East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 2, No. 1, Winter 1994, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe


Vaterlaus, Melissa.  A Practical Guide to Real Life in Moscow.  Moscow:  Triad Christian Mission, 1993.  160 pp. $10.

This comprehensive, no-nonsense manual for Western newcomers to Moscow will pay for itself many times over through its detailed and savvy treatment of all manner of critical concerns:  entry issues, packing, appliances, transportation, shopping, cooking, security, communications (mail, telephone, fax), money, health care, and Christian literature sources.

Sample several examples of the author's hard-won advice:

An unavoidable predicament for Real Life stems from the current pace of change in Moscow.  While cost information already dates the book, quoted prices still can serve as comparative benchmarks.  And while the book's 35-page directory will deservedly become dog-eared, the monthly Moscow Tribune "Telephone Book" insert could serve as a helpful supplement.  One also could wish for less of an American frame of reference.

The one truly troubling feature of the guide is its frequently  negative tone regarding almost all things Russian.  Moscow natives, if they happen across the volume, likely will find its bite and edge offensive:

Ironically, Vaterlaus not only notes but appears also to serve as an illustration of the toll that the wear and tear of Russian daily life can have on foreign as well as native residents. Tenor aside, Westerners in Moscow definitely will be well served by this truly indispensable guide.

$10 plus $3 shipping/handling from the Institute for East-West Christian Studies, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 60187-5593; tel:  708-752-5917; fax:  708-752-5555.  (Illinois residents add $0.68 per book sales tax.  International shipping is by book rate.  Visa and MasterCard are accepted.) Copies may be obtained from the Christian Resource Center for $12.50 each (Box 115, Moscow, Russia 117311; tel/fax:  7095-939-0641; fax:  7095-437-6296 or 7503-956-5022).  CRC cannot accept checks.

Reviewed by Mark Elliott, editor.

New "Credo" Documentaries Worth the Watch

Five of ten 1992-93 video documentaries on religion in Europe, released by Films for the Humanities and Sciences, treat East Central Europe and the former Soviet Union:  "Russian and Ukrainian Jews," "The Russian Orthodox Church," "The Catholic Church in Poland," "Muslims in Bulgaria," and "The Hungarian Reformed Church."

Each of these 30-minute, color, British productions features memorable photography and background music.  The films also provide sufficient historical background for the average viewer to make sense of contemporary developments, which is the focal point of each documentary.  The emphasis upon very recent issues?such as 1992-93 Polish controversies over abortion and religious education in schools, or the 1992 relegalization of Turkish-language instruction in Bulgaria?gives the documentaries immediate relevance, but probably also doom them to rapid dating.

The films can be revealing:

And moving: On the downside, the pace sometimes drags, especially in "Russian and Ukrainian Jews" and in "The Hungarian Reformed Church."  And errors do occur:  the estimate of four to six million Russian and Ukrainian Jews is at least two to three times too high.  Fortunately, such miscues are rare.

Probably the worst that can be said, and it is a mild reservation, is that much of East European religious life did not make it into view:   Eastern Orthodoxy and Judaism in the former Soviet Bloc, Catholicism outside Poland and Russia, and Protestantism outside Hungary.

Still, it is fair to say that the Credo series easily is the most accurate, up-to-date, and wide-ranging documentary treatment of religion in Eastern Europe available in English.

For purchase or rentals contact:

Videos cost $149 each, plus 5% for shipping/handling.  Rentals run $75, plus $7.45 shipping/handling each.

Bishop Lazlo Tokes on Spiritual Loss and Spiritual Gain

Speaking to the Hungarian Reformed World Conference
People used to say, "they took our faith away and put nothing in its place."  This statement has become a cliche.  But if we think about it, it is truer today than ever.  They robbed us and destroyed our lives, society, churches, and nation.  The Turks killed us bodily and the Hapsburgs tormented our souls, but the Communists destroyed both body and soul.

It would have been bad enough if they had merely taken our possessions, our property, and our land.  But following a carefully planned strategy, they took our faith, our rights, our freedom, and our churches.  They seized our culture and traditions.  Then came the persecution, with the most tragic consequences.  They wanted to deprive us of God and alienate us from other people.  It was like taking an ax and chopping at the roots of our communities.

But we too were to blame.  Our silence made us accomplices in this crime.  As victims, we played into the hands of our persecutors.  Servility and resignation made us sinners.  So how do we respond to this?  As Reformists we can answer this with a truly Reformist saying, "If God is with us, who can be against us?"  Those who love God will come to no harm.  That is the answer of the Word, an answer based on faith.  The Reformist response is sola fide, by faith alone.  The name Reformist explains the meaning and purpose of our religion.  The Reformist faith reflects our return to the Scriptures.  The catechism states that Holy Scripture is the only true measure of our faith and our lives.

