RUSSIA RELIGION NEWS

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Russian Methodist congregation clashes with Orthodox bishop

SMOLENSK COURT DENIES METHODIST PASTOR'S LAWSUIT AGAINST BISHOP OF VIAZEMSK
Interfax, 6 June 2008

A Smolensk court rejected the demands of the plaintiff, pastor of a local Methodist congregation, Alexander Vtorov, in his suit against Bishop of Viazemsk Ignatii for compensation for moral damages, the local diocese reported to an Interfax-Religion correspondent on Friday.

In January of this year Smolensk Methodists published on the Internet an announcement about the opening in the city of a missionary college named for Jung Song Pak. The text of the announcement reported that Jung Song Pak was "a missionary who sacrificed his life for the sake of the regeneration of Christianity in Russia at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first (in a period of great decline in the virtue and the morality of Russians)."

In connection with this Bishop Ignatii sent a letter to the Smolensk prosecutor's office calling for protection of citizens, especially youth, "from this pseudoreligious organization." The bishop expressed the opinion that the activity of a Methodist college would lead "not to the regeneration of the spiritual and moral foundations of the life of our people but to its spiritual destruction."

In response, Methodist Pastor Vtorov, on 22 February, accused Bishop Ignatii in court of propaganda of ethnic and religious hatred and supremacism, as well as of "compulsion of people to renounce Methodist convictions and join Orthodoxy."

A. Vtorov demanded recovery from the defendant for "moral harm," in his words, inflicted, first, against the Methodist congregation of Smolensk, on the order of ten million rubles, and, second, to the pastor himself, also of ten million rubles.  (tr. by PDS, posted 6 June 2008)


UNITED METHODIST PASTOR CHARGES ORTHODOX BISHOP WITH INCITING RELIGIOUS HATRED
Religiia v svetskom obshchestve

Pastor Alexander Vtorov of the United Methodist church of the city of Smolensk accused the secretary of the Smolensk diocese, a vicar of the Smolensk diocese of RPTsMP, Bishop of Viazemsk Ignatii Punin, of incitement of interreligious strife, the press service of the Slavic Legal Center reports.

The occasion for the accusation was a whole series of investigations on the part of law enforcement agencies initiated, according to the pastor's claim, by a representative of the Smolensk and Kaliningrad diocese of RPTs.

As Methodist Pastor Alexander Vtorov affirms, the persecution of his congregation began in January 2008. According to the pastor, "On 22 January 2008 Bishop of Viazemsk Ignatii planned and conducted harassment of the Methodist church, sending simultaneously an appeal to law enforcement agencies, the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, the Inspection for Affairs of Minors, police precinct, the Department of Education, the provincial Division of Internal Affairs, and the prosecutor's office, demanding they "take measures for protecting residents of our city and especially the youth from this pseudoreligious organization." In Bishop Ignatii's appeal, which was presented to the pastor at the prosecutor's office, it is stated that the occasion for the letter from the diocese was the opening of a college in the Smolensk Methodist church. Bishop Ignatii affirmed in the appeal: "It is completely obvious that the activity of this Methodist college will lead not to the regeneration of the spiritual and moral foundations of the life of our nation but to its spiritual destruction."

The appeal was followed by a series of investigations which the Methodist church calls "acts of intimidation." Actions occurred on 30 and 31 January, 4, 11, 15, and 22 February 2008. In particular, Vtorov's appeal to the commander of the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime says:  "On 30 January 2008 at 10:00 a.m. two officers of the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime of the Department of Internal Affairs for Smolensk province entered the church building without announcing the basis and occasion of their action and proclaimed their religious superiority and intentionally offended our feelings, as citizens of Russia, based upon our religious affiliation and subjected me and my wife to compulsion in determining our religious affiliation and confession of faith." On 31 January "a person from the precinct dressed in a police uniform arrived and questioned us about our religious affiliation and confession of faith, about our family status, and about the work of the church, and he recorded our answers along with his notes in his service notebook."

