In October, Baroque Plus, a Ukrainian musical group that includes members of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC), traveled to Germany to present concerts at several Evangelical Lutheran Free Church (ELFK) congregations. These concerts were a thank you for the German church’s support to Ukrainian refugees who fled the country to escape the war with Russia. These concerts not only showed the ULC’s gratitude for that aid but also offered an opportunity to assimilate the refugees more fully into the German Lutheran churches.
Three sister church bodies—the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Germany, and WELS—worked together to plan the trip. Three ELFK congregations hosted the special worship services that included music from Baroque Plus, other German and Ukrainian hymns, gospel readings, devotions, and prayer.
“The services were edifying and beautiful,” says Rev. Roger Neumann, WELS’ liaison to the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. “Translators made it possible that three languages were used during the service: Ukrainian, German, and English. Although, for the Lord’s Prayer, all three languages were spoken at the same time, which was quite impressive.”
Fellowship times before, during, and after the services provided opportunities for members from the Ukrainian Church and German church to interact. “There was truly a unique bond of fellowship at each church, which flowed from a sense of empathy, Christian love and concern, and the powerful bond of unity that believers have in Christ. Strangers quickly became friends,” says Neumann. “We pray that those who attended the service, Ukrainian and German visitors who have no church home, will come again to learn more about Jesus and what he has done for them and for all people.”
Hanna Bulu, the leader of Baroque Plus and a member at Resurrection, Kiev, Ukraine, appreciated the opportunity to come to Germany. “After traveling thousands of kilometers from our native home, we met good friends in Germany—and also a long-forgotten feeling of peace and quiet. Such concerts are like bridges between churches, between hearts, between children of God, who are one in Christ.”
WELS, the ULC, and the ELFK are all part of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC), a group of 34 Lutheran church bodies from around the world committed to the teachings of the Lutheran Church found in the Book of Concord. This fellowship of believers offers support in faith and doctrine. “This was a blessing, given to us by our Lord, that flows from the unity of believers from around the world who form the CELC,” says Neumann. “The people from Ukraine who were there that week, as well as people from the various church bodies that form the CELC, can better understand that they are never alone.”
Read more thoughts about this trip from ELFK President Rev. Michael Herbst at wels.net/familyofbelievers.