Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Central Asia
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Central Asia|
|Logo of the ELCROS|
|Leader||The Most Rev August Genrikhovich Kruse|
|Geographical areas||Former Soviet Union|
|Branched from||Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and the Other States|
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Central Asia (Russian: Евангелическо-лютеранская церковь в России, Украине, в Казахстане и Средней Азии), also known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and the Other States (ELCROS), is a Lutheran denomination that itself comprises seven regional Lutheran denominations in Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan as well as individual congregations in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. Established in its current form in 1999, ELCROS currently has about 76,000 members in more than 400 congregations within its jurisdiction.
Lutheranism had established itself in the Teutonic states of the Baltics and Ingria in the early years of the Reformation. Ivan the Terrible invited German artisans and professionals to help modernize Russian institutions, bringing Lutherans into Russia proper.
Early history 
The first church consecrated for Lutheran use in Moscow, St. Michael's Church, was completed in 1576. By the end of the 17th century, German Lutherans were spread throughout Russia, primarily among the military garrisons.
As a result of the Great Northern War, the former Swedish provinces of Livonia and Estonia with their large Lutheran populations were ceded to Russia. To gain the support of the Baltic nobility, the Lutheran churches were granted freedom of dogma, liturgy and administration by Peter the Great. Catherine the Great's policy of populating frontier areas of the Russian Empire with immigrants further increased the number of German Lutherans in Russia.
Despite the de facto recognition of Lutheranism in Russia, it was still considered a foreign faith with restrictions on proseltytization placed to limit the expansion of the faith to non-Russian nationalities only, with secular oversight being placed under the Main Administration for Ecclesiastical Affairs of Foreign Faiths.
Official establishment 
In 1832, de jure recognition was granted to the Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia (ELCR) (German: Evangelisch Lutherische Kirche in Russland) was established uniting Lutheran and Reformed congregations in three administrative regions; Russia proper, Grand Duchy of Finland and the Kingdom of Poland with the Czar as the Supreme Bishop. The ELCR was granted the status of a State Church for minorities whose properties and leadership would be funded and salaried by the state.
In 1905, full religious freedom was granted with an Edict of toleration and Lutheran churches were finally allowed to conduct services and their liturgy in the Russian language. By 1914, the Lutheran church in Russia proper itself had grown to include 1,828 congregations comprising 3,660,000 members of various nationalities.
The First World War and the early Soviet era 
With Russia's joining of the First World War on the side of Triple Entente against the German Empire, a policy of mass deportation of the German minorities in Russia was implemented. As a significant number of Russia's Lutherans were German or German-speaking, this severely effected the Lutheran church.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the end of the First World War in 1918 also brought tremendous changes to the Lutheran church. The former Russian territories of Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland with large Lutheran populations gained independence. In December 1917, control of schools and seminaries were nationalized and by 1918, this extended to all properties of the church, including church buildings. By 1921, religious instruction to persons under the age of 18 was banned.
The deportation policies of the Tsarist era was continued in some areas encouraged by the participation of whole German-speaking communities on the side of the White Russians against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War.
In 1924, the remaining clergy of the ELCR met in a General Synod in Moscow to re-organise the church. The re-organised ELCR was put under the supervision of two elected bishops, Artur Malmgren of Leningrad and Theophil Meyer of Moscow. Despite the state approval of a new constitution for the Lutheran church in 1924 by the new Bolshevik government, the collectivization policies of Joseph Stalin in 1928 scattered the population and official anti-religion campaigns intensified in the 1930s under the authority of the 1929 Law on Religion resulting in the incarceration of pastors in deportation camps and in some cases, their executions.
In 1936, Bishop Malmgren had left Russia for Germany, and by 1937, the ELCR had ceased to exist as an organized body.
Second World War and the post war period 
The Second World War brought another upheaval to the Lutheran communities. Mass deportations of German from European Russia to Soviet Asia and Siberia occurred prior to the German invasion of Russia had the net result of decimating religious life among the German-speaking Lutherans as no religious services were allowed in the deportation regions. The only exception was a Lutheran church in Tselinograd that was established by Eugen Bachmann in 1957 and granted registration in 1957.
