German Lutheran Church of Ukraine has a new leader
On November 30, the German Evangelical Lutheran Churches of Ukraine installed the Bishop of GELCU, Pavlo Schwartz. According to the Lutheran creed, the office of Bishop is not the highest degree of the priesthood, but a special calling. Therefore, Lutherans solemnly celebrate the actual installation of a new leader.
The solemn service, the blessing of the new Bishop and celebration took place in the Church of St. Catherine of the Lutheran community of Kyiv, according to a RISU reporter.
Pavlo Schwartz, as the website of the GELCU reports, was granted the blessing, the rights and the ministry of the Bishop from the President of the Bishops ' Council of the Union of Lutheran Churches as the Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Siberia, the Urals and the Far East Alexander Chairman. He was assisted by Jerzy Samec, Bishop of the Evangelical Augsburg Church in the Republic of Poland, Markus Schoch, Bishop of ELC in Georgia, Peter Condor, Bishop of ELC in Hungary, Alfred Eichholz, Bishop of ELC in Kyrgyzstan, and Jan Hrobon, Bishop of the Evangelical Church of Augsburg in Slovakia.
In his speech, Bishop Pavlo Schwartz stressed taking into account the problematic situations that have taken place in GELCU in recent years, that the Church is not an organization of the Bishop, but a community whose members together are the Body of Christ.
"It is a misconception that a handful of priests will save the Church," the Bishop said to those present at the celebrations of the parishioners of St. Catherine's Church and numerous guests. "Teamwork is a new idea both for our Church and for the whole society. And that's what we need now. None of the bishops is Christ, a perfect man, always has a good mood, always will support and help. The Bishop is always a man, an ordinary sinner, who, like all believers, needs God's grace, and maybe more, because his temptations to power and money are great. The Bishop himself is a sheep, and sometimes a ram, who leads his flock the wrong way. He needs the support of the priesthood and the laity."
Pavlo Schwartz also reminded that in the center of the life of both the Bishop and all believers should be Christ. "Service to the needy, social activities, concerts – all this is secondary, and the main thing is God," the Bishop stressed.
As reported, on October 9, at the Cathedral of the Church in Odessa, a 36-year-old pastor of the German Evangelical Lutheran community, Pavlo Schwartz was elected the Episcopal visitor of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine for one year. This happened after representatives of the majority of the communities uttered no-confidence in the previous Bishop of GELCU, Serge Maszewski, and ended his powers. On November 30, in the Church of St. Catherine in the capital of Ukraine, Pavlo Schwartz became a full Bishop of GELCU.
"We hope that this event marks a new stage in the development of the community of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine, one of the leading Churches of our country, for which we are worried," said Yuriy Reshetnikov, Deputy Chairman of the Public Council for Cooperation with Churches and Religious Organizations under the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. "This event should turn the page of certain problematic moments that occur in the history of any Church and will lead to stabilization of the situation. The Church has finally received its legitimate leader, his legitimacy confirmed by the leaders of almost all European German Lutheran communities."
"It would seem that this event is an internal affair of the Lutheran Church," the head of The Ukrainian reformed society, Oleksandr Pavlyuk, told to RISU. "However, its position in relation to the events in the country, as well as in interfaith relations and contacts with the authorities of the country depends on who heads the Church. Pavlo Schwartz is a very successful candidate, as he is an educated, energetic and open person who will perform his ministry well."
The solemn service in honor of the installation of the Bishop was attended by representatives of the largest Lutheran Churches in Europe, in particular, General Secretary of the community of Evangelical Churches of Europe, Mario Fischer, European Secretary of the World Lutheran Federation Ireneusz Lukasz, senior church adviser of the German National Committee of the World Lutheran Federation, Norbert Deneke and many others.
The Church and the new Bishop were congratulated by the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Anka Feldhusen, the Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia, Juris Poikans, representatives of other States and Christian denominations of Ukraine.