Bringing Moscow Traffic to a Standstill
Advisory Council of Protestant Leaders celebrates Christian unity
M o s c o w -- “One snowflake cannot make much difference. But a billion snowflakes can bring Moscow traffic to a halt.” That was one statement made by Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of California´s 22.000-member “Saddleback Community Church”, via telephone link with an assembly convened by the “Advisory Council of Leaders of the Protestant Churches of Russia” on 12 March. The event was held at Moscow headquarters of the “Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists” (RUECB). Unity was the evening´s primary topic, dedicated above all to pastors´ wives. Accord within families and between denominations were two levels of unity stressed at the event attended by 50 Protestant leaders and their spouses.
Warren, a Southern Baptist, continued: “We must work together. We can only do great things together. The longer I am in ministry, the more I learn to love other churches and not just my own. I encourage you to love each others as brothers and sisters in Christ, for we are all members of one team.” He also stressed the need to learn: “All leaders are learners. The moment we stop learning, we are no longer leaders.”
Earlier in the evening and unbeknownst to Warren, a representative of the Advisory Council had spoken in similar terms: “Despite our theological differences and past squabbles, we truly are the singular evangelical family of Russia! Together we are jointly fulfilling God´s will for our society. We love and honour all of you.” Present besides Baptists were Lutherans, Presbyterians, Adventists, Pentecostals and Charismatics.
Kay Warren, the wife of Rick Warren, was physically present at the event along with a three-member team from Saddleback. She pointed to a third level of required Christian unity: body and spirit. She condemned the bygone North American controversy between Christians who wanted either to evangelise or to engage in social ministry. “We are not just souls and not just bodies. Both matter. We must also care about the bodies that our souls live in.”
The Baptist Saddleback team had come to Russia for a second time to support the work Russian church initiatives struggling against the Aids pandemic. The Aids Summit at Saddleback in Lake Forest/California last November had attracted 3.000 attendees including representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. Kay Warren hopes joint humanitarian work on Aids could be a possible bridge between Protestants and the Orthodox in Russia.
Kay Warren reported that hardcover English-language sales on her husband´s book, “The Purpose-Driven Life”, have topped 30 million. This makes it – after the Bible – the most-often sold English-language book in human history. The book has also been published in Russian. Rick Warren is scheduled to visit Russia for the first time during 2009.
Dr. William Yoder
Department for External Church Relations, RUECB
Moscow, 13 March 2008
A release of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. It is informational in character and
does not express a sole, official position of RUECB-leadership. May be published freely. Release #08-10, 440 words.