Baptist World Alliance, BWA News Release

Ukrainian and Russian Baptists seek common ground

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Ukrainian and Russian Baptists seek common groundRussian Baptist Union President Alexey Smirnov, left, and Ukraine counterpart Vyacheslav Nesteruk, at a meeting in Kiev on April 8

Baptist leaders in Ukraine and Russia met in April to “present a visible sign of support for the possibility of a peaceful dialogue between our churches and nations.”

The meeting took place in the wake of the collapse of the previous government in Ukraine in February in the face of widespread protests and tensions between Ukraine and Russia that threaten the possibility of war.

Vyacheslav Nesteruk, president of the All-Ukrainian Union of Associations of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (AUUAECB) and Alexey Smirnov, president of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, met at the Kiev offices of the AUUAECB on April 8.

A communique from that meeting condemned “all acts of violence and brutality against persons as well as the resolution of political problems by military means.” The leaders appealed “to all who are responsible for the future of our countries to hold firmly to the principles of freedom of conscience and confession as well as the non-interference of the state and political forces in the internal life of religious organizations.”

Baptist and other Christians in both Ukraine and Russia were encouraged “to pray for a peaceful resolution of the political confrontation between our two countries” and “to contribute to the process of forgiveness and agreement between our peoples.”

Ukrainians and Russians, Christians in particular, were “to make every effort to avoid any provocations, to retain in their hearts love for the neighbor [and] to respect his human dignity and religious beliefs.”

The leaders expressed sorrow at the loss of life that resulted from the conflicts and pledged “our sincere willingness to pray and support deeds of fraternal dialogue and the promotion of peace in the Russian and Ukrainian societies.”

Despite  what happens, Nesteruk, the Ukrainian Baptist president, and Smirnov , his Russian counterpart, said “We are ready, regardless of our circumstances, to cooperate further in proclaiming the Gospel in our own countries and throughout the world.”

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© May 2, 2014

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.