One of the greatest needs in the ELCIR is trained workers. Our synod has contributed $170,000 to help build an Education Center and new church building in Petrozavodsk in the Republic of Karelia, which was completed in September, 2011. Other churches in our synod partnered to help build a small new church at Birsk in the Ural Deanery. Participants in a 2007 Mission Tour partnered with the Laestadian Finns of Finland to build a new church building in Läskelä. The Russian government is returning church buildings or land to Lutheran churches, but with the stipulation that they be rebuilt in a fixed period of time - there simply aren't resources to do that. A building is needed for a church to avoid being labeled a cult.