On the 1st of August, the bishop of GELCU Pavlo Shvarts visited the German Evangelical-Lutheran congregation of Odesa to conduct the church service with the Holy Communion and preside over the extraordinary meeting, called due to a crisis in the congregation.
Since the church in Odesa is being renovated, the service was held in the hall of the Pastor’s house, where the congregation came together during reconstruction of their church building. “Pearls of Odesa” children’s choir (conductor and artistic director – Larisa Harbuz) performed for the believers during the church service and sang three beautiful pieces in Latin.
Pavlo Shvarts read a sermon on the Gospel of Matthew 7:24-27. “Christianity is not a theory to look at and evaluate. Before anything else, Christianity is about practice. You need to delve into it and become a part of it to see a result. And the good news for all is that it can never be too late to make a change. Not only it is never too late to receive God’s grace for salvation, but also to receive strength for becoming a new person and even a new community” – said the bishop to encourage congregants to implement principles of Christian faith.
After the service, an extraordinary general meeting of the congregation in Odesa took place. 39 out of 71 members were present, including those Lutherans in Odesa, who were unlawfully deprived of their right to vote in 2015. Their voting right was restored to them, and the meeting was recognized legitimate. Pavlo Shvarts gave a report on the current situation in GELCU, the congregation in Odesa and the church building. The latter is in poor condition and requires reconstruction. Given that hundreds of thousands of hryvnas were unlawfully moved from GELCU budget, it is now in dire financial straits. A part of congregation is still under influence of the former head of GELCU Episcopate Sergey Maschevskiy and gathers on the church stairs for a service held by him. Toward the end the bishop expounded on his vision of the way to solve the conflict and future relationship between the congregation and Episcopate.
The meeting added to the number in the Council of congregation by electing three new members – Yuriy Baidelshpakher, Veronika Struk and Raisa Reikh. Newly elected members are to help restore efficiency of this element and establish connection with other members. The meeting also elected a renewed revision commission and confirmed Oleksandr Zharun for a deacon’s office in the congregation in Odesa.