The Brotherhood is Alive
New committees created at Fall Russian Baptists sessions
M o s c o w -- „Our brotherhood is alive and puts its decisions into action.” That was the response of Yuri Sipko (Moscow), President of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (RUECB), to the news that donations from congregations this year would far exceed the amount given in 2007. At the end of July, the donated amount was already more than twice as much as the total given for all of last year. These good tidings were reported at the Fall sessions of the Union Council (Soyuz Sovieta), which ended on the campus of the RUECB’s Moscow seminary on 24 October.
President Sipko described the creation of five new committees as a special feature of the Fall sessions – they were created to help make decisions more effective. Each of the five committees is chaired by a regional superintendent (also called “starshy presviter” or “bishop”). Vitaly Vlasenko (Moscow), Director of External Church Relations, noted: “I believe the five new committees will lead to the regions being more actively involved in the affairs of the central office. They promise better coordination and support for the tasks at hand. Ties between the central office and regions will be improved.”
The five committees have a mandate to supervise and support the work of the RUECB’s departments. The Committee for Church Service led by Alexander Mandzyuk (Naberezhnye Chelny) will oversee the work of the departments for Pastors, Theology and Catechism, Youth, Children, Men’s and Women’s work. Superintendent Victor Zaitsev from the distant city of Irkutsk will head the committee for Mission and Evangelisation. The educational committee headed by Superintendent Peter Vorobyov (Volgograd) will oversee both formal and informal educational programmes. Superintendent Victor Ignatenkov (Smolensk) will check the work of the departments for Mass Media and External Relations. The committee on Finance and Budget will be led by Andrei Protasov from Protovsk-Zabaikalsk in Chita Region.
Following the sessions a participant concluded: “This was a first step on the road to reform. We will need to exert ourselves in order to achieve a sustainable process of reform.” The Union’s next president is scheduled to begin his term in 2010.
President Sipko assured that the RUECB intends to increase its efforts to reach the
non-Slavic minorities resident in the Russian republics of Yakutiya, Khakassia and Bashkortostan. Missionaries intend to study
their history, languages and cultures. These peoples are to receive the New Testament in their mother tongue – even if no translation is available at present.
It was reported on matters of real estate that a well-endowed renter (a firm selling fire fighting equipment) took over the 3rd and 4th floors of RUECB headquarters at the beginning of August. An upgrading of electrical and ventilation systems is still needed in the building.
The second increment of a two-year programme to further the education of superintendents took place during the 10 days prior to the beginning of the Council. The programme had been instituted last March. Those without a Masters’ degree in theology can hope to obtain one within a two-year period through this programme. Approximately 51 of the Union’s 57 superintendents were present for the programme; the remaining were excused for reasons of health.
William Yoder, Ph.D.
Department for External Church Relations, RUECB
Moscow, 29 October 2008
A release of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. May be published freely. Release #08-49, 520 words.