Baptist Leaders Consider Ukraine Unique from Christian Perspective

30.08.2013, 13:45
Baptist Leaders Consider Ukraine Unique from Christian Perspective - фото 1
Currently, the Ukrainian capital is host to the International Missionary Forum of Evangelical Christian Baptists, in which are taking part more than three thousand delegates from 30 countries. The main events will take place on August 30-31 at the International Exhibition Center KyivExpoPlaza.

130830_1.jpgCurrently, the Ukrainian capital is host to the International Missionary Forum of Evangelical Christian Baptists, in which are taking part more than three thousand delegates from 30 countries. The main events will take place on August 30-31 at the International Exhibition Center KyivExpoPlaza.

On August 29, senior representatives of the Evangelical Christian Baptists gave a press conference, which was attended by RISU correspondent Tetiana Mukhomorova.

The conference was attended by the President of the World Baptist Alliance John Upton, General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation Anthony Peck; Chairman of the All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists Vyacheslav Nesteruck; and deputy of the sixth convocation of Parliament and chairman of the interfactional group “For the Spirituality, Morality, and Health of Ukraine,” Pavlo Ungurian.

“I am very pleased to present the Baptist community, which has 110 million believers in more than 150 countries worldwide. Ukraine has a rich Christian history, and today is a special date because two important holiday fall on this day –  the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus and the 50th anniversary of the legendary speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., and the March on Washington,” said Upton.

According to him, it is from Ukraine where the Christian movement spread to the East, so Ukraine remains a country from where many missionaries come. A unique Ukrainian historical condition Upton said is the comparison of the anniversary celebration of the baptism at the church and state levels, which is quite rare in other countries.

“You can be proud that the baptism began with Volodymyr, you have a long history of Christianity,” Anthony Peck said. “Our church has operated a little more than 400 years (from 1609 in Amsterdam), while yours is over a thousand years old. But we consider ourselves an extension of the Christian movement that was started here.”

Peck says Ukraine is one of the largest centers of the Baptist movement in the world, from where many missionaries and priests come. One good example, he said, is Hryhoriy Komendant, former chairman of the All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists, who served as president of the Baptist group.

In addition, Peck mentioned the discussion on the interaction of church and state, which takes place in Europe. In his opinion, Ukraine is an example of a place where religious freedom exists and where moral values ​​are adopted at the legislative level.

In turn, Vyacheslav Nesteruck outlined the main tasks of the Ukrainian mission of Baptists, such as preaching, missionary work, charity (mainly focused on orphans), rehabilitation of alcohol and drug abusers, and humanitarian aid (which sometimes has problems at customs).

Ukrainian Baptists are well represented on the international scene, in particular in Europe, Africa and Asia, where they actively preach. In Russia, of all the Baptist pastors, about 70% are Ukrainian, who are loved and respected.

One of the core values, which is constantly mentioned by the delegates, is the value of family. One of the events that aims to promote the family is the family march that takes place every year in Volyn. “We did not invent anything new, we just live the Gospel,” added Nesteruck.

Discussion the topic of cooperation with the government, John Upton mentioned the annual breakfast with Obama, to which come national and religious leaders to discuss the importance of religious freedom and support from the government. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon organizes Christmas dinners and invites religious leaders.

After the speeches, the audience asked questions about the legal regulation of same-sex marriages in the European Union. Peck said that Baptists follow the traditional model of the family and try to regulate the initiatives that are heard in the European Parliament.

“The EU is ready to listen and hear every thought. The European Parliament has a church group that monitors legislation and provides feedback to the government on certain initiatives. Therefore, Ukraine should not be afraid to join the EU,” said Peck.

He added that the church certainly cannot dictate terms to the government, but it is active and cooperates with Christian lawyers and Christians politicians, who have a significant impact on the situation and the laws in general.

“The church has never been a political organization, it only prays for the government and its resolutions for changes in the state of Ukraine. In addition to that, all we can do is promote reforms or delay their implementation. Regarding the EU, we see that neighboring countries have had a positive experience, having been able to maintain their moral values, ​​which do not always coincide with European priorities, and have gained economic benefits,” joined the discussion Pavlo Ungurian. According to him, now in the Ukrainian parliament there are 10 MPs who are Baptists and who joined the interfactional organization “For the Spirituality, Morality, and Health of Ukraine.”

The last topic of the meeting was the issue of Syria, which worries the whole world community. According to Peck, the main aspect of this conflict is the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites, and the radicalization of certain groups. He noted that he prays for there to be no war, though he believes that the use of chemical weapons by Assad is unacceptable.

The world delegates outlined a number of important issues that will always remain relevant, such as the introduction and strengthening of moral values ​​of humanity that resonate with Christian morals and the freedom of religion. However, while these problems are faced by contemporaries, currently there are few clear answers as to how they need to be addressed and what actions will bring results, because these processes affect many players – the government, church, community leaders, marginalized groups, and others.

“In our lives we must always personally embody the values ​​in real life, rather than rely only on the strength of senior representatives, for only then can we wait for improvements,” stressed the Baptist leaders.