Peace to you, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Rejoice with us! Today in the Parish of Saint Andrew in Novosibirsk Deacon Vitaly Smirnov was ordained into the priesthood. This is a real Christmas gift from God to the Lutherans in Siberia.
“The Bishop and the assistants lay their right hands on his head, and the Bishop says: By virtue of the authority given to me, I, with my brothers in the ministry, intrust you, according to the apostolic tradition, through the laying of our hands, the sacred ministry of the Word and sacraments, and define and ordain you as a priest of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the name of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit! May the Lord bless you, and make rich fruit in the vineyard of the Lord, and let this fruit be to the everlasting life. Amen.” (Quotation from the Rite of Ordination).
Please pray for Rev. Vitaly Smirnov and for other Lutheran clergymen in Siberia.
“Faith and hope”
Please see attached photos.
P.S. And… in our “Faith and hope” archive we have a “Newsletter” from the year 2014 about the same man:
Peace to you dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Recently our Bishop Vsevolod ordained Mr. Vitaly Smirnov as deacon for the parish of Saint Andrew in Novosibirsk. We asked several people in the parish what they think about it.
Pastor Alexey Streltsov, rector of Lutheran Theological Seminary (Novosibirsk): I remember Vitaly as a young student with acute interest in theology. He came to the Lutheran faith from Protestant background. So during his first year of study we jokingly called him among ourselves “Vitaly the Calvinist.” He knew Calvin’s Institutes quite well and wanted to compare reformed points with what he heard in our classroom. All in all it made him a very good and committed Lutheran student of theology: he got to know really well the treasures of the Gospel as they were presented in the Scripture and the Lutheran confessions. Vitaly stroke me as a man with utmost integrity. He had some difficult time with his disease, but his condition now allows him to serve in the Church. I am very glad that Vitaly has been ordained a deacon: ministry in the church is a logical result of the seminary studies. Vitaly still has a couple of courses left at the seminary, but it is a technical matter now. I am sure his work in our parish will be the real blessing for the Church.
Mrs. Nina Kasyanova, nurse: I think, Vitaly will be very good deacon, very good Church minister. I know him for long time. Not like some of former seminarians, he missed matins and vespers very rarely. He is the man of duty; he always does what he promises. He helps parishioners, cleans the church building, he does the work at the churchyard. Thus, he does the work that many people prefer to avoid. He has some health issues. Somebody else would say: “I should take care of myself, let others do the work.” But Vitaly didn’t make health the most important thing in his life. Ministry is more important for him. I saw him speaking to unbelievers. He never presses people, but at the same time he is very persuasive. I think it helps someone to come to the Church.
Ms. Natalia Sheludiakova, church organist: Deacon Vitaly has “speaking” last name, Smirnov. In Russian it is consonant with “smirny”, that is “humble” or “meek”. May it be a God’s providence? Saint Paul admonishes: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” [Eph. 4:1-2]. All these qualities Deacon Vitaly has. Sometimes it seems to me that if he would have three or four cheeks, instead of two, he would turn all of them to those, who smite him. I hope Vitaly will serve for long time in our Church. We always need people who reveal in themselves the image of Christ, humble Lamb of God.
Mr. Ruslan Zinnurov, seminary student: I know Vitaly for some years, and it always was a pleasure to communicate with him personally and in the ministry, when we both were sub-deacons (readers) in our parish. Especially I admire his good Scripture knowledge, his willingness to help people, and that he is very good father to his children. I believe, it “guarantees” that he will be good spiritual father for our parishioners. Thanks be to God, that He raises new ministers for our Church. I pray that Vitaly will be given with the pastoral office.
Bishop Vsevolod said: I remember a long time ago my Archbishop Jaan Kiivit said once, that the biggest problem of the Church is that there are people who are serving there, although they must not serve. It sounded a bit disappointedly, but that is why it is so important for the Church to keep the tradition to ordain a candidate first into the deaconate, and after he serves for few years, then the Church decides if he is worthy to be ordained into the priesthood. Because for the Church the priesthood is very serious matter, and she should always be attentive to those who enter into the holy ministry.
For me it is a great joy that Vitaly became our deacon. Because sometimes it seems that nowadays it is not easy to find young people, who are desire faithfully to serve God and His holy Church. But Vitaly is one of most faithful and pious Christians I know. I know him for many years. So I would like to wish him to keep “the gift of God that is within him through the laying on of my hands” [see 1Tim. 2:6] and to become a priest in few years.
Please pray for our newly ordained deacon Vitaly and for all the Siberian clergy.