Welcome to , 03 Aug 2014
Fortnightly Report on Christianity in Former Soviet Bloc Countries,
by Dr. Robert D. Hosken
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FIRST, THE NEWS:

IS THERE A PLACE FOR THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN POST-MAIDAN UKRAINE?
from
RIA Novosti

Select to see full-size! (28 Jul) The 28th of July is celebrated in Russia as the Day of Baptism of ancient Rus (the proto-state of Eastern Slavs with the capital in Kiev). Although the original event took place in the 10th century A.D., its importance is being exalted today, as Russia is facing multiple challenges over the civil war in neighboring Ukraine, whose capital Kiev happens to be now.

On this day, the Russian Orthodox Church marks the 1026th anniversary of Kiev's residents being baptized by St. Vladimir, the Kievan prince who opted for Orthodox Christianity, the Eastern branch of Christian faith. According to the legend, St. Vladimir also visited representatives of the Roman Catholic Pope and of the Islamic religion, but he chose Constantinople, which was at the time the most civilized city in Europe and the cradle of Eastern Christianity.

In 1988, the celebrations of the 1000th anniversary of Rus's baptism marked the "rehabilitation" of the Orthodox Church in the Soviet Union, where it had faced enormous pressure from the officially atheist state until then. So, the holiday is rich in symbolism for the middle-aged generation of Orthodox believers. However, for the first time in many years the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, which unites millions of Orthodox believers in both Russia and Ukraine, was not able to travel to Kiev, the original site of that baptism.

The reason was the poor state of relations between Russia and Ukraine. Patriarch Kirill was strongly recommended not to visit the territory of Ukraine by the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture. In Ukrainian nationalist circles Patriarch Kirill is dismissed as "Putin's ally" and a carrier of anti-Ukrainian-nationalist ideology of the "Russian world" (this ideology, stressing the "spiritual unity" of Orthodox nations of the former Soviet Union became anathema to the new authorities in Kiev). [read more...]


KAZAKHSTAN: JAILINGS UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE CODE CONTINUE AS NEW CODES SIGNED
by Felix Corley and Mushfig Bayram,
Forum 18 News Service

(21 Jul) A five-day prison sentence has been imposed in an administrative case against a 22-year-old Baptist, Ramil Nizamov, for exercising his freedom of religion or belief, Forum 18 News Service has learned. This brings to 12 the number of individuals so far known to have been given such jail terms in 2014. These cases continue as President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed into law a new Code of Administrative Offences and Criminal Code, which mainly take effect on 1 January 2015.

On 8 July, Judge Aslambek Koshenov of Petropavlovsk Specialised Administrative Court imposed a five-day prison term on local Baptist Nizamov under Administrative Code Article 524. This punishes "failure to carry out court decisions" with a fine or imprisonment of between five and ten days. The 8 July verdict, seen by Forum 18, claims that imprisonment was necessary, pointing to "the influence of the appointed punishment on the correction of the offender" as well as "warning against conducting further offences, both by the offender and others."

Members of his church said, "During the hearing, our brother explained that he had not fulfilled the earlier court decision because he doesn't consider himself guilty," local Baptists told Forum 18 on 9 July, calling the punishment "unjust." Nizamov is a member of a Petropavl [Petropavlovsk] Baptist Council of Churches congregation in North Kazakhstan Region. These Baptists refuse on principle to register their congregations with the state, and are frequent targets of administrative punishment for continuing to meet for worship and share their faith without state permission. He was imprisoned for refusing to pay a fine of 92,600 Tenge, about 500 US Dollars, which is equivalent to about one month's average salary. [read more...]


RUSSIA SHOULDN'T MAKE EXCUSES TO THE USA FOR BUILDING RELATIONS OF RELIGION, SOCIETY AND STATE
from
Interfax-Religion

(31 Jul) Russia and other states have the right for their own model of relations between religion and state different from the USA and they should not make excuses for it, head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said, commenting on the recent report of the USA State Department on international religious freedom. "I"ve been reading this report for many years, and I think it becomes more and more balanced. It's good that the topic of Christians' exodus from some countries of the Middle East is mentioned, that not only countries which have political difficulties with the United States are criticized, but also their allies. However, imbalances still exist," Father Vsevolod told Interfax-Religion.

