In Moscow 386 public libraries serve 1,800,000 patrons. In November 1993 when Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries asked the city's library directors if they would like to have a Christian book section in their libraries, all but 14 responded positively. As a result, in 1994-95 Russian Ministries delivered approximately 70 Christian books to each library.
Nikolai Shalatovsky, Russian Ministries coordinator for the public library project, also organized the first-ever Moscow Christian Book Fair. Held by joint agreement with Library #174 in July and August 1995, the exhibit featured 60 publishers in the Moscow area. The majority of the several hundred titles on display concerned the Russian Orthodox faith. However, the most popular title was the Evangelical reference work, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, first published in English by Victor Books (Wheaton, IL). This five-volume study provides Scripture text explanations in Russian in easily understood everyday language. Other popular books at the fair included Women of the Bible and the Russian translation of Walter Martin's Kingdom of the Cults.
The Board of Directors of United World Mission appointed Rev. Eugene W. "Woody" Phillips, Jr. to the position of president of UWM, effective 1 August 1995. For the past several years he has served as vice president and Eastern Europe area director for UWM, as well as field coordinator for The Alliance for Saturation Church Planting, a network of over 60 mission agencies and local churches facilitating church growth in the former Soviet Union. UWM is a nondenominational, church-planting mission agency, with nearly 200 missionaries working in 27 countries around the world. Phillips succeeds Dr. Dwight P. Smith. Ms. Norie Roeder will serve as acting field coordinator for the Alliance in Budapest, Hungary. On 18 September the executive committee of the Alliance appointed Mr. Don Crane as the new field director. Contact:
The Lithuanian Seimas (parliament) on 4 October adopted a law defining legal relations between the Lithuanian state and religious societies and associations. According to the law, there is no state religion in Lithuania. The state does, however, recognize nine Lithuanian religious societies and associations: the Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, the Lutheran Evangelists [Evangelicals], the Reform Evangelists [Evangelicals], the Orthodox, the Old Believers (a schism from the Russian Orthodox Church), the Jews, the Sunni Moslems, and the Karaimites (an ancient, local Lithuanian-Moslem ethnic and religious community).
All other religious associations can only be recognized as having joined Lithuania's historical, spiritual, and social heritage if they enjoy popular support and provided their teachings and rituals do not violate law or morality. To receive official recognition by the state, nontraditional religious associations must wait for 25 years to elapse following their official registration in Lithuania.
Reprinted with permission from The Baltic Observer, 12-18 October 1995, 2.
Editors' Note: While Baptist, Mennonite, Methodist, and Pentecostal churches were present in Lithuania prior to World War I, they have not escaped state discrimination as "nontraditional" religions with no prospect for "official recognition" for 25 years. Since Lithuania was the last European nation to convert to Christianity (14th century), neopagans might justifiably argue that all Christian churches are "nontraditional" interlopers. It all depends on one's date for separating "traditional" from "nontraditional" religion. Discrimination based on arbitrary definitions of "nontraditional" threatens religious liberty in the Russian Republic as well.
World Orthodox Youth Meeting
Orthodox Christian youth from more than 45 countries gathered in Cyprus, 20-28 September 1995, for the 15th General Assembly of SYNDESMOS, The World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth. SYNDESMOS President Fr. Heikki Huttunen of Finland and Secretary-General Alexander Belopopsky of Great Britain presented reports on the work accomplished since the last assembly in Russia in 1992. During the assembly, 45 new member organizations were accepted into the fellowship from countries as far apart as Canada, Congo, Russia, and South Africa. SYNDESMOS now has a total of 117 member organizations. Dr. Dimitri Oikonomou, a Byzantine specialist from Great Britain, was elected president of SYNDESMOS, and Mr. Vladimir Misijuk of Poland was selected to serve as secretary-general. It was also decided at the assembly to transfer the administration of major programs from Paris to a new office in Bialystok, Poland.
Source: Orthodox Press Service, No. 71, 25 October 1995.
New Life Eurasia, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, organized a prayer conference
in Moscow, 26-28 September 1995. More than 700 Baptist and
Pentecostal pastors from 77 cities and regions of the former Soviet
Union met for prayer and encouragement. This meeting represents
one of the largest interdenominational gatherings of Evangelical
pastors since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Source: "The New Life Eurasia Partners in Prayer Update," 1 October 1995.
International Consultation Between Evangelicals and Orthodox
An international group of church leaders from Eastern Orthodox and Evangelical communities assembled in Alexandria, Egypt, 10-15 July 1995. The consultation followed a smaller gathering of World Council of Churches (WCC) leaders held in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1993. Forty participants from 22 countries gathered at the invitation of the WCC to examine the theme, "Proclaiming Christ Today." Participants included mainline Protestant Evangelicals and Orthodox from Greece, Syria, Jordan, Romania, Russia, the United States, and representatives of independent academic organizations such as the American-based Society for the Study of Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism (SSEOE). Attention focused on areas of convergence and divergence between Orthodox and Evangelical churches, especially with regard to cooperative missions, worship, and the sharing of educational curricula. The consultation urged the traditions to commit themselves to an ongoing process of collaboration and search for deeper understanding. For further information, contact:
|George Lemopoulos and Hubert van Beek
General Secretariat Office of the WCC
150 Route de Ferney
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
Waukegan, IL 60085
St. Petersburg Metropolitan Ioann died of a heart attack at his home on 2 November, Ekspress khronika
reported. He was 68. Ioann began serving as metropolitan on 20 July
1990. In September 1992, he began publishing a series of articles in
nationalist and extreme Communist newspapers such as Sovetskaya Rossiya and Den.
Denouncing "the imperialist West" and "money-grubbers" who "ravage and
sell out Russia," he supported building a strongly centralized state.
He also wanted to reintegrate Ukraine and Belarus into Russia.
Source: Open Media Research Institute Daily Digest, 3 November 1995.
See EWC&M Report 3 (Summer 1995), 3-5, for additional comments on Metropolitan Ioann.
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© 1995 Institute for East-West Christian Studies