Rev. Artis Petersons’ church faces many challenges
by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Rev. Artis Petersons has degrees in aviation engineering and information technology, but God call him to the pastorate.
After graduating from Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Petersburg, Russia and the Catholic St. Thomas Institute, he was ordained in 2018 and now serves as a minister with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of European Russia (ELCER), a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partner church.
He is one of 14 International Peacemakers to be hosted by the Presbyterian Peacemaking program. This fall the Peacemakers will travel throughout the country speaking to congregations, mid-councils and educational institutions with the goal of helpingTheir visits broaden our sense of God’s inclusive family and help equip us to build a culture of peace and nonviolence for all God’s children.Their visits broaden our sense of God’s inclusive family and help equip us to build a culture of peace and nonviolence for all God’s children.Their visits broaden our sense of God’s inclusive family and help equip us to build a culture of peace and nonviolence for all God’s children. those in the U.S. to better understand peace and justice around the world and to inspire new ministries. He still has a few openings in his schedule available.
Petersons was born in Daugavpils, Latvia to a Latvian father and a Russian-German mother, two groups of people that have known persecution under the former Soviet Union. He says Latvians today feel ill at ease on the border of Russia. Theirs is a minority church with historical connections across the former Soviet Union. Church leaders say they are challenged by the political situation in the region.
Historically this church is a German church in Russia. In 1941, as the armies of Adolf Hitler invaded, the Russian-Germans who had lived in Russia (the Volga Region, the Black Sea Region and Crimea) for 250 years were exiled to Siberia, the far north and the Far East, often to labor camps. Their pastors were executed, and they survived as brethren churches.
They have been working for the last 30 years to rebuild their congregations and church leadership as a Russian church, rather than a German church. When Crimea was annexed by Russia, ELCER became responsible for the Lutheran churches there and has worked to help them find their identity, whether Russian or Ukrainian.
Petersons said another of the church’s major challenges is the sometimes vast distances between congregations in a very large country. The church organizes pastoral conferences to help alleviate the problem.
In his own congregation in Moscow, Petersons said that many elderly people want to attend services but have no transportation. He has devised several strategies to help them, including sometimes driving to pick them up himself.
The Moscow Cathedral, where he pastors, is the largest congregation in Russia with an active membership.
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Categories: Peace & Justice
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Ministries: Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, Compassion, Peace and Justice