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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Baptist leader impressed with Ukrainian Baptist organization, structure and commitment to Evangelism and Social Ministry

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. (ANS) -- A top Baptist leader has visited the country of Ukraine during the month of March and was impressed with the organizational structure and commitment of Ukrainian Baptists to evangelism and social ministry.

Neville Callam of the BWA
(BWA Photo)

According to a media release, Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam, visited Ukraine March 25-31. During that time, Callam preached at three churches, including the Central Baptist Church in Kiev, Ukraineís capital; brought greetings and addresses at several meetings, including a youth celebration event; and met with leaders of the All-Ukrainian Union of Churches of Evangelical Christian Baptists (AUCECB).

Callam said he was impressed with the commitment of Ukrainian Baptists to evangelism and social ministry, such as a ministry to drug addicts, and by the structure of the AUCECB.

The BWA news release says Callam described the structure of the union, its associations, and churches as 'well coordinated,' noting that 'the association structure replicates the national structure,' and that 'each church is structured the same.'

For example, each congregation, and each of the 25 regional associations, has a director of evangelism, the news release says.

The news release also states: "When meetings are held, evangelism directors from the different churches meet at the associational level. Nationally, the directors of evangelism from each association meet together to make and execute evangelism plans. In this way, the evangelism work in the country is well organized and coordinated as there is a 'clearly defined focus of work.'"

Callam observed that there was 'high church attendance and professionalization of the music ministry' at the worship services and the AUCECB events in which he participated.

While in Ukraine, the BWA Callam toured the construction site of the largest Baptist church in Kiev. Callam also visited with Oleksandr Turchynov, a Baptist layman and the First Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine. The BWA says Callam commended Turchynov, who was Acting Prime Minister as the nationís Prime Minister was out of the country at the time, on the level of religious freedom that is enjoyed in the country. Callam also met with Pavlo Unguyran, a member of the Ukrainian parliament who is chair of the Euro-Asian Baptist Federation Youth Committee.

According to the BWA, Ukraine has one of the largest Baptist memberships in Europe. The AUCECB has more than 2,800 churches and church plants and more than 135,000 members. The Brotherhood of Independent Baptist Churches and Ministries of Ukraine has approximately 130 churches and more than 11,000 baptized believers.

** Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent of ANS, is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a British Christian radio station. Michael has traveled to Albania and the former Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany and the former Czechoslovakia, Israel,and Canada. He has reported for ANS from Jordan, China, Russia, Jamaica, Mexico, and Nicaragua. Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- Michael Ireland Media Missionary (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International.

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