WinZip (Word 97)
Thousands of churches and groups of believing Evangelical Christian - Baptists in our country gather for praverful fellowship after their day’s or work to praise and thank Him Who gives life to all the creation on the earth.
This narration can give you just a slight impression of life and activity of the Evangelical Christian Baptists in the Russia.
Evangelical Christians - Baptists are scattered on the vast territory of our country. Churches of our brotherhood can be found in central regions, in the Far North, in Transcaucasia, in the Baltic region, and in the boundless lands of Siberia and the Far East.
Our brotherhood is multinational. It consists of Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Germans, Latvians, Armenians, Georgians, Ossets, Moldavians, Chuvashes, Komi, and other nationalities. Any nationality enjoys love, respect, and equal rights in our brotherhood.
Many foreign delegations and separate tourists visit our churches. As a rule, they are impressed by deep dedication of believers to Savior Jesus Christ and striving for carrying His divine teaching into everyday life.
The history of Christianity tells us that there had been Christ’s followers inany century, who held the name of the Teacher sacred and preserved His commandments in purity.
The Reformation, which took place in the 16th century, was a sign of its times. It moved almost all the people of Western Europe and opened again the source of salvation - the Holy Scripture.
Evangelical Baptist movement in Russia was a great spiritual heritage of the Radicals Reformation, which proclaimed the forgotten teaching of the Gospel on justification through faith. This movement stepped forward towards reaching the goal set by the Reformation - revival of the earty Christianity of apostolical times.
The year 1997 saw the 130th anniversary of the day when, Nikita Isaevich Voronin, who later became a well-know worker on God’s field, was baptized through faith in the rapid Kura river in Tbilisi.
August 20, 1867, when N.I. Voronin was baptized, is considered to be the beginning of the Evangelical Baptist brotherhood in our country. This beginning was very modest. More that 100 years ago believers did not strive for creating a special church, or for establishing their union, or any organization whatsoever. They just gathered for reading God’s Word and for prayer. They were especially characterized, by their commitment to Christ and the Gospel. This enabled the new movement to become a great family whose members are hard to enumerate.
The Evangelical Baptist movement is often compared with a river. And like any river which rises from tiny brooks, our brotherhood has three sources. These three sources, or, to put it in other words, three cradles of our Evangelical Baptist brotherhood, were the Ukraine, the Cacasus, and St. Peterburg. It was in these places that the Evangelical movement was born in our country.
Groups of believers, which appeared in different parts of the country, were called differently. They were called “Stundists” in the Ukraine since believers took part in Bible hours called “Bibelstunden” by Germans who lived in the Ukraine. They were called “Baptists” in the Caucasus (from the Greek word “baptizo” - “I immerse” or “baptize”). These Christians were called “Pashkovites” in St. Peterburg after the name of Pashkov, a believer who was a retired colonel and belonged to the circles of high society of the former capital.
Spiritual life began to exist in different times and in different ways in other parts of our country as well, such as Estonia, Moldavia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia. The rise of these national brotherhoods took place after 1867. But the event that took place on the night of September 22, 1861, is unforgettable for the Latvian brotherhood: pastor Adams Gertner, the founder of the Baptist movement in Latvia, performed the first baptism through faith in Latvia, having baptized 72 persons in the Ziros river.
The rise of Evangelical believers was strongly promoted by the fact that many peoples living in Russia could read the Gospel in their mother tongues at the beginning of the 19th century. The Bible Society issued books of the Holy Scripture in Russian, Polish, Georgian, Armenian, and Lithuanian.
The Russian Synodal Bible was published for the first time in 1876. People obtained the Book of life, which can be compared with the best Western European translations as far as the accuracy of the holy original’s reproduction is conserned.
As is known, ober-procurator of the Most Synod Pobedonostsev, due to his unlimited influence, had done all his best during 25 years (from 1890 till 1905) to crush so-called “sectarians” including Evangelical Christians-Baptists. Nearly all active brothers experiensed arrests, exile, and other deprivations.
Revolutionary riots, which occured in 1905, forced the Tsarist goverment to rescind the “crushing law” against Stundists, which had come into force on July 4, 1894, and proclaim the Manifesto on freedom of conscience, speech, meetings, and unions on October 17, 1905.
A number of congresses were held after this event. The publication of the magazine “Khristianin” (“Christian”) began in 1906, and the publication of the magazine “Baptist” and other Christian literature began in 1907.
However, in spite of some easing in the Lord’s cause, one should note that the Tsarist government tried to return to Pobedonostsev’s policy. This is confirmed by two circulars issued by the government in 1912 and 1913, which infringed upon the believers freedom of religion and called upon punishing all those who broke them. Needless to say that it somehow hindered the work of many members of our brotherhood.
