Racism – a Daily Issue for Many
Russian Protestants Commemorate Martin-Luther-King-Day for the first time
M o s c o w – Probably for the first time ever, Russian Protestants have commemorated Martin-Luther-King-Jr.-Day. This occurred on 15 January in a worship service held by “Moscow City Church” (MCC) at Hotel Milan in the south of the city and attended by 70 mostly young people. The actual holiday, first celebrated in the USA in 1986, takes place on the third Monday of every year.
Rev. Vitaly Vlasenko, Director of External Church Relations for the “Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists” and one of MCC’s pastors, stated that many Russians believe racism to be a distant and foreign issue. A report at the service by Daniel Ekat, a citizen of Cameroon, made clear that such a view can only be held by the white residents of Russia. Ekat, an engineer, has been beaten up twice during his ten-year stay in Russia. He reported: “My friends are often afraid to go out into the street. When a person covered with blood is brought into our dormitory, it leaves many of my friends aghast and uncertain as to whether they should continue their studies or return home immediately. Russians think only hooligans are involved in such practices, but that is only part of the truth. We are beaten on by all those who regard us as dark-skinned monkeys.”
In an interview, another speaker at the event, the US-American Methodist Matthew Laferty, pastor of the partially-African “Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy” (MPC), insisted: “My people are confronted daily with the problem of racism.” Vlasenko added that although discrimination may appear latent to some, it dare not be ignored in Russia and elsewhere.
The real issue is God’s truths, not Martin Luther King: “As with all of us humans, King was deficient in some areas of his life.”
All speakers were adamant in their insistent that all human beings are created by God and of equal worth in his eyes – that any other opinion on this issue is sin. Galatians 3,28 was quoted more than once: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
MCC hopes Martin-Luther-King-Day can become a traditional, annual event not only in their congregation. They are considering the creation of an annual Martin-Luther-King-award to be presented to a person active in the fostering of human rights for all. Vlasenko says his church is committed to serving Moscow’s people by helping to change their way of thinking on moral issues.
MPC is very active in serving needy people of colour as well as Russians. Pastor Vlasenko expresses the deep hope that MCC-MPC relations might „be strengthened and developed“ during the coming years. MPC desires greater contact with Russian congregations - its social service projects are very much in need of further assistance. MPC’s “Racial Task Force” has been documenting violent acts committed against people of colour over the past five years. As soon as additional funding and personnel are available, this documentation should be appearing in Russian. One can find the English-language documentation under “www.mpcrussia.org”. Click on “Social Ministries”.
Moscow City Church is a member of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists.
William Yoder, Ph.D.
Moscow, 22 January 2012
Press service of the Russian Evangelical Alliance
A release of the Russian Evangelical Alliance. It is informational in character and does not express a sole, official position of Alliance leadership. Release #12-02, 519 words, 3.150 keystrokes and spaces.