He believes this document is correct in covering anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and "the topic of the latter is voiced in the reports more and more often, but it doesn't say anything about systematic Christianophobia as a special phenomenon practiced in some countries of the West," he said. "Russia and some other countries are traditionally criticized for giving some preferences to certain religious communities and fighting against extremism. We should stop excusing for this. Certain religious communities enjoy support in our civilization as in the majority countries of the world, and actions of dangerous religious or pseudoreligious groups are eliminated," the priest said. [read more...]


UZBEKISTAN: ANOTHER JAILING, LARGE FINES FOR MEETING UPHELD, MORE CONFISCATIONS
by Mushfig Bayram,
Forum 18 News Service

(24 Jul) Igor Kulyada, a Baptist from Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent, was jailed for three days from 3 to 6 July, Forum 18 News Service has learned. His offence was to put up in public leaflets with verses from the Bible. Some of his property was ordered to be destroyed and a fine was also imposed on him. Asked why she had done this, Judge Nilufar Dadabayeva told Forum 18, "I need to ask my superiors before I can give you information." In Syrdarya Region four Baptists have been fined 50 times the minimum monthly salary, four Baptists 20 times the minimum monthly salary and one Baptist has been fined 10 times the minimum monthly salary.

The "offence" of all nine was to meet together to worship and share a meal on Palm Sunday. Protestants in the central city of Kashi have complained of an Illegal raid and house search against one of their co-believers and intrusive questioning of relatives about her. Local police officer Olim Gulomov put his phone down as soon as he heard Forum 18's name. And state confiscations of the property of Baptists in Samarkand continue to be carried out. [read more...]


PRIEST OF UOC-KP YURIY IVANOV RESCUED FROM CAPTIVITY
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(31 Jul) "A priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Yurii Ivanov, was kidnapped by terrorists in Donetsk on July 8 near his house. The priest was freed from captivity and now he is in a safe place," Archbishop Yevstratii (Zoria) wrote this on his Facebook page.

"Thank God! The priest of the UOC-KP Yuri Ivanov, previously kidnapped in Donetsk, is free, and in a safe place," he writes. Father Yurii served in the church of the Intercession of the Theotokos in Petrovsky district of Donetsk. Prior to his abduction, separatists visited him and demanded to summon Archbishop Sergius, maybe with the intention of kidnapping.


CHURCH LEADERS IN EASTERN UKRAINE SEND UP S.O.S.
from
Russian Ministries

(30 Jul) Evangelical church leaders in eastern Ukraine are calling for help. They recently released a statement detailing the ongoing persecution of believers and directed the world community to take action: "Targeted attacks have been carried out by armed militants against evangelicals," reads part of the official statement, "accompanied by abductions, beatings, torture, threats of execution, pogroms in places of prayer meetings, seizures of houses of worship, rehabilitation centers, and other places of worship."

"There is factual documentation of the capture and beating of evangelical pastors and ministers occurring in May - June 2014 in Slovyansk, Gorlovka, Donetsk and Druzhkovka. DNR and LNR terrorists not only have been preventing the religious activities of evangelical Christians, they are also taking over the houses of worship to accommodate their own staffs, hospitals and gun emplacements. These incidents have occurred repeatedly in Donetsk and Gorlovka, as well as in Slovyansk, Shakhtersk, Druzhkovka, and Torez in the Donetsk Region and in Luhansk."

"Intolerance and hostility on religious grounds are not inherent in Ukrainian society, where over 50 representatives of various faiths have peacefully coexisted and fruitfully cooperated for over 20 years. Freedom of religion is the achievement of an independent Ukraine, thanks to which inter-religious peace and harmony have been established in our country. We call upon the international community, including the monitoring missions of the UN, OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Union to make efforts to prevent the continuation and escalation of religious intolerance in the territories of Eastern Ukraine controlled by armed separatists." [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

