1,600 pastors gather in Moscow

( [email protected] ) Mar 25, 2004 09:29 AM EST

It's being called one of the most significant gatherings of church leaders in the former Soviet Union as more than 1,600 pastors gathered in Moscow March 18-21. The convention was held in conjunction three other conferences that addressed youth, educators and the situation in Euro-Asia.

"We had representatives from all 15 of the former Soviet bloc countries," says Dick Kelley, director of the support/equipping ministry at Slavic Gospel Association that worked in partnership with the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (UECB) to facilitate the event. "It was significant because of the breadth of the leadership that was there," he said. "It wasn't just a Russian event. In all, 21 countries were represented."

SGA spokesman Tom MacAdam said the purpose of the pastors' conference was to "gather people together for encouragement, fellowship and training and to just share with one another the challenges as well as the blessings that they have seen in their ministries in the various regions." Each UECB country leader gave a report, some telling of "incredible openness" while others spoke of increasing difficulties. "From some of the church leaders we heard there are increasing challenges and restrictions -- limits on evangelism and requirements for churches to be a certain size in order to register, or to have a building in order to be registered." In some of the Islamic nations the situation is even worse. "Pastors and church planters some are facing outright threats and persecution," MacAdam said. "One pastor was giving his report, and he stopped in the midst of his report and looked up at the crowd and said, 'Brothers, we thought we had more time.'"

Attendees also witnessed the launching of the Russian version of the John MacArthur Study Bible, culminating a four-year translation project. "This is the most extensive study Bible that has been done in Russian," Kelley said. MacArthur traveled from California to launch the study Bible and give pastors tips on ways to use this tool in their ministry. SGA handed out nearly 8,000 copies of the study Bibles during the conference.

(Source: Slavic Gospel Association)