A letter of 3 February 2008 from the pastor of the Smolensk Methodist church regarding possible reasons for the investigations received no answer. The letter from the Smolensk diocese to Pastor Alexander Vtorov became known on 22 February. Then the pastor of the Methodist church filed suit in court against Bishop of Viazemsk Ignatii for compensation for moral damages.

A corresponding declaration was sent by the pastor also to the prosecutor's office. It noted that on the recommendation of the Department of Education of Smolensk province, materials about the opening of a Methodist Missionary College had been removed from the web site of the Smolensk Methodist curch. In addition, Pastor Alexander Vtorov described in detail the consequences of the appeal composed by the bishop of the Smolensk diocese. In the pastor's opinion, the bishop's letter contained in itself, and produced in practice, incitement of ethnic and religious enmity and hatred, national and religious supremicism, and it also was linked to compulsion to renounce Methodist convictions and to join Orthodoxy. The goals of Bishop Ignatii's appeal, according to Alexander Vtorov, was "harassment of a local religious organization, the United Methodist church of the city of Smolensk, by means of persecution by repeated investigation on the part of law enforcement agencies, the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime of the Division of Internal Affairs for Smolensk province, the Inspection for Affairs of Minors, police precinct, the Department of Education for Smolensk province, the provincial Division of Internal Affairs, and the prosecutor's office for Smolensk province, using as the occasion for persecution the plans of the local religious organization of the United Methodist church of Smolensk to created for its internal needs a missionary college."

The "Word of God" Methodist parish was created by the missionary Alexander Vtorov in 1989. On 24 December 1996 the congregation was registered as the Smolensk Methodist church. In August 2000 the annual conference of the Russian United Methodist church recognized the Smolensk "Word of God" parish as an independent "Methodist Church" of the city of Smolensk and received it as a member of the association. In connection with this, in May 2002 the Smolensk "Word of God" parish was reregistered as the "United Methodist Church" of the city of Smolensk.

In December 2002 the church acquired a wooden building for constructing a house of worship there. In the Smolensk parish there operate a children's studio (puppet theater), a youth ministry café called "Kovcheg" [Ark], a "Mothers at prayer" parenting ministry, free computer classes for city residents, and a Sunday school for children and adults. The church also planned to open a Methodist Missionary college named for Pak Jung Song, an evangelist who recently died, who participated a great deal in the life of the Methodist of Smolensk (Pak Jung Song helped acquire the building for the congregation, and he conducted active evangelistic work, despite being brutally beaten by skinheads). (tr. by PDS, posted 6 June 2008)


COURT LIQUIDATES CONGREGATION OF SMOLENSK METHODISTS BECAUSE OF SUNDAY SCHOOL ATTENDED BY FOUR PUPILS
Portal-credo.ru 27 March 2008

A Sunday school, "Our Little Hearts," which was attended by four children, became the cause of the liquidation of the Smolensk United Methodist church by a provincial court on 24 March, Pastor Alexander Vtorov reported to Forum 18.

The court agreed with the local Department for Combating Organized Crime that the Methodists violated the law by conducting "educational activity in a Sunday school without the appropriate license." Investigations of the congregation began after a complaint by a bishop of the Smolensk diocese of RPTsMP Ignatii. Originally the claims were against a missionary college planned by the Methodists, and then there arose the question of the Sunday school.

Vladimir Riakhovsky of the Slavic Legal Center, located in Moscow, is concerned that the liquidation of the Methodist congregation will increase the threat for other religious education. "Almost every religious organization has a Sunday school," he stated in an interview with Forum 18. "Do they intend to liquidate all of them?" In other places religious education without a license has already led to searches and closures of religious organizations.

The Smolensk provincial court dissolved the United Methodist church in response to a petition from the provincial prosecutor, church pastor Alexander Vtorov told Forum 18. When Forum 18 tried to phone the prosecutor Elena Sudarenkova, who is dealing with this case, the telephone was never answered.

