East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 1, No. 3, Summer 1993, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe


News Notes

Budapest Weekly Sounds Alarm: Hungarian Restrictions on Religous Liberty. Freedom of religion is guaranteed in Hungary's constitution. A new draft bill in Parliament, however, would place limits on which churches and religious orders could officially register in the country. Only churches with more than 10,000 followers or a 100-year local history would qualify for religious status here, if the proposal passes. The Parliament has already shown its leaning on the issue, having denied state support earlier this month to several religious orders. At that time, MPs singled out Reverend Sun Yung Moon's Unification Church, Krishna believers, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Hungarian Church of Scientology as "destructive" in nature.

Editor's note: Excerpted from Budapest Weekly 3 (25-31 March 1993),1. The government reallocated funds denied to the four sects to smaller Christian groups. In refusing his church's share, Rev. Tibor Ivanyi, president of the Hungarian Evangelical Fellowship, wrote, "This placating move on the part of the government is an attempt to make debtors of the smaller churches and victims of the bigger." If the bill passes Ivanyi feels it will be "a discouraging move away from democracy."

 

According to the Humanitarian Assistance Committee of Russia, 67 percent of humanitarian aid went to Moscow and 17 percent to St. Petersburg last year. This may be the result  of the fact that public officials from these two largest Commonwealth cities have a greater ability to publicize municipal needs.

"American Aid:  The View From Moscow." Surviving Together 10 (Winter 1992), 26.

 

Over 100 Korean missionaries now work in the former Soviet Union. Some who dismissed the Orthodox Church as heretical prompted a Russian diplomatic initiative.  Moscow advised officials in Seoul "to warn future Korean missionaries to their land." Afterwards, "South Korea's Ministry of Information met with Korean Mission organizations." South Koreans now have formed the Russian Missions Association to provide Russian cultural orientation for Christian workers in the former Soviet Union.

Korean Torch for World Missions 1 (January-March, 1993), 7.

 

Pope John Paul II has prevailed upon Carmelite nuns to move their residence from the grounds of Auschwitz concentration camp to an interdenominational Center for Information, Meeting, Dialogue, Education and Prayer, adjacent to the  holocaust site. The issue has been a point of contention in Polish politics and in Catholic-Jewish relations.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Daily Report, 15 April 1993.

 

Bulgaria's National Statistical Institute reported on 15 April 1993 a population of 8,472,724. Turks and Gypsies, the largest minorities, represent 9.7% and 3.4% respectively. Christians were reported to number 7,373,000 and Muslims, 1,078,000. The Muslim Spiritual Union considers the Institute's calculations to have grossly understated Muslim strength.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Daily Report, 16 April 1993.

Editor's note: Statisticians appear to have calculated Christians on the basis of birth, rather than professions of faith.

 

A growing tide of anti-semitism has alarming links to ultra-nationalist elements within the Russian Orthodox Church, according to Zoya Krakhmal'nikova, well-known former dissident and prisoner of conscience. A Jewish convert to Russian Orthodoxy at the age of 40, she considers anti-semitism damaging not only to Russia's Jews, but to the spiritual vitality of her church, and to the prospects for democracy. Along with S.V. Lezov and Alexander Nezhny she serves as a co-president of the new International Association `The Christian Alternative to the Threat of Russian Fascism.'

To combat anti-semitic publications, which are reported to have circulations of several million per month, Khrakhmal'nikova's association plans to launch a Christian newspaper whose purpose will be to interpret "all the serious problems of contemporary Russian life from a Christian viewpoint."  She writes, "We are turning to Christians from various countries with a request for help. In present day Russia, passing as it is through very difficult trials, it is impossible for us to carry out our program without sponsors and without spiritual and material support."

Contact:

 

World Vision recently launched a Christian Resource Center in Moscow "to provide accurate and timely information about economic, social, political and religious developments...that impact Christian ministry" in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Dr. Sharon Linzey, former associate professor of sociology at Seattle Pacific University, serves as senior coordinator. Critical support for the new venture has come from Mr. Serge Duss, World Vision director for the former Soviet Union, and Dr. Anita Deyneka, director of research and communication, Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries. Major projects underway include survey work, which will result in the publication of a directory of indigenous Christian ministries in former East Bloc countries; a news magazine; a forthcoming "Survival Guide" for ministry workers in Moscow; and a July 1993 conference on "Morality in a Changing Society." (See Calendar.)

World Vision News, 31 March 1993.

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Who Owns Bibles? Polls conducted in February-March 1993 by the Russian Center for Public Opinion Studies revealed that 45.8 percent of businessmen and 43.8 percent of state plant managers owned a Bible. However, none of the entrepreneurs had read any Scripture in the month prior to the survey.  Pollsters were surprised to learn that "very few farmers or agricutural workers have a Bible."

Natalya Rusakova, Commersant, 23 March 1993, 4.

 

Rev. Zdravko Beslov, head  of the Methodist Church in Bulgaria, died February 26, 1993, at the age of 72.  Elected superintendent of Bulgarian Methodism in 1990, Beslov previously served 14 years in prison under the Communists. He received the World Methodist Peace Award in 1992.


News Notes, East-West Church & Ministry Report, 1 (Summer 1993), 17.

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1993 East-West Church and Ministry Report
ISSN 1069-5664


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