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Russia Initiative Newsletter

This occasional newsletter gives up-to-date information about the Russia Initiative, which includes the countries of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.

November 2009

To friends of the Russia Initiative, a mission program of the General Board of Global Ministries

Dear Friends,

This newsletter comes to you with warm greetings for the season of Thanksgiving and with the following items of importance:

  1. Thanksgiving and year-end gifts
  2. A new video
  3. The Eurasia UMC Roundtable

1.  Thanksgiving and year-end gifts

We give thanks to God in this season of Thanksgiving for all the prayers, messages of friendship and support that unite partners in ministry with our brothers and sisters in Eurasia.  As you give thought to year-end giving in 2009, we would thank you for any gifts to the Russia Initiative that will support pastoral salaries and ministries in Russia/Belarus and Ukraine/Moldova.  As we have indicated over the past year, the Eurasia UMC is facing a serious shortfall in pastoral salary funds in a number of local churches where partner support during 2008 and 2009 has fallen off with the economic recession.  Many support accounts for churches in Eurasia have slipped into negative balances.  In a number of cases cash flow is simply not there to pay pastoral salaries.  We would appreciate any effort to help address the urgent need with contributions to your partner church, or contributions to the Russia Initiative to be used where needed.

2.  New video, Methodism in Eurasia: A Century of Darkness and Light

A new video is now available to help interpret the United Methodist ministries in Eurasia in the context of a story that marks the 100th anniversary of the Methodist Church in Russia.  Interviews with Bishop Hans Växby and a number of church leaders focus on contemporary Russian culture and highlight representative ministries in St. Petersburg, Voronezh, Samara and Moscow.  United Methodist Communications produced the 9 minutes 40 seconds video.  It is of excellent quality and suitable for use in worship services, mission celebration events, Sunday School classes, leadership groups, annual and district conferences.  The video is placed on the The Russia Initiative website as a streaming video and as downloadable files for viewing offline in two formats for PCs and Macs:

new.gbgm-umc.org/work/initiatives/russia/

In addition, it is placed on Youtube and Facebook.

Youtube: youtube.com/user/ConnectnMission#p/u/0/ND1HrmYis7Y
Facebook: facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1154934435028#/GlobalMinistries?ref=nf

3.  The Eurasia UMC Roundtable

The Eurasia UMC Roundtable on October 14-15 in Stamford, CT, brought 34 people together to review and respond to a roadmap, "The Road Ahead for UMC in Eurasia."Some Russia Initiative partners, GBGM board directors, and staff participated together with Bishop Hans Växby and two other delegates from Eurasia.  Bishop Växby presented a shared vision from the five annual conferences in Eurasia: 

We see the United Methodist Church in 2015

  • dynamically growing,
  • recognized in the society,
  • helping people to become committed Christians

The roadmap focused on 5 specific areas of challenge that must be addressed:

  • Quality in ministry
  • Education
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Mission, evangelism, growth
  • Social service

The roundtable discussions embraced and affirmed the general directions outlined in the roadmap and developed a number of suggestions and responses in relation to the five challenges.  The Eurasia Cabinet and Administrative Council will receive the roundtable feedback and continue to develop and approve the roadmap as a guiding vision for the next six years. The Roadmap will be a document in constant development - as the road opens and as we travel on it. We expect to be able to place the first approved version on the Russia Initiative website by early January. With this vision, we anticipate that the Russia Initiative partnerships will gradually change and be redefined. We will plan to organize the next Russia Initiative Consultation in April 7-9, 2011 around the challenges and the vision of the Eurasia UMC roadmap.

We are grateful for your continuing interest and care for our brothers and sisters in Eurasia as we walk on the road ahead together with Christ.  We celebrate the vital connection that we have with one another.  We value the prayers that lift all these ministries to God for guidance and for blessing.   

Jim Athearn 

Dr. W. James Athearn
Coordinator, Russia Initiative
GENERAL BOARD OF GLOBAL MINISTRIES
The United Methodist Church

116 Frasher Drive, Clear Brook, VA 22624
Tel:  540-662-2066  Fax:  540-662-6998
jimathearn@gmail.com
new.gbgm-umc.org/work/initiatives/russia/