Ukraine (Mission Eurasia) — A groundbreaking seminar on restoring relations between Russian and Ukrainian Christian leaders took place October 29th to November 1st in Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine. This seminar, organized by Mission Eurasia’s in-country partner, the Association for Spiritual Renewal, was attended by a total of sixteen pastors from Russia, Ukraine, and the U.S.
The goal of this seminar was to develop mechanisms for reconciliation between religious communities and civil societies in both countries.
This is the first initiative of its kind since military action began in eastern Ukraine.
The seminar organizers were able to create a safe, friendly environment in which the participants could freely exchange their views and analyze the current state of relations. Russian and Ukrainian participants shared that they began to understand each other better as well as the atmosphere of the churches in their countries through the exchange of opinions at the seminar.
Wade Kusack, Mission Eurasia Director for Reconciliation, proposed that participants explore biblical principles of reconciliation, global context, and research related to the peacemaking process using the example of the Sant’ Egidio lay community, which helped end the civil war in Mozambique. Participants then developed their own recommendations for reconciliation for Christian leaders of both countries based on the material studied.
On the second day, seminar participants traveled with a team of volunteers to cities in the region that had suffered from military action. There they helped the residents who had been left behind, delivering food and Christian literature. They spent the entire day providing relief assistance, counseling, and interacting with the residents.
On the third day, participants visited a local church where prayer for reconciliation was offered. Afterwards, the final phase of the seminar took place to develop recommendations and identify next steps.
As a result of this seminar, the evangelical ministers in attendance were reconciled to one another and were also inspired to promote the ideas they learned at the seminar in their own communities. Building on this success, Mission Eurasia plans to hold another seminar, using an independent platform, and all of the participants expressed a desire to invite Christian leaders from various denominations from their communities to this next seminar.