Liquidation of a religious organization by a court means loss of the status of legal entity, and is not a complete prohibition. It ceases any public activity by Methodists as an organization, as such, for example, evangelistic activity.

According to the law on education of 1992, a license is required for conducting teaching, the prosecutor's office declared. However Pastor Vtorov insists that Sunday school is "not a place of training clergy and receiving professional religious education, but an instrument for teaching religion and for religious training of our adherents." According to the law on religions of 1997, religious instruction, in contrast to religious education, may be conducted without a license.

Attorney Riakhovsky maintains that "Our Little Hearts" is "not even a Sunday school, on the usual understanding, but a place where four children were tended to for the course of 45 minutes so that they would not bother the congregation during worship services."

"We are Methodists, and we do not wish to become Orthodox, regardless of how greatly they try to frighten us," Pastor Vtorov told Forum 18.  (tr. by PDS, posted 6 June 2008)


CASE OF LIQUIDATED SMOLENSK METHODIST CHURCH TO BE REVIEWED BY SUPREME COURT OF RUSSIAN FEDERATION
23 May 2008

A review by the Supreme Court of the Russian federation of the appeal of the civil suit of the prosecutor's office of Smolensk province for the liquidation of the United Methodist church of the city of Smolensk was scheduled for 10 June, the press service of the Slavic Legal Center reported. According to attorney Vladimir Riakhovsky, in the event the Supreme Court of Russia finds the decision of the Smolensk provincial court correct, it will create a dangerous precedent of liquidation of a religious association for elementary teaching of the basics of religion within the parameters of an informal Sunday school, since such schools operate in the majority of Orthodox parishes and other religious organizations. . . .

The law suit by the provincial prosecutor's office requesting the liquidation of the Methodist church for its Sunday school is dated 28 February 2008 and signed by the prosecutor of the province, state counselor third class Yu.V. Verkhovtsev. The prosecutor cited point 6 and point 7 of article 33 of the Russia law "On education," in accordance with which an education institution acquires the right to conduct educational activity from the moment it received a license. On the basis of points 2,3, and 4, of article 5 of the Russian law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" the prosecutor recognizes that religious associations have the right, in accordance with their charters and the legislation of RF, to create educational institutions. However at the same time the law suit emphasized that according to a letter from the Ministry of Education of RF of 4 June 1999, "On granting to religious organizations the possibility of teaching religion to children outside of the curricula in the premises of state and municipal educational institutions" the forms and methods of instruction may not  violate federal legislation in the sphere of education.

Thus, the prosecutor draws the conclusion that from the meaning of the norms of the law "On education" and the law on freedom of conscience it follows that conducting educational activity directly by a religious organization without obtaining a state license is not permitted.  The Methodist church is guilty of organizing a Sunday school, "Our Little Hearts," which does not have legal existence or a license. Children from ages 4 to 14 study in the school and they are taught by teachers on a volunteer basis. The law suits points to evidence of the educational process: a pastor's notebook, containing names of pupils, teaching materials, and notes about the acquisition of knowledge at classes in Christianity. Prosecutor Verkhovtsev notes that the textbook resources, "Bible in Pictures" and "Book of Life" do not contain information about who confirmed them and permitted their use as resources in the educational process. . . .

In the opinion of Pastor Alexander Vtorov, the suit for the liquidation of the Methodist church was the response of the prosecutor to an appeal by a vicar bishop of the Smolensk and Kaliningrad diocese of RPTsMP, Ignatii, with regard to the necessity of investigation of the Methodist church. According to Vtorov, the prosecutor also rushed to liquidate the church because on 22 February the pastor filed a suit in court against Bishop Ignatii. . . .(tr. by PDS, posted 6 June 2008)

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Outbreak of desecration of graves

