|Eurasia Episcopal Area|
First Indigenous Elders in Central Asia
The Eurasia Episcopal Area has one annual conference and four provisional annual conferences. They met during May, June and July, all under the theme, “See, now is the acceptable time.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
An essential part of all five conferences was the attention given to the ongoing Road Work, needed to progress according to the Eurasian Road Map. Opportunity was given to share experience during the past year. What has given result, and why was it successful? What did not work so well, and why did it go wrong? A speed test was also made: how fast do you think you and your church are moving on the Eurasian Road? The theme of the conferences was reflected in sermons and Bible studies in the context of the Road Map. Our vision will not come true suddenly. Our goals have to be implemented step by step; the road has not been travelled “mile by mile.” Now is the perfect time to work on the road, and to move toward the realization of the vision, which remains: We see the United Methodist Church in Eurasia in 2015 dynamically growing, recognized in the society and helping people to become committed Christians
The greatest concern in all the Eurasian conferences was the struggle toward financial self-sufficiency in the local churches. The partner church support remains the same, or is decreasing, at the same time as the living costs and operating costs are increasing rapidly. Also, this year a number of pastors will only have a very small “salary” in the size of $10-100 per month. Everybody agrees that we need to take intentional steps towards self-sufficiency, but for some, the steps are dramatically steep.
The greatest thing this year was when the first two indigenous Elders in Central Asia were ordained, Alexander Mikhailov and Oleg Starodubets. At the same conference, Starodubets was appointed district superintendent for the Central Asia District. Two more, who graduated from the Seminary in Moscow, were commissioned as provisional members of the East Russian and Central Asia Provisional Annual Conference. The two first churches in Northern Kazakhstan were established in the 90s and were served by Russian pastors until recently, but indigenous leaders started to be recruited and trained in the South and neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan 9 years ago.
In the other conferences, two deacons and one elder were ordained, two were commissioned and seven new local pastors appointed. Of all fourteen, only two were over the age of 40.
Lay delegates elected to General Conference were: Vladimir Ditmar (Northwest Russia Provisional Annual Conference), Eleonora Glazyrina (Ukraine and Moldova Provisional Annual Conference), Sergey Pugachev (Central Russia Annual Conference), Nelli Shakirova (East Russia and Central Asia Provisional Annual Conference) and Olga Tselisheva (South Russia Provisional Annual Conference). Clergy delegates were: Yelena Chudinova (East Russia and Central Asia Provisional Annual Conference), Alexander Kozorezov (South Russia Provisional Annual Conference), Andrei Kim (Northwest Russia Provisional Annual Conference), Sergei Nikolayev (Central Russia Annual Conference) and Vasily Vuksta (Ukraine and Moldova Provisional Annual Conference).
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--Bishop Hans Växby