When World War 1 was unleashed, the situation of the Russian Evangelical Baptist movement aggravated even more. The Bible school was closed. Many prayer houses were also closed. In September, 1916, all the prayer meetings were banned in Petrograd. I.S. Prokhanov, President of the Union, and all the Council of the Evangelical Christian Union were summoned to court for having established an “antistate union”. I.S. Prokhanov’s case was dropped only due to the October Revolution.
Under the new historical conditions leaders of the Evangelical brotherhood had to face new tasks, especially witness to Christ and His good news in the atheistic milieu.
Christianity has already shown to many people that the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom where the great idea of liberty, fraternity and equality will be fully realized. The task of Christianity nowdays it to give examples of the highest morality, the most selfless and unselfish love, beauty, purity and holiness of Jesus Christ to the world.
Christ calls upon His followers to show the world the virtue and beauty of the true Christianity in their faith, no matter how hard it would be for them.
In 1944 two big kindred movements of Evangelical Christians and Baptists merged into a single brotherly union to work zealously in the unity of the spirit and union of peace for glorifying our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This merger was an important unification of Evangelical believers in our country.
We are convinced that all baptists who love Lord Jesus Christ sincerely, with all their hearts, are united in the spirit even if they are not united organizationally. Our unity depends primarily on our personal attitude towards Jesus Christ. Living faith in Him and ardent love of Him and ardent love of Him make us members of His Body - the Church - and create unity among believers which cannot and must not be broken by any Christian man and woman. There is no other way to the true unity among Christians. There is only one way to unity: living faith in Christ and ardent love of Him!
Theology of Evangelical Christians-Baptists is based on the fundamental recognition of the divine authority of the Holy Scripture - the Bible.
We believe that all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments were inspired by the Holy Spirit and given by Lord as the only necessary and adequate source for the cognition of God, our salvation, and His will concerning our faith and life.
Modernist and liberal dogmatic wiews are not widely distributed in our movement. Faith in Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior, full commitment to serving Him, thirst for and happiness of prayerful fellowship, love of one’s neighbour accompany the ministry of our brotherhood.
“The folk’s soul is revealed in the song”, says a popular wisdom. This can be said about our brotherhood. Our churches are singing churches. There have been many splendid choirs, endowed singers, precentors, and composters in our churches. There exist more than, 2000 hymns that are sung in local churches. It is really a cup of burning incence before the throne of God.
Parents in our country enjoy the right to educate their children in the spirit of the Gospel and to visit worship meetings together with their children. Education of children in the love of God, brotherhood and neigbors is a right of believing parents.
All the believers of the Evangelical Baptist brotherhood pay great attention to the Bible studies.
Knowledge of God’s Word is the prerequisit of the saint and devout life that corresponds to the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The history of existence of our brotherhood is full of wonders. These wonders are visible in everything, especially in the promotion of the Gospel'’ workers by God both from the common people and the high-flown, aristocratic society.
Among the first preachers of the Gospel and selfless servants of Christ in the Ukraine were Mikhail Ratushnyi and Ivan Onishenko - serfs who learned to read and write by themselves to read the New Testament which had just appeared in Russian. Among the founders of the Evangelical movement in the Ukraine were also Efim Tsimbal and Ivan Riaboshapka.
The well-known ministers of the Baptist brotherhood in the Caucasus were V.G. Pavlov and V.V. Ivanov who devoted all their lives to God’s glory and the benefit of the His Church. One should mention D.I. Mazaev, editor of the “Baptist” magazine and eloquent preacher and spiritual writer.
Among the Gospel’s outstanding in St. Peterburg one should mention first of all the blessed preacher lord Redstoke who visited twice the old capital of Russia. His two visits laid the foundation for the spiritual revival in St. Peterburg.
One of the first St. Peterburg’s aristocrats who turned to Christ through Redstoke’s sermons and conversations was retired colonel V.A. Pashkov. Later on he became an ardent worker in the cause of the Gospel.
I.M. Korf was a magnificent Evangelical worker in St. Peterburg.
Russian Minister of railreads A.P. Bobrinskii was a fellow - champion of Pashkov and Korf in their Christian work.
I.V. Kargel worked hard in preaching the Gospel and in Christian education of the believers in St. Peterburg and many other parts of Russia. He wrote a number of Christian works and taught at the Bible courses in Leningrad.
The group of outstanding Evangelical workers of St. Peterburg and the whole of the Evangelical Baptist brotherhood included brother I.S. Prokhanov, well-known both in our country and abroad.
Such distinguished workers andinjureds for True of the Evangelical Baptist brotherhood as G.I. Shipkov, G.P. Vins, N. Odintsov, V.V. Ivanov-Klyshnikov, M. Timoshenko, Datsko, N. Khrapov, N. Baturin, Y. Grachov and others brothers.
Unlike the universal Church, which includes all the revived souls, both gone to eternity and still living on the earth, the local church consists of souls believing in Christ and having received the water baptism through faith.
