For the Joint Protection of Traditional Religious Minorities
M o s c o w – A new, joint Orthodox-Baptist communiqué lists “care for the national and traditional religious communities” among the values which all Russian Christians should support. The communiqué is a result of the second summit between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (RUECB) which took place in Moscow’s Orthodox Pilgrams’ Center on December 20. Baptists are among the country’s “traditional religious minorities”. Noting human rights, the document also calls for “resistance to crimes stemming from religious or nationalistic motives”. The churches should defend certain values against the decrees of “political correctness”. The paper mentions the era of mutual suffering during the communist period.
The talks, entitled “The Rightness of Traditional Christian Values and Freedom of Conscience”, were attended by 20 representatives from each of the churches. The delegations were headed by Cyrill, Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, and Yuri Sipko, the RUECB’s General-Secretary. Baptists holding lectures alongside Sipko were Michael Ivanov, Director of the Department for Theology and Chatechism, and the lawyer Anatoli Pchelintsev, Editor of the magazine “Religion and Law“.
The theologians were left virtually to themselves for the continuation of the discussions after lunch. Pastor Vitaly Vlasenko, new RUECB-Director for External Relations, reported that this second, cozier round was blessed with a healthy and light-hearted atmosphere. Metropolitan Kirill himself contributed strongly to the first-rate climate.
The paper ends with the recommendation that the dialogue between these churches continue. The third summit is already scheduled for February 2007. The first summit talks were held in April 2003.
Dr. William Yoder
Moscow, December 22, 2006
A press release of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. Free for publication. Release no. 07-1, 250 words