Partner Church Program: The Russia Initiative
RUSSIA INITIATIVE CONSULTATION XIV: MARCH 5-7, 2009 SAN DIEGO , CALIFORNIA
THE GENERAL BOARD OF GLOBAL MINISTRIES
THE RUSSIA/EURASIA INITIATIVE
PARTNER CHURCH PROGRAM
The United Methodist Church in Eurasia
The Russia Initiative and the rebirth of Methodism in Russia began with five congregations in 1992. At the time of the Russia Initiative Consultation XV there are 111 churches and Bible groups in the Eurasia Episcopal Area. There are 110 pastors and 9 lay persons under appointment and 5 missionaries. Nineteen churches and Bible groups and 17 pastors and lay leaders are in the countries of Central Asia, which is a separate mission program. Since the last Russia Initiative Consultation XIV, there have been 15 new church and Bible group starts in the Eurasia Area.
The Russia/Eurasia Initiative includes the countries of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. The United Methodist Church in Eurasia now extends from Uzhgorod, Ukraine to Khabarovsk, Russia fulfilling the command to “Go, make disciples…”
The Russia/Eurasia Initiative, a program of the General Board of Global Ministries
The Russia/Eurasia Initiative is a program of the General Board of Global Ministries. The backbone of the Initiative is the Partner Church Program, by which US based churches provide financial and relational support to the emerging churches in Eurasia. The heart and soul of the mission is in the encouraging relationships with young and growing churches.
Who may become a Partner Church?
Partner Churches may be individual churches, districts, annual conferences, or clusters of churches joined together in a local area or from different parts of the US. Any combination possible may form a Partner Church relationship with a congregation or district in Eurasia.
What is the level of covenant commitment?
Partner Churches covenant to contribute funds for salary and program expenses to designated pastors and local United Methodist churches in Eurasia. The average level of funding needed for each church may be anywhere in the range between $6,000 and $10,000 per year. The support package provides a monthly salary and allowances for housing, health care, pension, children, and rent of worship space. The level of support for a particular Eurasian church will depend on the actual budget needs and the resources of the Eurasian churches. A Eurasian congregation can be supported by a cluster of US based churches who pool their resources in the partnership.
The annual conferences in Eurasia have developed a roadmap to be presented at the Russia Initiative Consultation XV as “The Road Ahead for UMC in Eurasia.” This vision anticipates that the local churches in Eurasia will have reached the goal of self-sufficiency in terms of pastoral salary and basic ministry expenses by 2015. The level of support needed for a particular Eurasian church will therefore relate to its progress toward self-sufficiency.
How to arrange a church partnership
Partnerships between US and Eurasian congregations are arranged through the Russia Initiative office in collaboration with the Bishop’s office in Moscow. A new “Partner Church Covenant” is introduced at the Russia Initiative Consultation XV. This instrument is provided as a guideline for formalizing a partnership with emphasis on mutuality and accountability in the relationship. Partner Churches, or clusters of churches, are encouraged to make a three year commitment to this mission. On-going relationships between the churches beyond the three year commitment often develop and are particularly effective. In a number of instances, partner churches in the US have developed funding to help their partners in Eurasia obtain buildings for permanent worship and ministry.
How financial support reaches the partner church in Eurasia
The General Board of Global Ministries receives contributions and transmits them to the appropriate conference treasurers in Moscow and Ukraine. The Eurasia UMC Treasurers distribute the funds to Eurasian pastors and churches under the guidance of the bishop and his cabinet. The Funds Transmittal Guidelines forms are provided for this purpose.
Relational support is more important than financial
As important as it is to provide financial support for the emerging churches in Eurasia, the development of encouraging relationships is even more vital. Reciprocal visits are of more benefit than one can imagine. Friendships in Christ encourage hope and form the spirit. There are many gifts in the life of faith for partner churches to share and receive.
US partner churches often collaborate together to provide teachers and organize seminars for continuing education of the Eurasian pastors on their districts and leadership training for the laity.
The level of commitment among the Eurasian pastors is extremely high and their enthusiasm is contagious. Prayers and encouragement of their brothers and sisters from their Partner Churches are vital for the ministry. Please contact us to learn more about this ministry and involve your congregation.
David McLaurin, Partnership Coordinator, The Russia/Eurasia Initiative
5437 Willis Avenue
Dallas, TX 75206