Russian Baptists Reunite – in California
Yuri Sipko pays the Slavic Diaspora a visit
M o s c o w – The Russian and Ukrainian Baptists of North America are doing well. That was the conclusion of Yuri Sipko (Moscow), President of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (RUECB), following his fifth visit to the state of California. In Moscow he stated: “The refugee syndrome has been overcome; nostalgia for the home turf has disappeared. They are no longer asking: Who are we, where are we from, and why are we here.” From 25 to 27 October Sipko had taken part in festivities marking the 80th anniversary of the “Pacific Coast Slavic Baptist Association“ in West Sacramento.
In Moscow, Sipko continued: “The brothers and sisters there are secure regarding their desires and values. They are planning to expand their work.” No less than 300.000 Slavic emigrants reside in the vicinity of Sacramento. Twenty-six congregations form this Baptist association; three more are in planning or were recently founded. “I’m not jealous,” assured Pastor Sipko. “I’m glad in human terms that my brothers and sisters are managing well. All are taken care of – including the old and the young.”
Regarding past tribulations the pastor stated: “Of course, grief remains regarding the land of their childhood. Long years of repression and religious persecution, the terror that lasted for generations, have left their mark. But they still love their country.” Sipco’s primary concern for the future involves the consequences of consumption – on both continents. “Material blessings do not increase our passion for serving God. But also in Russia, moral values are in transition because of material gains.”
Yet the joy of reunion dominated events in West Sacramento. “Almost all of our hosts came from the Soviet Union. We had served together until emigration, most of us knew each other.” The Sipkos are among the multitude of Baptist families divided since Perestroika. Yuri Sipko’s brother, Alexander, left Russia 14 years ago and is today President of the 11-member „Northwest Association of Slavic Baptist Churches“ and pastor of a congregation in Spokane/Washington. Other guests from Europe included Waldemar Zorn from the “Light in the East” mission located near Stuttgart, Germany.
Dr. William Yoder
Department for External Church Relations, RUECB
Moscow, 7 November 2007
A press release of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. May be published freely. Release #07-43, 343 words.