FLAMES IN THE CHURCHYARD.
New wave of cemetery vandalism overflows Russia
RPTsMP blames Satanist youth

by Mikhail Belyi, Svetlana Kamyshina
Novye izvestiia, 5 June 2008

Residents of Penza are upset about a crime committed in the night of 2 June. At the Mironosits cemetery unknown persons made a bonfire of funeral wreaths at a monument to soldiers who perished in the Great Patriotic War. In the last few days cemetery vandals have suddenly become active in a number of regions of Russia: in Bashkiria, Evenka, Sverdlovsk province, Nizhny Novgorod, and St. Petersburg.  The vandals have various motives, from national intolerance to elementary hooliganism. At the same time, rights advocates are inclined to consider such cases will be repeated again and again, since neither the police nor cemetery security have the resources to keep the graves under constant guard.

Residents of Penza cannot recall anything like this:  unknown persons appear at night in the city cemetery where they throw wreaths into a heap and build a bonfire at the monument to fallen troops. Reports of the incidents reach police long after the miscreants have disappeared.  They perform the orgy in the dead of night. It is known only that the crime was committed by young people dressed in black jackets. At the present time police are conducting an investigation of this case. Experts, in their turn, are evaluating the possibility of restoring the monument; it was seriously damaged by the flame.

In recent days there has been an outburst of cemetery vandalism in Russia. In the capital of Bashkiria, unknown persons in the Demsk cemetery broke crosses on the graves of St. Moses of Ufa and three other clergymen, broke tombstones, and painted them with black felt markers. This happened on the eve of St. Moses' commemoration day. The Ufa diocese of the RPTs issued a statement that says that this may be the work of the hands of young satanists; on one of the cemetery signs an inscription was left with the names of an "explicitly satanist" rock group and corresponding symbols. Several months earlier similar inscriptions were drawn on the wall of the cemetery security building. The diocese suggests that "satanists frequently have gathered in the Demsk cemetery, but this has, for some reason, been ignored by the administration and the security of the cemetery."

In Sverdlovsk province, a vandal suddenly destroyed ten monuments in one of the local cemeteries. After his arrest he stated that he did the crime in an unconscious condition. In Evenka three youths went to a cemetery over the course of several days and upset grave markers and ripped photographs of the deceased. In Chuvashia recently at an old cemetery in the region of the botanical garden unknown persons knocked over 28 monuments and set fire to several crosses. A criminal case was opened for an incident of desecration of nine graves in the Jewish section of the "Marina grove" cemetery in Nizhny Novgorod, including the tomb of the former rabbi of Nizhny Novgorod, Judah Bernstein. Several days before this nine Muslim graves were desecrated in the Novosormov cemetery. In May, in Ulan-Ude, more than 300 gravestones were overturned and broken. Dozens of graves were broken into by vandals in Peterhof.

Rights defenders and public figures are inclined to think that law enforcement agencies cannot deal with this problem by themselves. In addition, this is a matter that is not merely criminal but also moral.  (tr. by PDS, posted 6 June 2008)

Russian original posted on Portal-credo.ru, 6 June 2008

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Ukrainian president wants united church

MOSCOW CALLS KIEV TO AVOID UNILATERAL STEPS IN THE CHURCH QUESTION
Portal-credo.ru, 6 June 2008

Commenting for journalists on the results of a meeting of the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Moscow has called for avoidance of unilateral steps in the church question. This was reported by RIA Novosti.

According to Lavrov, Dmitry Medvedev and Viktor Yushchenko discussed the upcoming jubilee of the baptism of Kievan Rus as well as the idea supported by Yushchenko of the creation of a single local Orthodox church in Ukraine that would lose canonical connections with the Moscow patriarchate.

"It is necessary to avoid unilateral steps, especially in relations among churches," Lavrov said.

