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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.

Advent and Christmas Greetings to all participants and friends of the Russia Initiative, a program of the General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church. We hope that all your celebrations, services of worship and prayers for our friends in Eurasia will work together for peace and goodwill in this season and the New Year.

This brief newsletter contains the following features:

1. A word of reminder about the Russia Initiative Consultation in February

2. Bringing an Eurasian delegation to the Consultation

3. Year end gifts for the Russia Initiative

4. Some observations on our mini consultations in November

1. Russia Initiative Consultation XII

We are hearing from many who have already registered and who are planning to attend our Consultation, February 23-25, 2006 in Falls Church, VA, near Washington D.C. We believe that this will be a wonderful event and important for shaping a vision and direction for our Russia Initiative for the next few years. We encourage you to register before December 15 if possible. You can take advantage of the early registration fee saving of $10 and it will help us considerably in our planning and arrangements. Registration forms and information may be obtained from the General Board of Global Ministries' website at:

http://gbgm-umc.org/programs/missioninitiatives/Consultations/index.cfm#russ

2. Eurasian Delegation to the Consultation

Plans for the Consultation program include leadership roles for the eleven Eurasian District Superintendents, especially in our workshops and worship services. Financial sponsorship is needed for their travel expenses. Most of the superintendents have supportive congregations that we hope will be able to assist with their travel.

We have also heard from some other congregations that would like to bring their partner pastors (other than district superintendents) to the Consultation. Usually the Eurasian pastors (and laity) will also be available to itinerate with their partner congregations. We would prefer that the Eurasian delegation members will first come to the Consultation and afterwards travel to their respective partner areas.

Time is getting short for making arrangements for these trips. Please consult with Jim Athearn (540-662-2066) and/or Vladimir Shaporenko (703-723-1307) if you wish to sponsor a member of the Eurasian delegation to the Consultation. Bishop Vaxby will want to confirm the plans to bring a pastor to the US, and travel funds will need to be sent by the "expedited" method through the General Board of Global Ministries in New York.

We also need and welcome contributions that will support the travel of some delegation members not otherwise sufficiently sponsored. Please contact us.

3. Year End Gifts to the Russia Initiative

We are most grateful for the variety of generous Russia Initiative gifts that are being sent throughout the year and as we approach year end. Supportive Congregation donations are much improved over the previous year and the New Year looks much more promising in this regard. A number of new partners have joined our mission program. If you have not yet completed your Supportive Congregation donations for 2005, please send your gifts of support as soon as possible.

4. Mini Consultation Observations

Bishop Vaxby has held 8 mini consultations and at least 12 other meetings/worship services with Russia Initiative friends, local churches and leaders during this year in a number of US cities. Most of the mini consultations have brought 50 - 75 people together. Meeting the Bishop, hearing his sense of vision, engaging in dialogue over issues related to the Russia Initiative program and meeting potential new friends for the mission have made these meetings well worth the effort. We are tentatively planning for another series of meetings in the fall of 2006.

May the good news of the Advent and Christmas season bless you with joy, hope and peace.

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

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