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Russia/Eurasia Mission Initiative
After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, a number of countries, including Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova re-emerged and declared their independence. Global Ministries’ work in Russia began almost immediately after the Communist regime fell. Its primary purpose was delivering food to the Moscow region, but soon the Russia Initiative expanded beyond aid programs to include re-establishment of Methodism in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Methodism had roots in both northwest and far east regions of Russia prior to the Communist Revolution. Global Ministries designed the program on the Wesleyan holistic approach to mission, which combines both spiritual and physical nurturing.
The Eurasia Annual Conference was established in 1997, with expansion to four annual conferences in 2003 and a fifth annual conference in 2005. The United Methodist Theological Seminary in Moscow was launched in 1997.
The Russia/Eurasia Initiative is a mature mission program that is in transition from the mission initiative phase to the Global Ministries/established church partnership within the United Methodist connection.
Challenges: The vast geographic size and cultural/ethnic diversity of Eurasia have been a challenge to the mission. Another significant challenge facing the mission initiative is to develop a culture of self-sufficiency. Bishop Hans Växby (retired) said that there has been a fall into a “deep dependency trap,” with Eurasian congregations becoming too dependent on US partners.
Assets: The backbone of the mission initiative is the Partner Church Program, with US-based churches providing relational and financial support to the emerging churches in Eurasia. It is the first Global Ministries mission program based on a church-to-church partnership model that empowers local leaders and ministries.
Goals: In 2009 the United Methodist Church in Eurasia adopted a vision called “The Roadmap to 2015,” a comprehensive plan of church development and self-sufficiency by 2015. The initiative will assist the United Methodist Church in Eurasia in its various ministries, including education, mission, evangelism, and social outreach. Partner churches will be encouraged to remain engaged and their work is coordinated with the efforts of the bishop and Eurasia leadership team. A Eurasia Evangelism Academy took place in 2013.
The mission initiative is transitioning into annual conference structures within the United Methodist connection, completing the initiative phase of the program by May 16, 2015, at the Russia-Eurasia Partnership Roundtable in Moscow, Russia.
Statistics: There are 91 churches and five faith communities, with 113 pastors, four missionaries, and seven Nationals in Mission.
In Mission Together Coordinator:
Bishop Eduard Khegay
Russia is a Mission Initiative country. Learn more about Mission Initiatives and how local churches in the US are partnering with these congregations through the In Mission Together program. Share your prayers and get real time updates by joining the Facebook group page for this Mission Initiative. Visit the page and click on “Join Group” to become a part of the conversation.
An up-close perspective
Learn more about mission partnerships in Eurasia, and particularly with Russia, by reading this interview with bishop Hans Växby. The bishop, a native of Sweden and a former director at Global Ministries, recently retired after overseeing the Eurasia Episcopal Area.