Lutheran Bishop of Belarus: There Is Nothing More Terrible than Liberalism
Lutheranism came to Belarus in the days of Marthin Luther but unlike in Northern Europe it did not manage to become the nagional religion due to the different causes. Besides, the main confession among the protestants of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16th century became Calvinism.
How is Lutheranism represented in modern Belarus? What are its prospects? KRYNITSA.INFO has discussed it with Uladzimir Meierson, the Bishop of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Belarus. The talk took place at the Peter and Paul religious community in Babruysk, where the hierarch has a ministry.
KRYNITSA.INFO: What is the state of IELCB today? How many congregations, believers do you have?
Meierson: I am not able to tell the exact number of believers, but we have 11 communities: in Vorsha, Polatsk, Hrodna, Khoyniki, Dubrovitsa, Homel, Hlusk, Klichau, Babruysk and 2 in Vitiebsk. The Reformation Church is an old churuch here, it was here even before Russia invaded Belarus. Skaryna was a Reformator as well. During his persecution he was saved by Luther.
But the Lutheran Church never enjoyed a great popularity in Belarus. Its believers were mainly the Latvians and Germans living in Belarus. During the Soviet period everything was almost destroyed. There was only one active temple in Hrodna, but that community does not belong to us: the Lutheran Church is in chaos like everything nowadays. The Liberalsm came and the Evangelical Church in Germany – the Germany official Church – accepted the woman priesthood. Even the homosexuals are treated with benevolence. Our Church is strictly confessional and we do not accept such perversions.
We began our restoration on the basis of German communities. At first we were Russian Germans, then we became Soviet Germans and now we are Belarusian Germans. My ancestors were Kurland Germans. Our diaspore was quite large, but today there are only several communities in Babruysk, Lida, Hrodna, Khoyniki and Homel and only couple of Germans in Minsk – many of us fled to the West.
On that basis a Lutheran Community was Had been created, then the Evangelical Lutheran Church, but was destroyed by the radical elements and restorated in 2004. Today our partners are the IELC of German and the Church of Lithuania. These churches Had not been influenced by the modern trends.
The Babruys community is small and consists of 25 people, mainly women and the elderly. The dominant Church in Belarus is the Orthodox one and people will more probably go to the Orthodox Church because they were born among the Orthodox. You must learn to become a Lutheran.
We are involved in the missionary activities, we are helping the hospitals, give clothes to the poor. But our main activity is service to God. We serve a Mass every Sunday.
KRYNITSA.INFO: Will it be correct to say that IELCB is a German Church?
Meiers0n: Of course not, nobody asks the nationality of the parishioners. We have German Communities in the Churche, but these are different things.
KRYNITSA.INFO: Is the head of the Church of Lithuania the head of IELCB?
Meierson: We have a cooperation treaty, according to which I am responsible for the administrative part of our union, and he is for the spiritual part, because he has a higher theological education. But he is not our leader. It is only a union, a distribution of roles treaty. We are the parts of the unite ecumenical territory like in the times of the Great Duchy of Lithuania.
KRYNITSA.INFO: Which non-Evangelical churches do you cooperate with in Belarus?
Meierson: We have good relations with the Orthodox Church and with Pentecostals. We have normal relations with Catholic community, but there are some difficulties due to the history of the Lutheranism.
How do you evaluate the prospects of Lutheranism in Belarus?
Meierson: I think they are not very good. The youth go to church only because of tradition, The spiritual illiteracy is absolute. To become anybody, you must study.
KRYNITSA.INFO: What are your views on the prospects of Christianity at large?
Meierson: Today the Christianity is strong. The Orthodox Church exists without any sectarianism. The Catholic Church is also in a quite good state, but not without any jumble.
People are so interested with libealism! The wedding of Elton John and his boyfriend is advertised worldwide, despite the fact that some years ago it was a crime.
Even the Belarusian television propagates banditism and distrust to the police. The youth is not occupied with anything useful. The state mus gather its senses. The human conciousness is easy to corrupt but hard to restore.
We help as we can, we pray. The outcome is unpredictable: what is impossible today will be posiible tomorrow.
We have no interconfessional discord, the Interconfessional Council does his work well.
Without God we will be at the dead-end, it is obvious to everybody. But people have false concepts of God. They think he is an old man who rules everything. But he is the Superior Love that created everything, including the Law. And the Judgement of God is not a guy with a whip. It is like electricity: if you put your fingers in a socket you will be electrocutted. The same rule applies here. You will be judged by your deeds.
Pictures by Nadzeya Hacak
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