The Church is Christ’s school whose task is to bring up each church member “to very height of Christ’s full stature” (Eph. 4,13) and to glorify Jesus Christ by the beauty of its pure and holy life.
Each person who has believed in Christ as his personal Savior, has reached 18 years of age, and received the water baptism may become a member of the church.
The budget of a local church is made up from voluntary gifts of believers.
The purity and perfection of local churches depend on each believer. Therefore, God’s Word calls upon all members of the church to be an example “in faith, hope, and love”.
Women, sisters continuing the great dynasty of the most blessed Martha, Mary, Tabitha and many other women zealots of faith of the Gospel zealously work in all the churches. They combine care of the family, creating comfort at home, and work in industry with work in the church.
Various divine services are performed in Evangelical Christian Baptist Churches. They include the sermon, singing, prayer, baptism of believers, Lord’s supper, etc.
Sermon is the main divine service of the New Testament Church. The good message of the salivation through Jesus Christ refreshes the joy of salvation in our hearts and leads to this joy all those who have not experienced it yet.
It is not enough to know only God’s promises to grow spiritually and to reach “very height of Christ’s full stature”. The main and necessary thing for all Christ’s followers is the knowledge of the wish of the Heavenly Father. Therefore each church must deeper cognize Christ and the power of His resurrection as the supreme revelation of God’s love of man. The constant realization of Christ’s teaching in real life is the task which should be fulfilled to provide the continuous fellowship with Christ (Acts 4,42).
An important place in our services is given to the spiritual choir and general singing. Like a sermon, a song should contain an exhortation, i. e. an admonition. The Gospel says: “Teach and instruct each other with all wisdom: Sing psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts” (Col. 3,16). Choir song of the Evangelical Baptist brotherhood are different by form and repertoire. There are some choirs that have achieved a high artistic level. We are thankful to God that He inspires many ministers of church singing to continue glorious traditions of the multinational brotherhood to sing of God’s grace and greatness.
Singers of choirs, their directors - precentors - and musicians are believers. Besides the precentor, the church superintendent is also spiritually responsible for the choir.
Christ says that the means of being filled with the Holy Spirit is the prayer (Lk. 11,13). For this reason, great attention is paid to prayer in the life and ministry of children of God. Believers continuously maintain inner prayerful relations with God.
Children of God may face many difficulties in their lives. But the prayer gives support and strength for serving God and men. Christ calls upon us to overcome any difficulties by the strenth of the prayer: “Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation” (Mt. 26,41).
The Savior Himself, when He was on the earth, continuously prayed to the Heavenly Father. He also prayed in the most difficult hour - the hour of death: “Father! In Your hands I place my spirit!” (Lk. 23,46). These words must be the last words in the life of each believer.
Another important divine service is baptism though faith. This act has a deep spiritual meaning. Receiving baptism, a believer plunges into Christ’s death, figuratively dies with Him and, leaving baptism water, he figuratively resurrects with Christ for the new life (Rom. 6,3-4).
This divine service should be preceded by the baptized’s faith and knowledge of the fundamental truths of the Gospel. That is why only grown-ups can be baptized in our churches after they received Christ though faith in their heart.
Baptism is an open witness of the baptized to his faith in Jesus Christ and the promise to God to live the new life (1 Pet. 3,21).
Lord’s supper is an obligatory commandment for those who believe according to God’s Word. By the words “do it to remember Me” Christ commanded to make Lord’s supper a constant divine service of His Church.
Wine and bread are the means of communion, i. e. contact with our crucified Lord.
As a rule, Church members who have received the holy water baptism, take part in Lord’s supper.
This commandment of Jesus Christ is carried out in local churches of Evangelical Christians-Baptists in accordance with the decision of each church; generally, Lord’s supper is observed on the first Sunday of each month.
The divine services also include the ordination to the pastor and deacon ministry, marriages, burials, etc.
We should say just a few words about ordination. Ordination is a very ancient act. It was practiced even in the Old Testament.
Ordination of a church minister is his initiation to the ministry.
The act of ordination is performed in the following way: ordained ministers impose hands on the person being ordained and make a prayer.
The following words from the Holy Scripture concerning everyday work have become the golden rule of Evangelical Christians - Baptists: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for the men” (Col. 3,23).
As a rule, each brother and sister of ours seeks to live and work at home and in industry in such a way that theier work could glorify Jesus Christ (Mt. 5,16).
The words of the Gospel: “God has called you to live in peace” (1 Cor. 7,15) - are taken by Christians-Baptists as the program of actions. Being aware that “the prayer of a good person has a powerful effect” (Jac. 5,16), our churches continuously pray to God, the Giver of true peace and perfect quietness, for establishing peace on the earth.
We believe that our prayers please God as the Gospel teaches us: “Try to be at peace with everyone, and try to live a holy life, because no one will see the Lord without it” (Heb. 12,14).