Saying "No" to Silence
In the name of Lausanne, Russian Baptists and Pentecostals are finding back to each other
M o s c o w -- The Lausanne movement is on the upswing in Russia. On 29 July, for the first time in years, a meeting of Baptists with Pentecostals and Charismatics on Lausanne took place at the Moscow headquarters of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (RUECB). Because Lausanne's international conferences are time-wise far apart, churches tend to become active only during periods immediately before the holding of a conference.
Lausanne offers a theological basis for the joint evangelistic efforts of differing confessions. Following the meeting on 29 July, Pavel Bak, First Vice-President of the Pentecostal "Russian Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith", stressed that Protestants could, by standing together, obtain the stamina necessary to overcome the rejection of the Russian public. "Society's judgment is a problem for us. And its verdict states: 'Your public testimony destroys Russian national identity. It would therefore be highly preferable that you keep quiet.' We often give in to that kind of talk and only speak in such a way that no one else hears us."
In further conversation, Pavel Okara, the President of this church, agreed that renewed cooperation between Baptist and Pentecostal denominations is essentially a continuation of that which had already existed during the Soviet period: Both denominations had then belonged to the same All-Union Council. Yet this renewed cooperation is for the first time truly voluntary. In the USSR, state registration was usually only possible through joining the officially Baptist All-Union Council.
The Charismatic federation, the "Associated Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical-Pentecostal Faith", was represented by its Bishop, Sergey Rahovski. Two representatives from the Pentecostal "Union of Free Churches of Christians of Evangelical Faith in Ukraine", were also present: Bishop Vassily Raichinets (Uzhgorod/West Ukraine) and Rector Anatoly Gluhovski from the church's Kiev seminary. Chairman of the Lausanne movement in Russia is the RUECB's President: Yuri Sipko,
Vitaly Vlasenko, Director of External Church Relations for the RUECB, attributed the absence of other denominations to the fact that only these three denominations have in the past been active in Russia's Lausanne movement. He added: "But we are open to accepting all churches willing to participate." At the next Moscow session of the "Advisory Council of the Leaders of the Protestant Churches of Russia" scheduled for early September, all other denominations are to be invited to participate.
The Lausanne movement, which was founded in 1974 in Lausanne/Switzerland under the guidance of US-Evangelist Billy Graham, is related closely to the Evangelical Alliance. Lausanne conferences were held in Manila 1989 and Pattaya/Thailand 2004. The next major conference is scheduled for Cape Town/South Africa in 2010.
William Yoder, Ph.D.
Department for External Church Relations, RUECB
Moscow, 01 August 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 #08-33, 429 words.