HOW THE RUSSIA UKRAINE WAR IS BEING FOUGHT BY CHURCHES
from
World Religion News

GORLOVKA CATHEDRAL CHURCH BECOMES BOMB SHELTER
from
Interfax-Religion

A CHURCH WITHIN BRICS
from
Russian Evangelical Alliance

IN KRYLOS (ANCIENT HALYCH) FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HUNDREDS OF YEARS A BISHOP WILL BE ORDAINED
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

UOC-MP PRIESTS DELIVER BODY ARMOR TO UKRAINIAN NATIONAL GUARD
from
Religia v Ukraine

MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE'S PARISH OPENED IN THE CENTER OF MEXICO CITY
from
Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate

UKRAINE CHURCHES 'WEEPING' OVER PLANE CRASH DISASTER; DUTCH ANGER GROWING OVER TREATMENT OF BODIES
from
Christian Post

See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Our 4-week introductory online course, "Ministry to Handicapped and Poor" begins on Monday, 18 August, and registrations are due by Thursday, 14 August. Register today!

I have to wonder about the author of our first news article, IS THERE A PLACE FOR THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN POST-MAIDAN UKRAINE? - is there a place, a future for this author at RIA-Novosti? He uses the phrase "In Ukrainian nationalist circles" referring to those who dare think Ukraine is an independent nation, and clearly identifies as an anti-Ukrainian-nationalist ideology the "Russian world" ideology that is being advanced both by Russian President Putin's government and by Patriarch Kirill. It is clearly an effort to reunite all Russian-speaking people of the former Soviet Union not only in a "spiritual unity," but also into a new, expanded Russian Empire.

But there is a genuine spiritual aspect to what the article mentions, the 1026th Anniversary of the Baptism of Ancient Kievan Rus'. In A.D. 988, Kiev was the capital of the proto-Russian world, and Moscow didn't even exist yet. It wasn't until Yuri Dolgorukii ("the long-arm") founded Moscow and later conquered Kiev in A.D. 1149 that Kiev was forced to yield its leadership of Slavic Orthodox Christianity to Moscow. This fact is a sore point of Kiev toward Moscow. On the Millenium of the Baptism of Kievan Rus' in 1988, my wife Cheryl and I attended a celebration of this world-changing event at a Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Chicago, while we were still Evangelical Protestants. It took us another 20 years to become Orthodox Christians.

The news headline A CHURCH WITHIN BRICS, although its copyright doesn't allow brief quotations, is worth reading: it tells how the Russian Baptist Union has issued a statement siding with official Russian government policy against Ukrainian nationalism, using much the same inflammatory rhetoric that the government uses. One wonders if they were pressured to issue such a statement!

And lastly, I've just received a special 28-page issue of the East-West Church and Mission Report, dedicated to the recent events in Ukraine related to the various church bodies there. I have subscribed to the East-West Church and Mission Report for several years. The EWCM Report's copyright normally doesn't allow quotations, but the editor has specifically requested that subscribers pass this issue along for all to read. So here's the link: EWCM-Report-Summer-2014-22.3.pdf. This issue is also available in Russian: please email me if you would like a copy of it.


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Let's keep the comments coming! When you've finished reading, leave your COMMENTS in our Hosken-News Blog below. Thanks!


For a daily reminder to pray for the items below, go to My Daily Prayer Guide and click on the "H-N pr." link!


Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Pray for
unity of the Church in Ukraine, that it will become united under one local Ukrainian leadership.
Mon. - Intercede for Baptist Ramil Nizamov in Kazakhstan, sentenced to 5 days in prison for his religious beliefs.
Tue. - Thank the Lord that the U.S. Annual Report on International Religious Freedom is becoming more balanced.
Wed. - Pray for Igor Kulyada, a Baptist in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, who was jailed 3 days for displaying Bible verses.
Thu. - Praise God that UOC-KP priest Yurii Ivanov, kidnapped by terrorists in Donetsk on July 8, has been released.
Fri. - Pray against targeted attacks being carried out by armed militants against evangelicals in eastern Ukraine.
Sat. - Ask the Lord that we Christians will live out our calling to be saints, to be totally committed to Christ.

Select to see full-size!   Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...

  Your fellow-servants,

  Bob & Cheryl

p.s. Status: Spending money you don't have, to buy things you don't need, to impress people you don't like.


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