He emphasized that it is necessary to be very cautious in solving such questions. "We think that this idea has been heard," the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The church question is one of the most acute in Ukraine. Constantinople considers the separation of the Kievan metropolia from the ecumenical patriarchate in 1686 and its unification with the Moscow patriarchate to have been illegal. The president of Ukraine has advocated the creation of a united local Orthodox church in Ukraine. At a meeting on 20 May with a delegation of the ecumenical patriarchate he reported that the Ukrainian Orthodox church intends to return to the bosom of the Constantinople patriarchate. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 June 2008)

VIKTOR YUSHCHENKO AND DMITRY MEDVEDEV DISCUSS SPECIFICS OF UPCOMING CELEBRATION OF 1020TH ANNIVERSARY OF BAPTISM OF RUS
Religiia i SMI, 7 June 2008

Dmitry Medvedev warned Ukrainian authorities against unilateral steps in relations between the countries and also recalled the importance of respect for believers' feelings.

At conversations between Dmitry Medvedev and Viktor Yushchenko in St. Petersburg on Friday the topic of the 1020th anniversary of the baptism of Rus was brought up, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reported.

He said that processes which now are under way in Ukraine for the creation of a united Ukrainian Orthodox church are not shared by Russia.

"Our position is simple:  it is necessary to avoid unilateral steps in relations between the countries and especially in such a sphere as the relations between churches. Within the parameters of Orthodoxy there is agreement about canonical territories and it is necessary to deal with this extremely cautiously, because this problem affects the feelings of believers," the head of Russia's foreign policy establishment declared. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 June 2008)


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Russian Orthodox reject interconfessional worship

MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE CONFIRMS INTENTION TO REFRAIN FROM PARTICIPATION IN JOINT SERVICES WITH NONORTHODOX
Portal-credo.ru, 12 May 2008

Once again it has been asserted in the Russian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate that they do not consider it possible for Orthodox persons to perform divine services jointly with representatives of other Christian confessions.

"We wish to affirm once again our intention to refrain from participation in joint worship with persons of other confessions," a worker in the Secretariat for Inter-Christian Relations of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, the priest Alexander Vasiutin, told the "Interfax-Religion" portal.

He said that this matter has acquired new pertinence in the process of preparing for the XIII General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches which is scheduled for July 2009 in Lyons (France).

The news agency's interlocutor, who also is a member of the assembly's organizing committee, noted that "the position of the Russian Orthodox church, unfortunately, does not always meet with understanding among representatives of other local Orthodox churches."

As an example, Fr Alexander told how at a recent session of the organizing committee Metropolitan of Gaul Emmanuel (Constantinople patriarchate) responded to the suggestion of refraining from performing interconfessional worship at the assembly by saying that "the position of representatives of the Moscow patriarchate on this matter reminds one of the behavior of a man who has a wife but doesn't sleep with her."

In addition, the representative of Constantinople posed the question, "why do representatives of the Moscow patriarchate always refuse to participate in joint worship with non-Orthodox, while Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus participated in joint worship with Catholic clergy in the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris when he was there?"

"There is no need to repeat the information disseminated by many church and secular news media that in reality an Orthodox prayer service was conducted in the Paris Notre Dame cathedral at which representatives of the Roman Catholic church were merely present, including Archbishop of Paris André Vingt-Trois. But one cannot speak of any joint service or worship in this case," Fr Alexander stressed. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 June 2008)

MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE HOPES ROMANIAN CHURCH WILL GIVE REASONABLE EXPLANATION REGARDING ROMANIAN METROPOLITAN'S TAKING COMMUNION WITH CATHOLICS
Portal-credo.ru, 30 May 2008

"Information about the Romanian Orthodox metropolitan's taking communion at a Catholic liturgy has become a sensation for journalists, but for Orthodox believers it is a source of misunderstanding and confusion. We have recently received many questions, including from clergy and believers of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Everyone is perplexed; could this really have happened that an Orthodox bishop of such a high rank publicly violated canonical norms and ecclesiastical discipline? One doesn't want to believe it, but the published photographs have made a strong impression. We hope that more reasonable explanations will follow from representatives of the Romanian Orthodox church," a secretary for inter-Orthodox relations of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, stated on 29 May.

