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Evangelical Lutheran Church Eesti Synod
2018 Ocean Grove, NJ
2018 - Airi Vaga
The independent Estonian Ev. Lutheran Church has ten congregations, nine in the United States and one in Canada who decided not to be united with the Estonian Lutheran Church in Estonia but still be in a brotherly relationship with the Lutheran church in Estonia and her pastors and church members. These ten congregations hold yearly synod meetings which are organized in turn where the congregations are located.
This year’s, 2018, synod was organized by Lakewood Estonian Lutheran Church. The congregation decided to have it in the lovely, small NJ beach town of Ocean Grove which was founded by Methodist Church members at the end of 19th century. During the first years the meetings were held in tents. Now the town has lovely big houses, Bed and Breakfast hotels and a big meeting hall, Big Auditorium, which seats around 2000 people.
This year’s synod took place in the beautiful and comfortable Bellevue Stradford Inn, only a few steps from the beach boardwalk. All the ten congregations participated with representatives and by proxies.
As expected there are fewer and fewer church members who speak and understand Estonian. Many have, however, stayed faithful to their parents’ and grandparents’ congregations. Pastor Thomas Vaga has started holding services in Estonian and in English. The hymns are selected from two hymn books, Estonian and English Lutheran ones. The liturgy and sermon are in both languages as well. But our Estonian church is loved by all Estonians especially in Lakewood NJ where the church was built by Estonians through voluntary work and donations.
During the synod there were yearly reports by congregations. There were also three lectures: Pastor William Ilves introduced the synod to the 5th and 6th Gospel in the Bible. Pastor Gilda Karu introduced us to a comfort dog mission. She is actively working with a trained mission dog, JoJo from Grace Lutheran Church in Arlington IL. These mission dogs are used to make contact and comfort people in hospitals and nursing homes. The mission has proved to be very successful because many people relate easier to pets than to people. This opens a wonderful possibility to evangelize and speak about Jesus to people who need a friendly Christian contact. JoJo has her own web page “JoJoComfortDog”.
The Estonian Ev. Lutheran Church has her own webpage “eelk-kirik.com” with individual webpages for all ten congregations. The webmaster is Tiiu Roiser who lives in Toronto. She also filmed the church service on Sunday, the last day of the synod. The service could be seen on You Tube under the name “E.E.L.K. sinodi 2018 jumalateenistus”. The service is in English and Estonian. The sermon was given by Pastor Enn Auksmann. Please go to You Tube to listen to his excellent sermon in Estonian and English.
Synod attendees on the stairs of the Bellevue Stradford Inn. Front left: Pastors Markus Vaga (Seabrook congregation pastor), Pastor William Ilves (Schenectady congregation), Bishop electus Thomas Vaga and Pastor Enn Auksmann (Los Angeles congregation). Second row from the left: Dagmar Pöntiskoski (Lakewood congregation), Malle Väärsi (Bergen County), Airi Vaga (Lakewood and NY Pauluse), Ken Ling (Lakewood Chairman), Eena Mai Franz (NY Pauluse), Harri Virunurm (Seabrook). Third and fourth rows from the left: Gilda Karu (Chicago), Ingrid Neel (Lakewood), Ingrid Kangur (Lakewood), Rein Uibopuu (NY Pauluse), Kalju Ets (E.E.L.K. deacon), Riina Klaas (Toronto Vana Andres), Sven Roosild (NY Pauluse), Eha McDonnell (NY Pauluse), Ilmar Lepik (Toronto Vana Andres) Foto: Tiiu Roiser
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