Russian Lutherans visit Oak Harbor Lutheran Church

Visiting Oak Harbor Lutheran Church May 12 and 13 will be Bishop Dietrich Brauer of ELKER (Evangelical Lutheran Church of European Russia) and Pastor Elena Bondarenko, administrator for foreign relations of ELKER, acting dean of Central Deanery of ELKER and coordinator of women’s ministry of ELKER. Even though he has a German name, the Bishop is the first Russian Bishop of ELKER.

The Northwest Washington Synod, ELCA, is partnered with ELKER, and invited Bishop Brauer and Pastor Bondarenko to the Synod Assembly in Everett May 18 and 19.  While here, they will visit some of the partnered congregations in Northwest Washington, including Oak Harbor Lutheran Church. Oak Harbor Lutheran has had a partnership with Evangelical Lutheran St. Katharina Church in Kazan, Russia since 2003.

On Sunday, May 13, the Bishop and Pastor Bondarenko will participate in both the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services. After the 10:30 a.m. service, there will be a forum in the church library, with the main topic, “Protestant Life in Russia today, especially with the Lutheran Community.”

There is quite a history of the Lutheran Church in Russia, going back to German immigrants to Russia as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, then the persecution by the Communist government resulting in the end of the official existence of the church, followed by Stalin’s decree deporting more than 2 million German Russians to Kazakstan, Siberia and Central Asia where 300,000 were shot or placed in forced labor camps. Only four of 204 Lutheran pastors survived.

Religious observances went underground. Under Gorbachev, religious liberty grew and after Glasnost in 1991 the Russian Lutheran Church was registered again, to start from scratch.

All are welcome. The church is located at 1253 NW Second Ave., across from the high school. Contact 679-1561, or


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