Baptist World Alliance, BWA News Release

BWA President Meets Russian Orthodox Patriarch

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Baptist World Alliance (BWA) President John Upton led a Baptist delegation, which included Hans Guderian, president of the European Baptist Federation, in a meeting with Kirill I, Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, on March 29.

Krill I, who was enthroned in 2009, is the second consecutive Russian Orthodox Patriarch to meet with a BWA leader. BWA General Secretary Neville Callam met with Krill’s predecessor, Alexius II, in June 2008, where Callam expressed a desire for stronger relations between Baptists and the Russian Orthodox Church, and appealed for a continuation of the Orthodox-Baptist consultations on moral values.

Kirill I indicated that despite theological differences, there are a number issues on which both Baptists and Orthodox Christians in Russia agree. He expressed concerns on issues of morality, marriage and the family, as well as relativism, which tends to reject normative truth.

Upton thanked the patriarch for his firm position on the unalterable truth of the Gospel. The BWA president said that in a world in which fundamental principles are subject to erosion, the trusted biblical witness of good and evil, Christian hope and of marriage and family, must be affirmed.

Both Upton and Guderian said they hoped that conversations between Baptist and Orthodox believers in Russia would extend to a dialogue between the BWA and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Other members of the delegation at the meeting hosted at the Moscow Patriarchate were Aleksey Smirnov, president of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists; Vyacheslav Nesteruk, president of the All-Ukrainian Union of Associations of Evangelical Christians-Baptists; and Victor Krutsko, president of the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists of Belarus.

While in Moscow, Upton also participated in a number of other meetings, including the annual conference of the Euro-Asiatic Federation of Unions of Evangelical-Christians-Baptists, and the 12th National Prayer Breakfast where about 200 participants from the Christian, political and business communities attended.

Approximately 60 participants from Baptist unions of the countries of the former Soviet Union such as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Belarus, were at the Euro-Asiatic Federation meetings at the Moscow Theological Seminary. Delegates were encouraged to become more involved in the life of the Baptist community worldwide.

The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 253 conventions and unions in 130 countries and territories comprising 51 million baptized believers in 176,000 churches. For more than 100 years, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.