New EEA Member: Russian Evangelical Alliance

  • In NEWS
  • October 24, 2016
New EEA Member: Russian Evangelical Alliance
At the members meeting during the annual conference in Colares/Portugal, the Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA) was accepted as a full member of the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA). The first contacts to promoters of the idea of Evangelical Alliance in Russia goes back 142 years. Britain’s Granville Waldegrave (1833-1913), better known as Baron (or Lord) Radstock, who had spent time as an evangelist in St. Petersburg 1874-78, was a member of the 1846-founded World Evangelical Alliance. In Southern Russia the Mennonite leader Johann Wieler invited 1882 all evangelical denominations to a conference in Rückenau to form a unified evangelical movement. The same attempt was repeated 1884 in St. Petersburg. Unity was not achieved. In 1896, the Evangelical Christian leader Ivan S. Prokhanov (1869-1935) attended the EEA’s 50th-anniversary celebrations in London. Thanks to the work of Prokhanov, a “Russian Evangelical Union” achieved state registration in 1906. Yet due do the lack of internal agreement among evangelicals, the organisation was only granted a short life. The next attempt began with the refounding of a Russian Alliance in April 2003 by 145 delegates from Russia’s largest Protestant denominations and organisations. This year, Russia’s Christians have been commemorating the 140th anniversary of the publication of the Russian Synodal Bible (comparable to the Anglo world’s King James Version). The REA too sees its roots in the Russia’s evangelical movement of the 19th century. The Russian delegation of five people was led by Sergey Vdovin, General Secretary of the REA. He stated: “It was high time for the Russian EA to join the European EA. This will give a boost to the development of the REA.” One of the Russians in Colares was Vitaly Vlasenko, Director of External Relations for the Moscow-based Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. Vlasenko stressed: “I believe this a very significant and positive development for the Russian Alliance. Early in the 18th century, Tsar Peter the Great had reached out the hand of friendship to the countries of Western Europe. We understand ourselves very much in that tradition. We strongly favour peace and cooperation, and we from the Russian Alliance stand for the close collaboration of evangelical churches throughout Europe.” In attendance in Portugal were also REA’s president, the Baptist Alexander Fedichkin. All of the Russian guests in Portugal are from Moscow. Thomas Bucher, General Secretary of the EEA welcomed the Russian EA warmly with the words: “There is a significant number of Evangelicals in Russia. Eastern Europe needs to have a voice in the EEA. It will be strengthened considerably through this.” He further said: “The political tensions between Russia and many other European states are well known. Therefore, this move will build bridges and is hopefully a contribution for peace and reconciliation. This is especially important for the relations between Russia and the Ukraine. I hope that within the next twelve months the Ukrainian Evangelicals will form a representative body which will also join the EEA.”

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