East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 7, No. 3, Summer 1999, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe


Moscow-based Freedom of Conscience Society, consisting of director Valerii Nikolskii, Petr Abrashkin, Lev Levenson, Lev Ponomarev, and Fr. Gleb Yakunin, produced a 55-page Russian-language "Freedom of Conscience Society Report" documenting regional legislation in Russia restricting religious freedom.  Produced with the assistance of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the document details instances of discriminatory local legislation, refusal of registration, illegal demands for reregistration, state financing of the Moscow Patriarchate, refusal of accommodations for religious meetings, refusal to return church buildings, refusal of land for building, threats, violence, prison sentences for conscientious objection to military service, and discrimination against the "alternative Orthodox Church of Russia."  It also details circumstances surrounding discrimination against Jehovah's Witnesses, visa limitations for foreign religious workers, and threats and expulsions of foreign religious workers.  A revised edition of the report focusing on regions is in preparation.  To receive a copy, contact Valerii Nikolskii, Director, Freedom of Conscience Society; tel/fax:  7-095-919-54-82; E-mail:  glasnaroda@glasnet.ru.

The first U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom (September 1999) contains sections for each country on the status of freedom of religion, societal attitudes toward religious freedom, and U.S. government policy.  The complete report, with coverage of each nation in East Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, is available on-line at http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/irf/irf_rpt/.

Dr. Galina M. Yemelianova, Research Fellow at  the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK, is the author of "New Muftis, New Russians?," Prism 15 (August 1999), Part 4, an informative six-page article describing the history and current situation of Russia's 12 million Muslims.  To subscribe to Prism, contact: The Jamestown Foundation, 1528 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036; tel:202-483-8888; fax:  202-483-8337; Web site:  http://www.jamestown.org/htm/subscribers.htm.

Youth With A Mission's Frontier Mission Centre, Haywards Heath, UK, has produced Praying Along the Silk Road, a 50-page prayer guide highlighting Central Asia, "one of the last areas of the world in which the Church is finally emerging after centuries of darkness."  The booklet profiles the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the cities of Almaty, Shymkent, Bishkek, Dushanbe, Ashghabat, Tashkent, and Karakalpakstan, as well as the north Caucasus region of Russia, including Dagestan.  Available for $5.00 from:  World Christian News & Books, Box 26439, Colorado Springs, CO 80963; tel:  719-380-0507; fax:  719-380-0936; E-mail:  wcn30days@aol.com; Web site:  http://www.ywam.org/books

Obrovets, Galina, ed.  Rol khristianki v sovremennom obshchestve:  Vserossiiskaia zhenskaia khristianskaia mezhdenominatsionnaia konferentsiia [The Role of the Christian Woman in Contemporary Society:  The All-Russian Interdenominational Christian Women's Conference].  Moscow:  Tsentr bibleiskogo prosveshcheniia, 1999.  103 pages.

This book contains papers given by 30 participants at the All-Russian Christian Women's Conference held in Moscow, 19-21 November 1998.  It covers a wide range of issues relating to women's ministries, including the ministry of prayer, spiritual authority, children's ministry, and ministry to families of alcoholics and drug addicts.  The volume is a sequel to an earlier work with a nearly identical title, Rol khristianki v sovremmenom obshchestve [The Role of the Christian Woman in Contemporary Society], produced with material from an interdenominational women's conference in June 1997.  (See Volume 6, Number 1, of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.)  The 62-page Bibleiskii kliuchi k razreshenniiu zhiznennykh problem [Biblical Keys to Solving Life Problems], by June Hunt (Moscow:  Tsentr bibleiskogo prosveshcheniia, 1999) is another product of the November 1998 conference.  It contains short lessons on Christian coping with such issues as guilt, anger, forgiveness, depression, and loneliness.

Diedrich, H. C., G. Stricker, H. Tschoerner, eds.   Das Gute behaltet--Kirchen und reliögise Gemeinschaften in der Sowjetunion und ihren Nachfolgestaaten [Hold Fast What Is Good--Churches and Religious Communities in the Soviet Union and Its Successor States].  Erlangen:  Martin-Luther-Verlag, 1996; ISBN 3-87513-101-0. 335 pages.  DM 34. (Russian edition in press 1999).  Reviewed by Klaus Herrmanns.

This comprehensive survey of churches, denominations, and religious communities in the former Soviet Union focuses on various Protestant denominations and the Russian Orthodox Church.  Shorter chapters cover the Catholic Church and Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist communities.

In nonacademic prose the volume provides historical and doctrinal profiles of various churches to help readers identify possible partners for cooperation. The bibliography of some 200 relevant titles (most, but not all, in German) will be of interest primarily to academic specialists.  The German publisher is affiliated with the Lutheran Church of Bavaria, which supports Lutheran minority churches in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Brazil.

The description and critical assessment of the teachings, strengths, and challenges of the various denominations clearly show the Lutheran background of the authors.  Still, non-Lutheran readers will find the survey fair and balanced.  The authors are knowledgeable and appreciate and respect the spiritual heritage of various churches.

The book may be obtained directly from the publisher: Martin-Luther-Verlag, Box 2669, D-91014 Erlangen, Germany; tel:  49-9131-7870-0; fax:  49-9874-726.  The Russian edition, published as [Khoroshego derzhites: tserkvi i religioznye obedineniia v rossiiskoi derzhave, sovetskom soiuze i nezavisimykh gosudarstvakh, voznikshikh posle ego raspada] (Kharkov, Ukraine:  Maidan, 1998), is currently out of print.  A second edition is in preparation and may be ordered from Maidan, ul. Chepyshevskaia 59, 310002 Kharkov, Ukraine.

Klaus Herrmanns (herrmanns@rhein-neckar.netsurf.de) is a software consultant in Heidelberg, Germany.

Resources, East-West Church & Ministry Report 7 (Summer 1999), 14.

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

© 1999 East-West Church and Ministry Report
ISSN 1069-5664

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