A New Bishop Electus for an Old Organization
May 29 - 31, 2015 -
by the E.E.L.K. Chicago First Congregation (E.E.L.K. Chicago Esimene Kogudus),
was my first visit to the Chicago Estonian House.
Nestled amongst tall trees in the Riverwoods suburb
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.”
Pastor Gilda Karu presents Lennart Meri's film.
formal portion of the Synod meetings began on Saturday.
In order to understand the significance of this
year’s meetings, a little background to refresh your
memory. As you
might recall, the
effort to reunite the churches was led by the former
E.E.L.K. Archbishop, Andres Taul. It resulted in a vote
and the signing of an “Visible Unity Confirmation
Contract” by the then E.E.L.K. Archbishop Andres Taul
and the then EELK Archbishop Andres Põder in
however, came from 13 congregations.
Pastor Thomas Vaga of The
a Synod meeting in April of 2013, the Chairman of the
a leadership position would fall upon the shoulders of the
oldest serving minister from the date of his ordination
which in this case would have been the minister for the
November of 2013 a meeting representing nine League
congregations resulted in the signing of a decision to
continue the existence and charitable status of the E.E.L.K. (Eesti Evangeeliumi Luteri Usu Kirik) by registering it in
the State of
Matti Jaanimägi gives a synopsis of his E.E.L.K. Chicago church activities. Photo: TR
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.
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
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).
Synod ended on May 31st with a church service
held at the
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. (TR)
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.
Bishop electus Thomas Vaga preaching at the Sunday church
Attending the Sinod meetings were -
To view more photos from the Synod meetings please visit the Photo Gallery.
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