,” says Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, Director of Seminary Fundraising for the SLMS. “It has a highly qualified administration and faculty capable of self-governance. The commitment, contributions, and overall effectiveness of those who teach and study at the seminary cannot be overstated.”
The Novosibirsk seminary project began in the late 1990s when a group of Russian seminarians traveled to Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to complete their pastoral studies. Those graduates returned to Siberia to re-establish the Lutheran Church in areas devastated by communism. Since the beginning, the seminary in Novosibirsk has been supported by the generosity of a private family foundation. It is now the strongest seminary in the region and conducts a rigorous program, serving Christ and preparing future pastors to shepherd the people of Siberia.
With the encouragement of LCMS President Matthew Harrison, the SLMS has accepted the challenge of establishing a fundraising campaign effort to “Save the Seminary.” The $7 million goal, when achieved, will allow for the creation of an endowment for the seminary in Novosibirsk, Siberia. The year 2023 represents the quarter-century mark for this ministry that began with a cohort of students in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The many pastors who have since answered the call to serve the Lutheran Church are living and working throughout Russia and the surrounding countries. Lutheranism is no longer absent in areas once ravaged by communism. There is still much work to do, and the time to strengthen the Church’s commitment to the region is now.
Learn more about the Save the Seminary Campaign and the campaign’s milestones at https://siberianlutheranmissions.org/videos/save-the-seminary/. An extensive history of the SLMS also can be found online at https://siberianlutheranmissions.org/. Please consider giving to the campaign as the SLMS works to ensure a future for the Lutheran Church in Russia.