We recall that according to a report of the press service of the Greek Catholic church of Romania, on 25 May in the Romanian city of Timisoara, Orthodox Metropolitan of Banat Nicolae Corneanu participated in the consecration of a Greek Catholic church. It has been established that in the course of the liturgy "a miracle happened." Corneanu went up to the altar and asked permission to take communion, after which he did so. The report from the press service of the Greek Catholic church of Romania noted that this was the first such case of communion of an Orthodox clergyman along with Catholics since 1700.

In its turn, the press service of the Romanian Orthodox church issued a statement on this matter in which, specifically, is noted that "The Romanian patriarchate does not possess specific and reliable information confirming this event. At the next session of the synod of the Romanian church, which will be held at the beginning of July 2008, Metropolitan Nikolai may be asked for appropriate explanations in connection with this incident.

The Romanian patriarchate also stated that the current dialogue of the Orthodox church with the Roman Catholic church is rather fragile, even without this, and it cannot be improved but only complicated by such gestures, the news agency Regnum reports.  (tr. by PDS, posted 6 June 2008)

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Protestant leaders object to teaching Orthodoxy in public schools

HEADS OF LARGEST PROTESTANT CONGREGATIONS OF VORONEZH PROVINCE ANNOUNCE "UNDESIRABLE CONSEQUENCES" OF INTRODUCING FOUNDATIONS OF ORTHODOX CULTURE INTO SCHOOLS.
Portal-credo.ru, 2 June 2008

Leaders of the four largest protestant associations of Voronezh province—The Russian Union of Evangelical Christians Baptists (RSEKhB), senior pastor Peter Mirechik, the Church of Seventh-day Adventists (TsASD), Bishop Nikolai Ostrovsky, the Association of Missions of Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals) (KhVE(P), Senior Bishop Boris Sinebabnov and Bishop Andrei Bashmakov, and the Russian Associated Methodist Church (ROMTs), Senior Pastor for the Central Chernozem region, Igor Volovodov—signed on 2 June an open letter to the plenipotentiary for human rights of the Russian federation, the Public Chamber of Voronezh province, the Public Interconfessional Consultative Council of the Voronezh regional duma, the Chief Administration of Education of Voronezh province, the governor of Voronezh province, and the Voronezh diocesan administration of RPTsMP, expressing their negative opinion of the full scale introduction of "Foundations of Orthodox Culture" (OPK) into the schools of Russia, a Portal-credo.ru correspondent reports.

The leaders of religious organizations who signed the open letter are members of the Pastoral Council of Voronezh province.

In the beginning of the letter the members of the Pastoral Council observe "a positive tendency in the development of interconfessional harmony in Voronezh and Voronezh province," which, as they write, "facilitates the activity of the Interconfessional Council of the regional duma under the leadership of A.F. Dubikov."

The activity of the Interconfessional Council of the region, in the opinion of the authors of the document, facilitates a dialogue "between evangelical Christian confessions and the leading Christian confession of Russia, the Russian Orthodox church, as well as representatives of other confessions, . . . the development of mutual understanding, . . . and social stability and harmony."

Along with this, "thinking about ways of improved ministry to people," the Pastoral Council expresses concern in connection with the introduction of OPK into the system of general education.  Among the "undesirable consequences" of this process the authors of the document specify the formation of representations about the "alien nature" for Russian culture of representatives of other confessions; information about the cultural diversity of confessions; division of the younger generation into "ours" and "theirs" with respect to confessional identification; destabilization of social life; hostility of the regions of Russia on the basis of confessions;  and intrusion of "the Church of Christ itself, not just the Orthodox church, into political processes." As one of the consequences of the introduction of OPK, the believers point to the formation of a negative attitude on the part of children toward the church.

