Historic Forum 20. Event Looks Back to the Future

Peter Wooding,
Europe Bureau Chief for ASSIST News Service

IRPEN, UKRAINE (ANS) — As the evangelical church in the former Soviet Union is in danger of losing many of the freedoms they’ve enjoyed over the past two decades, since the fall of Communism, Russian Ministries is hosting a historic event called Forum 20 to thank God for the past era and plan for the future.

Russian Ministries, which is a catalyst in networking and introducing progressive ministry models, is initiating this strategic forum, which will take place at the Association for Spiritual Renewal Centre November 18-19 in Irpen, Ukraine.

Michael Cherenkov, Ukraine Vice-President of Russian Ministries/Association for Spiritual Renewal

“We’ve titled the event Forum 20, which ties together the history since the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991 and the history of Christian missions work throughout the Soviet Union during that time,” said Michael Cherenkov, Ukraine Vice-President of Russian Ministries/Association for Spiritual Renewal.

He added: “The idea is to analyse the past 20 years, draw conclusions and to ensure that Christian missions work can move forward positively. We want to draw conclusions and take appropriate action. First of all we want to thank God for the past 20 years of religious freedom in our country. This gift of freedom has created the opportunity to plant so many churches to grow the evangelism movement in this country. But many of the freedoms enjoyed for 20 years are coming to an end now. Freedom is being limited and so we need to thank God for the past era of freedom and prepare for the future. So Forum 20 is going to talk about the past 20 years and also 20 key and unanswered questions about Christianity in culture, politics and missions.”

Attendees at previous Russian Ministries forum

Cherenkov says that Next Generation strategists from missions, Christian education, and church leadership will be leading the forum. “We are inviting more of a younger generation of leaders, who will prepare ahead of time a high quality, thorough analysis and share that with the forum. So they won’t be heads of denominations, but more Christian intellectuals and through them we are showing our vision, that we see the future in them.

“We see in them the hope, as we hope they will carry on the baton of ministry. The goal of the forum is to show ourselves and the church and society that Christianity does have these young intelligent voices and we want to bring these new voices into the conversation. So in this way the forum corresponds to our name in Russia, which is the Association for Spiritual Renewal. We’re showing that there is renewal happening within the church and that the church does have a future. So there will be plenty of new things to look at.”

All those attending the forum will be asked to be ready to discuss the papers of speakers which will be made available to them beforehand. There will be no age limits, but the primary focus will be for the next generation, the people in the near future who will be the heads of organisations or ministries, who will be formed and moulded through this event. Russian Ministries hopes there will be people who will be in search of answers, who are in a state of formation and are open to new ideas.

“This will be an international conference. So we’ll be happy to hear from Westerners, who have participated in missions work in the Soviet Union in the last 20 years, but first and foremost it will be for nationals. The main speakers will be from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Latvia and we’re inviting participants from every Soviet Union republic.”

Cherenkov believes this forum is so important because they’re expected much great persecution of the evangelical believers in the coming years:
“The biggest concern now is the era of complete freedom we enjoyed in the former Soviet Union during the past 20 years is coming to an end now and we’ll be forced to work and serve under pressure from both authorities and from societies which are becoming increasingly orthodox and Islamic. So today we want to take advantage of the freedom that we still have, but also come up with an inspiring vision, which will enable us to work and serve in whatever freedom we have.

Cherenkov believes that a new vision for ministry will hugely impact the evangelical community during the next 20 years as it deals with many different challenges and a rapidly changing political, economic and spiritual landscape.

Cherenkov is urging support and prayer during these strategic times that could have an international impact: “Thanks for your interest in what’s going on today in the former Soviet Union. We believe that we’re here for a reason and that this region is strategic for Christ and we believe that renewal and reformation within churches here will bring blessings to the worldwide church. So we’re grateful to everyone who supports us and are ready to serve with what resources we have.”

Источник: ASSIST News Service