The remaining Lutherans survived the collapse of the ELCR by joining existing Brethren communities (German: Bruedergemeinden) in which leadership and pastoral care was given by laypeople. Such Brethren communities were heavily influenced by Pietism and have been in existence since the 19th century but have managed to survive the persecutions of the Soviet state due to its fluid structure. In 1955, three ELCR pastors who had survived the concentration camps and deportations visited the underground Brethren congregations in the deportation regions in attempts to regularize the administration of the churches but were in most cases, unsuccessful
The Soviet annexation of the Baltic states in 1944 also brought back a significant Lutheran population and the various Lutheran Churches that were established in these territories were allowed to function with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia registered in 1940 and the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1949 although they too were target of repression and controls.
It was only in the post-Stalin era in the 1960s that Lutheran congregations in the deportation areas were finally allowed to register with the first two being registered in Siberia in 1965. The Rev Harald Kalnins from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia Riga, sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation, was granted permission to visit them periodically from 1969.
Late Soviet and immediate post-Soviet era 
In 1980, Kalnins was appointed as the superintendent of the German Lutherans in Russia by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia and with the advent of Perestroika in the Soviet Union, officially installed as the Bishop in 1988 of the re-organised German Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Soviet Union with the blessings of the Lutheran Archbishop of Riga,. This allowed the re-organising of congregations and formal seminary training.
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the church became known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and the Other States and between 1992 to 1994, synods were organised in European Russia, Siberia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. In 1994, the first General Synod was held in St. Petersburg and Georg Kretschmar was elected to succeed Kalnins as bishop. At the second General Synod in 1999, the title of the Bishop was changed to Archbishop.
Contemporary developments 
With the passing of the 1997 Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations in Russia, the Church was again re-registered in 1999 as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Despite the German origin of the Lutheran church in Russia, the demographics have shifted to include an increasing number of other nationalities with reports of up to 30% of the members in Central Asia being made up of Russians. A new seminary was also established in 1997 in Novosaratovka near St. Petersburg.
Ecclesiastical authority is vested in the office of the Archbishop in the Church of Sts Peter and Paul, St. Petersburg. The Archbishop and the bishops of the regional Lutheran denominations within ELCROS form an Episcopal Council.
The main governing body of ELCROS is the General Synod which meets every five years while executive authority is vested with the Church Synod. The Church Synod is chaired by the General Consistory headed by the Archbishop and the Synod is further composed of two members from the Episcopal Council, and the Presidium of the General Synod.
The church is further divided into seven regional Lutheran denominations in Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan as well as individual congregations in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
Regional churches and congregations 
- Evangelical-Lutheran Church in European Russia
- Congregations in European Russia
- Evangelical-Lutheran Church of the Urals, Siberia and the Far East
- Congregations in Asian Russia
- German Evangelical-Lutheran Church in the Ukraine
- Congregations in Ukraine
- Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Kazakhstan
- Congregations in Kazakhstan
- Evangelical-Lutheran Church in the Kyrgyz Republic
- Congregations in Kyrgyzstan
- Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Uzbekistan
- Congregations in Uzbekistan
- Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Georgia
- Congregations in Georgia
- Union of Evangelical-Lutheran Church Congregations in Belorussia
- Congregations in Belarus
- Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Azerbaijan
- Congregations in Azerbaijan
- Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Dushanbe
Bishops and archbishops of ELCROS 
- Rt Rev Harald Kalnins
- Most Rev Dr Georg Kretschmar
- Title changed to Archbishop in 1999
- Most Rev Dr Edmund Ratz
- Most Rev August Genrikhovich Kruse
See also 
- Protestantism in Russia
- Christianity in Azerbaijan
- Christianity in Belarus
- Christianity in Georgia (country)
- Christianity in Kazakhstan
- Christianity in Kyrgyzstan
- Christianity in Tajikistan
- Protestantism in Turkmenistan
- Protestantism in Ukraine
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- Епископ Йозеф Барон (March 18, 2008). "Кризис и возрождение лютеранства. Некоторые замечания из новейшей истории нашего вероисповедания: феномен "Единой евангелическо-лютеранской церкви России"". Credo.ru (in Russian). Retrieved December 26, 2011.