Peace to you dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the village of Oravka in the Chany district (280 miles from Novosibirsk), a symbolic stone of the future Lutheran church was consecrated.
In 1894, the first settlers from Estonia arrived into this place on the shore of a lake. That time it was wilderness, and the lake dried up since then. Twenty five Estonian peasants voluntarily came to Siberia in search of a better life. A freight train took them along the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Chany station. From there the settlers walked 20 miles north and named their future village Oravaküla (Squirrel village), because that was the name of the village in Estonia from where they came from. Step by step, this name, which was difficult for Russian pronunciation, was transformed into a more easily pronounced “Oravka.”
The new Siberians brought their language and their Lutheran faith with them. They built a small chapel. There was no formal parish in Oravka, so the priest came to celebrate Mass only from time to time.
The village gradually became quite wealthy. But the Soviet time was not merciful to the Siberian Estonians. The chapel was destroyed. The peasants’ property was totally confiscated, they were forced to join the kolkhoz (collective farm), which finally fell into decay.
But people kept their language and their faith for a long time.
Alas, now there are not many inhabitants in the village, but Lutheran priests visit them several times a year. And recently, a project to restore the Lutheran chapel has appeared. The district authorities actively support this project. The villagers gathered for a general meeting and jointly approved the construction of the Lutheran building.
This building will be an excellent opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. Here people will find salvation through the means of grace given by God. Here adults and children will be baptized, and will receive the salvific Body and Blood of Christ.
It will be also the cultural center for the village and nearest settlements. We plan to invite musicians and artists, arrange lectures and exhibitions.
The church building will be, as it is commonly called, “people’s construction”: it will be constructed on voluntary donations.
During the consecration of the symbolic stone, in accordance to the rite, the text from the First Epistle to the Corinthians (3:9-11) was read:
For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.
Then the consecration prayer sounded:
Priest: Almighty God, Merciful Father, You created everything through Your Son and made Him the solid foundation of Your Kingdom. We beg You: sanctify this construction and bless us so that we can complete the work that we are starting today for the sake of Your glory and the benefit of Your people. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We hope this year we will be able to fill the basement of the future church building. Please pray for a successful construction and that all the necessary funds are found.
“Faith and hope”