Half of the Story, Honestly Told

Review of Benjamin Goossen’s book, “Chosen Nation”

M o s c o w -- The “invention” of a Mennonite nation is one outstanding theme in Benjamin Goossen’s dissertation, “Chosen Nation. Mennonites and Germany in a Global Era”, published by Princeton University Press in June 2017. This Mennonite from Kansas with Russian-Ukrainian roots points to the fact that the theory of a Mennonite “nation” was based on the assumed existence of a Jewish one. In both cases, a religious-ethnic grouping present in many cultures was seen as part of...


A Start has been Made

On a Visit to China and the Russian Far East

Reportage M o s c o w -- Conventional wisdom would have us believe it’s the USA that deals in grand sizes and massive projects. But only in Asia can one see a railway station three avenues wide, three stories high and 420 meters long. (Not including the attached airport terminal next door.) That’s Shanghai’s Hongqiao station. The futuristic, oval-shaped Beijing station may be no less than 30 tracks wide. High-speed trains are connecting...


Why a Single Protestant Needs Two Chapels

Report on a Visit of the Russian Evangelical Alliance to the Far East

Reportage M o s c o w -- During a visit of the Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA) to the Russian Far East in mid-June, a Pentecostal pastor in Khabarovsk repeated a sad joke supposedly describing the state of Protestantism in Russia: A believer shipwrecked on an uninhabited island decided to build himself two churches. After his rescue, he was asked why a single person needed two chapels. He responded: “I always need one church to attend...


“Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump Will Yet Become Friends”

Moscow Hosts an Alternative Form of Prayer Breakfast

M o s c o w – On 16 May, an alternative form of National Prayer Breakfast was held in Moscow’s expansive “Ukraine Radisson Royal Hotel”. The more than 200 participants came from a total of 14 countries and – according to its organisers – “all corners of Russia”. Called in Russian the “Youth Business Prayer Breakfast”, its primary supporters are those dozen-or-so Russian businessmen and politicians who regularly attend Washington’s annual National Prayer Breakfast. One Russian...


Russia’s Lutheran Pietists are not Alone

Alexander Scheiermann consecrated as bishop of Siberia and the Far East

M o s c o w -- Elected on 16 October, Alexander Scheiermann was consecrated as bishop of the “Evangelical-Lutheran Church in the Urals, Siberia and Far East” (ELCUSFE) in Omsk on 23 April. Looks can be deceiving: Though representatives of the “Evangelical Church of Germany’s” (EKD) Department for External Relations usually appear in the front row at major Russian Lutheran events, the coming of the tall, soft-spoken and amiable Alexander Scheiermann to Siberia proves that...


Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Future of Russia

How anti-Western are the churches?

Commentary M o s c o w -- Russian Protestant rejection of the prohibition of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in early April appears virtually unanimous. It usually runs along the lines of the quote from the revered German church leader Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984): “When the Nazis came for the communists, I did not speak out, as I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I did not speak out, for I was not a...


Baptist Developments in Moscow

Vitaly Vlasenko Resigns as “Foreign Minister” of Russia’s Baptist Union

M o s c o w -- In mid-March, Rev. Vitaly Vlasenko resigned as the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists’ “Director for External Church Affairs”. He had held this position since 2006. One issue of controversy was financial practice, but insiders claim the reasons for his resignation are more complex than that. Some of his tasks for the Russian Union will be taken over by Sergey Belov in the Moscow office. Belov does not speak English, but...

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