Source:  Credo:  The Hungarian Reformed Church (1993).  See preceding video review.

Seymore, Bruce II, ed.  The Access Guide to Ethnic Conflicts in Europe and the Former Soviet Union.  Washington, DC:  Access, 1994.  168 pp. $19.95, plus $3 shipping/handling.

Contents:  an informed, concise, and readable introductory essay by veteran scholar Paul Goble; a serviceable bibliography (8 pp.); well-balanced, succinct profiles of ethnic conflicts, including 14 pages on the former Yugoslavia and 18 pages on the former Soviet Union; a glossary (5 pp.); excerpts from international human-rights accords (9 pp.); a directory of relevant academic, peace and conflict resolution, and ethnic and human-rights programs and organizations (58 pp.); and a brief but invaluable, annotated survey of computer, educational, and curricular resources (3 pp).

Surprisingly, religion gets short shrift in the resources and directory sections despite its centrality to most European ethnic disputes.  Compensate at this point with the East-West Christian Organizations Directory, highlighted in the EWC&M Report 1 (Winter 1993), 3.  Still, The Access Guide to Ethnic Conflicts provides a neat and tidy introduction to a subject that is anything but.  To order contact:  Access, 1730 M Street NW, Suite 605, Washington, DC 20036; tel:  202-783-6050; fax:  202-783-4767.

The East-West Christian Organizations Directory, now published in the Russian language, includes over 674 agencies working in East Central Europe and the former Soviet Union.  Copies available for $2 from the Christian Resource Center, Box 115, Moscow, Russia 117311; tel/fax:  7095-939-0641; fax:  7095-437-6296 or 7503-956-5022.  CRC cannot accept checks.  The English edition ($15) may be ordered from Berry Publishing Services, Inc., 701 Main St., Evanston, IL 60202; tel:  708-869-1573; 800-274-9447; fax:  708-869-4825; and the Institute for East-West Christian Studies, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 60187; tel:  708-752-5917; fax:  708-752-5555 ($15 plus $3 shipping/handling; Illinois residents must add $1.01 sales tax).

Nonprofit Alert, a legal information service of the law firm of Gammon & Grange, is making English-language documentation available on 1993 threats to Russian freedom of religion. The 17-page Proposed Changes to Russian Federation Law on Freedom of Religion Commentary ($75)  provides detailed analysis of legislative history, existing law, previously proposed changes, and projected consequences for foreign organizations. Proposed Changes to Russian Federation Law on Freedom of Religion--Documents ($50) contains translations of seven documents, including existing and draft laws and implementing decrees. A strong likelihood exists that Russia's new Parliament will debate new attempts to restrict the 1990 law on freedom of religion. For that reason, these Nonprofit Alert publications retain far more than merely historic interest.

Pravoslavnaya Moskva, spravochnik deistvuyushchikh monastyrei i khramov (Orthodox Moscow, a Reference Book of Active Monasteries and Churches), published by Moscow's Brotherhood of St. Tikhon in 1993, profiles working monasteries and churches, their history, current programs, hours of services, parish priests, addresses, and telephones. This practical, 224-page directory includes over 100 churches reopened in 1990-92.

Interactive computer software now makes it possible to take simulated, self-guided tours of renowned Russian museums, galleries, and historical landmarks. Cascade Marketing International is developing a series of Russian-English interactive programs for IBM and IBM-compatible personal computers. "Lavra" ($89.95), for example, explores the art and architecture of the celebrated Holy Trinity Saint Sergius Monastery in a way that is both instructive and entertaining. Also available is Volume 1 ($129.95) of a planned five-volume Hermitage Museum series.

The new address for Russian Christian Publishing is Box 1, Partridge, KS 67566; tel: 316-567-3222; fax: 316-567-3122. RCP Director David Wagler provides translation services and Christian literature in Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Romanian, and Albanian.

A Third Catalogue of Literature and Resources for Russian Jewish Evangelism profiles materials designed for ministry to Russian Jews. Sections on video, music, tapes, books, periodicals, and Bibles and New Testaments provide descriptions, costs, and ordering information.

Health Information for International Travel, a physician's handbook written in layman's language, outlines foreign countries' entry requirements and innoculation recommendations. This U.S. Center for Disease Control paperback is available for $6.50. Request H.H.S. publication C.D.C. 93-8280, code 017-023-00192-9 from the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, DC 20402; tel: 202-782-3238.

Slavic Christian Publishers offers Russian and Ukrainian publication services, including translation, editing, and distribution. SCP networks with Slavic bookstores worldwide and maintains literature warehouses in the former Soviet Union.

 Resources, East-West Church & Ministry Report, 2 (Winter 1994), 12-13.

Written permission is required for reprinting or electronic distribution of any portion of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.

1994 Institute for East-West Christian Studies
ISSN 1069-5664

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