Central Offices Must Serve the Congregations
Baptist Union Council meets in Moscow
M o s c o w – Despite setbacks, things are moving forward. That was the verdict following sessions of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (RUECB) Council in Moscow on 20 and 21 March. It was decided at the meetings to boost the annual contribution of the congregations per member for the work of central offices threefold from 50 to 150 roubles (4,30 euros or $6,25 US). Simultaneously, work in the RUECB´s seven regions is to be increased. RUECB-President Yuri Sipko explained: “The model until now has assumed a large central office, which consumed many resources for itself and did not administer them very efficiently. But the centre must be located in the congregations, and national headquarters need to serve the congregations. We are therefore asking how we can best transfer our primary thrust to the seven regions. We must leave them the chance to initiate things; we must supply them with a larger amount of resources.”
A transfer to the regional level is connected to the fact that the work of the new financial department created at the end of 2007 has ceased for the time being. “We have needed to reconsider,” the President stated. “The congregations must decide on the tasks of the national office. Headquarters need to complete the tasks given to them by the congregations. It would therefore be inconsistent to create a new office in headquarters with the objective of gathering funds in the congregations.” Past department head Leonid Kartavenko will be taking on new responsibilities within the RUECB family.
The question of salvation was also discussed by the Council. On this the President reported: “The existing theological labels of ‘Calvinist’ and ‘Arminian’ bother our Baptist brotherhood equally. Being Evangelical Christian-Baptist – that is our identity. But the Christian world has templates and they lead to splits among us. That’s why we simply opened the Bible in brotherly love. We had a wonderful theological discussion which left a good feeling behind. We stressed once more that we are Evangelical Christians-Baptists. Salvation occurs on the basis of God’s revelation; we dare not rely on the teachings of mere humans.”
Only two of the Union’s 57 superintendents were absent from these twice-annual Council sessions, which were held at the RUECB´s Moscow seminary. That’s a small miracle in view of the country’s geographical size. Yuri Sipko is particularly proud of the fact that on 10 March the new educational programme custom-tailored to the needs of the superintendents got off the ground. Those still without a Masters degree in theology can qualify for one within 24 months – mostly through study-by-extension.
The RUECB, Russia’s largest unified Protestant church, represents 80.000 adult members in 1.750 congregations and groups.
Dr. William Yoder
Department for External Church Relations, RUECB
Moscow, 26 March 2008
A release of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. May be
published freely. Release #08-13, 439 words.