Sharon Linzey, editor. Christianity in Russia and Post Communist Europe, 2003. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library Publishers, 2003. 377 pp.
Reviewed by Sharyl Corrado.
Sharon Linzey must be commended for compilation of an impressive reference work, a valuable international and interdenominational directory of current Christian ministry efforts on behalf of post-Communist Europe. Over a decade of research, supported by a variety of academic institutions and ministries, has culminated in this 377-page volume detailing international ministry efforts on behalf of post-Communist Europe from Australia to South Korea, Brazil to the Vatican, and national churches and ministries in the region itself. Arranged geographically, each entry lists contact information, description of activities, publications, and denominational and other affiliations. Inclusion of Web sites and E-mail addresses, as well as mailing addresses and telephone numbers, facilitates communication among organizations wishing to cooperate in a given region or ministry focus. This directory is invaluable to all wishing to network, share resources,or simply learn from the experiences of others. Introductory articles by Russian Orthodox priests Yakov Krotov and George Kochetkov provide insights especially valuable to Westerners seeking to serve in primarily Orthodox regions.
However, this volume must not be understood to be comprehensive or even representative of Christian ministries currently operating in Central Europe and the former Soviet Union. Distribution of questionnaires, arguably the most practical method of collecting such enormous amounts of data, excludes organizations not represented at large central gatherings or missing from the centralized mailing lists accessible to a Western sociologist. Conspicuously underrepresented in the territories of the former Soviet Union, for example, are Orthodox Churches and ministries, as well as the majority of smaller churches and ministries outside large cities. Note, for example, that Nizhny Novgorod, the third largest city in Russia, is listed as having no Orthodox Churches or ministries (try telling that to its bishop!) and no Western Protestant churches (what would the city's Vineyard, Calvary Chapel, or Global Strategy World Missions pastors think?).
Because of the tremendous volume of data provided, this reviewer would suggest that future editions be published as a searchable database for sale as a CD-ROM, allowing keyword searches to supplement the broad categories such as sports, humanitarian, and cultural, listed in the index. More attention to editing would also improve the utility of the volume. A quick glance noted incorrect transcription of Cyrillic names, inconsistent or incorrect geographic listings, multiple entries for the same organization, and irregular or poor translations of organization names. For example, on pp. 309-10 Nizhegorodskaya Oblast is listed separately from its capital, Nizhny Novgorod. While eight organizations are listed in Nizhny Novgorod, one from the city is inexplicably (although not falsely) listed with organizations from the oblast. Another Nizhny Novgorod ministry is inaccurately included among ministries in the Novgorodskaya Oblast. Even more confusing, affiliation is claimed with "Christian Organization of Students, Russia," an organization that appears in the previous column as "Soobschestvo ["sic"] Studentov Khristian (CCX) - The Fellowship of Christian Students" (although the reader is given no clue that these are the same group), and in the index incomprehensively as "Soobschestvo ["sic"] Fellowship Students." Furthermore, its contact name and E-mail are inaccurate and its description as a 13-member local fellowship is misleading, given the organization's presence throughout Western Russia and Siberia. Unfortunately, such mistakes appear to be prevalent throughout the work.
This volume is an extremely impressive attempt to catalog a tremendous variety of Christian church and ministry efforts on behalf of the countries of the former Soviet bloc. Linzey must be commended for her vision and efforts toward such an overwhelming project. While the size of the undertaking renders comprehensiveness and accuracy virtually impossible, the extent of her research worldwide makes the volume invaluable in terms of scope and geographic diversity. This is a necessary reference tool for any individual or organization wishing to learn from, partner with, or assist other believers with similar goals and visions for Christian service in this part of the world.
Sharyl Corrado is a doctoral student in Russian history at the University of Illinois, Urbana, IL.
Book Review, East-West Church & Ministry Report 11 (Spring 2003), 13.
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