A New Bishop Electus for an Old Organization
May 29-31, 2015 Chicago - Tiiu Roiser
Hosted by the E.E.L.K. Chicago First Congregation (E.E.L.K. Chicago Esimene Kogudus), the Evangelical Lutheran Church Eesti Synod (Eesti Evangeeliumi Luteri Usu Kirik – E.E.L.K.) held its Synod meeting on May 29-31 in Chicago.
This was my first visit to the Chicago Estonian House. Nestled amongst tall trees in the Riverwoods suburb of Chicago, there is a quiet serenity here that is palpable.
Attendees arrived on the 29th and met at the Chicago Estonian House for an exhibit and film presentation of Lennart Meri’s documentary “The Winds of the Milky Way (1977)” on loan from the Permanent Estonian Mission to the United Nations led by Estonian Ambassador to the united Nations Margus Kolga. The former Estonian head of state was fascinated by the experiences of small nations in keeping their cultures alive in spite of a colonizer speaking a foreign tongue. A line from his film resonated with me: “Our trees live longer than our people, but our people will exist longer than the forest.”
Above: Matti Jaanimägi gives a synopsis of his E.E.L.K. Chicago church activities.
At the May 2015 Synod meeting, under discussion were E.E.L.K. congregation internal and external relationships, the development of unity, registration with the US government office of taxation IRS, contact with the EELK and its new Archbishop in Estonia, financial reports and budget, financial bequest for the education of new pastors and assistant pastors, congregation member reports, etc.
Left: Valter Must discusses the ELCES Bylaws. To his left are Deacon Pastor Gilda Karu, Chairman of the meeting Heino Nurmberg from Los Angeles and recording secretary Airi Vaga.
Discussions also included the needs and opportunities to update the ELCES (E.E.L.K.) Bylaws. The original Estonian version, as well as its English translation, is being reviewed to consider opportunities to provide each congregation with more self-governance and to reduce the Bishop’s administrative rule.
Having all congregations of one mind concerning the direction of the ELCES (E.E.L.K.), Thomas Vaga was nominated and unanimously duly elected to be the new Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Eesti Synod (Eesti Evangeeliumi Luteriusu Kirik).
The Synod ended on May 31st with a church service held at the Chicago Estonian House officiated by the new Bishop electus Thomas Vaga and Deacon Pastor Gilda Karu.
As an analogy to Lennart Meri’s comment about our people existing longer than the forest, my thinking is that although our church buildings will live longer than the people of our congregations, the good works, deeds and accomplishments done today in touching the spirits and lives in church fellowship spreading the Word of God, will carry into future generations and exist carrying on longer than today’s buildings. My wish for Bishop electus Thomas Vaga is that he have many years of good work ahead in spreading the Word and to restoring and building relationships. May God use and guide him as He sees best so that Bishop Vaga may proclaim the Word of God in all places He causes his feet to tread.
Right: Bishop electus Thomas Vaga preaching at the Sunday church service. Photo: Dagmar Pöntiskoski.
Attending the Sinod meetings were - 1st row from the left: Airi Vaga, Kuno Lill, Valter Must, Heino Nurmberg, Thomas Vaga, Gilda Karu.
2nd row: Ingrid Neel, Eve Rebassoo, Harri Virunurm, Ilvi Must, Sven Roosild, Eena-Mai Franz, Matti Jaanimägi, Dagmar Pöntiskoski, Aida Arita, Riina Klaas and Malle Väärsi. Photo: Dagmar Pöntiskoski.
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