Special Theme Edition on the Current Ukrainian Crisis:   Volume 22, No. 3  (Summer 2014)

The East West Church &  Ministry Report has issued a special theme edition examining the impact of the current Ukrainian crisis on the church and ministries in Ukraine and Russia.

This theme issue is now available in pdf format in English,  Russian, and Ukrainian.

Read more about the East West Church & Ministry Report  in EnglishRussian, or Ukrainian 

Polish Nuns Resistant to Secret Police Pressure

Jonathan Luxmoore

Polish nuns withstood pressure from Communist secret police better than male clergy, according to Mother Jolanta Olech, president of Poland’s Conference of Superiors of Female Religious Orders. Nuns who researched Interior Ministry files found that no more than 30 people associated with women religious had been recruited by secret police during the 1980s, when collaborators were most active.

“Documentation shows nuns were much tougher to recruit than priests,” Mother Jolanta said. “We can certainly say that in this very difficult situation, the sisters passed the test.” At least 10 percent of priests are estimated to have acted as informers under Communist rule.

Most of the country’s 44 dioceses and at least 30 religious orders set up commissions to investigate possible collaboration following the 7 January 2007 resignation of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus of Warsaw after he admitted working with Communist secret police. According to church historian, Jan Zaryn, religious sisters were harder to blackmail than male clergy because of their stronger rules and traditions of obedience. F

Excerpted with permission of CNS

www.catholicnews.com. Copyright © 2007 Catholic  News Service

Book Review

Mapping Baptistic Identity/Towards an Understanding of European Baptist Identity: Listening to the Churches in Armenia, Bulgaria, Central Asia, Moldova, North Caucasus, Omsk and Poland. Edited by Rollin G. Grams and Parush R. Parushev. Prague: International Baptist Theological Seminary, 2006. Reviewed by Roger Chapman.

Mapping Baptistic Identity is arranged around the findings of a 2002-2003 survey of “baptistic” leaders and seminary students of various countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia as administered by the Institute of Systematic Study of Contextual Theologies at the International Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTS), Prague.

Rollin G. Grams and Parush R. Parushev, the editors, define the term baptistic as believing communities (“gathering” fellowships) that share in the practice of adult baptism and “radical moral living” and are part of churches neither under state sponsorship nor oriented around ethnic identity. In actuality, most of the survey respondents are Baptists, under the umbrella of the European Baptist Federation, but the editors also count Pentecostals and Adventists as baptistic. IBTS undertook this research of baptistic identity by taking advantage of its contact with seminarians and conference participants from some 52 Baptist unions and member churches across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Each chapter offers cursory information on the specific country or region under focus and usually something about the existing Christian context. This is followed by information on how the specific survey was conducted, the number of respondents, their ages and gender, as well as theological background. The findings, covering five broad categories (theological issues, moral issues, leadership areas, church issues, and church and state/culture issues), constitute the bulk of the book.

Collectively, spiritual life (e.g., prayer, reading the Bible, fasting) ranked as one of the top theological concerns in the surveys. Under church unity, respondents regarded marital issues and speech (e.g., gossip, slander) as major moral topics in need of addressing. Under leadership, chief concerns included education of church leaders, misuse of power, and leadership transition within congregations. Mission work, church programs for select groups, and church/denominational unity were ranked most important under the subject of church issues. Finally, registration of churches with state authorities, teaching Protestant education in schools, and freedom to evangelize were main topics of concern under the church and state/culture category.

The editors acknowledge that this research is a preliminary sketch at best. The most serious shortcoming is the scant number of respondents for large swaths of geography: North Caucasus (Russia), 15; Armenia, 20; Bulgaria, 44; Central Asia, 21; Moldova, 23; Omsk Oblast (Russia), 24; Poland, 23. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that the concerns of seminary students match those of rank-and-file church members. F

Roger Chapman is assistant professor of history, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Palm Beach, Florida. From 1993 to 1997, he served as a Church of Christ missionary in Russia.