At the same time, the Council of Christian Protestant churches of Voronezh province expresses its adherence to the constitutional principles of separation of church and state, equality of the rights of believers before the law, and the neutrality of the system of education in religious matters.  "Schools of general education," in the opinion of the writers of the document, "must guarantee a knowledge of the history of religion within the parameters of the study of history, without giving preference to any particular confession."

The protestant leaders expressed the hope that "the state will recognize and value the contribution that Christian protestant churches have made along with the leading confession of Russia, the Russian Orthodox church, in creating a healthy society, freed from nationalism and religious chauvinism and professing Christian moral values.  (tr. by PDS, posted 5 June 2008)

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Ukrainian charismatic church wishes for real freedom of conscience

NIGERIAN PREACHER POSES "CHALLENGES" TO UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
Interfax, 5 June 2008

The leader of the charismatic sect "Embassy of God," the Nigerian Sunday Adelaja, thinks that the activity of his organization serves as a stimulus for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, "Interfax-Religion" reports.

"I think that the presence here of such a church as the "Embassy of God" enlivens the Orthodox church so that it will be more engaged in direct work with people and the regeneration of the human soul, rather than in business or politics," the press service of the Ukrainian church quotes S. Adelaja, citing the website "LiGABiznesinform."

Responding to a question whether the "Embassy of God" competes with Ukrainian Orthodoxy, the pastor noted that his church rather "poses challenges, but it does not compete."

S. Adelaja thinks also that "so long as there is a Ukrainian nation, there will be a Ukrainian Orthodox church."

If the charismatic leader were asked to head up the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Ukraine, then, he says, he would summon to his office a team of Orthodox metropolitans and representatives of other religions. "If one could propose such a scenario, which, in my opinion, is impossible, then I would first try to make all religions equal so that there would really be freedom of conscience in this country," Adelaja specified.

The "Embassy of God" is one of the charismatic sects that has recently become widespread in Ukraine. At the meetings of its adepts, representatives of this organization use mass hypnosis, trying to raise in people an elevated condition which is accompanied by hysteria and ecstasy, which they perceive to be a manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Before his election to the post of Kiev city leader, the current mayor of the Ukrainian capital, Leonid Chernovetsky, also was a pastor in this organization. (tr. by PDS, posted 5 June 2008)

WEB-CONFERENCE WITH PASTOR ADELAJA ADDRESSES CHURCH’S ROLE IN UKRAINIAN POLITICS
Religious Information Service of Ukraine, 5 June 2008

Pastor Sunday Adelaja was the guest participant in an internet-conference held at liga.net’s press center in Kyiv. Questions for the church leader included: How did the Embassy of God became the largest Charismatic Church in Europe in the past 14 years? How did Chernovetskyi win the elections for mayor again? Why and to what extent is the Embassy of God Church active in the public and political life of Kyiv? RISU’s Ukrainian-language webpage posted this story on 3 May 2008.

“The Embassy of God is not just a dogmatic Church,” explained Adelaja. “It is, first of all, a place of education, wisdom, and understanding, all of which elevate people and make them fit for life. Parishoners are educated enough that they can solve even public and political issues.”

Conference participants were concerned about the combination of “church” and “state,” specifically asking if it did not contradict the Bible. “Politics cannot contradict the Bible, as God created politics in the same way he created all things visible or invisible to glorify Him,” answered the pastor.

Adelaja had only positive things to say about the major of Kyiv, Leonid Chernovetskyi: “He assumed office as a rich man. He could not decline the salary, but instead his salary is contributed to a fund for low-income groups of Kyiv. May God grant that all our politicians become like this.” When asked about the recipe for Chernovetskyi’s success, Adelaja said: “There is no secret here. First, one should become a truly believing person who reads the Bible and attends Church. Second, it is necessary to show that you love people and act accordingly. This way, everyone will be able to see the image of Christ in you. There will be no need to campaign; people will simply elect you.”  (posted 6 June 2008)


Related article:  "Communists prefer Orthodox mayor of Kiev ,"  October 26, 2007


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