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Women leaders now known in Russian church, bishop says

 


Bishop Ruediger Minor

Bishop Ruediger Minor


Women leaders now known in Russian church, bishop says

Jan. 9, 2004

By United Methodist News Service*

Women in leadership have become a trademark of the United Methodist Church in Russia, according to the denomination’s bishop there.

In his report of church activities for 2003, Bishop Ruediger Minor of Moscow noted that seven of the 12 districts in his region – which also includes the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Belarus and Kirgistan – have female superintendents.

These women, along with their colleagues in local churches, are well accepted, he said, adding that "even Baptists and Pentecostals in the local settings are beginning to accept them as colleagues."

The church’s Eurasia Area now has four annual (regional) conferences, three of them under provisional status, the bishop reported. Each conference has three districts. "Each of the new conferences is developing its own character, mood and spirituality," Minor said. "We have enjoyed the new relationship with people and groups at the meetings of these annual conferences."

Last year, the Southern Conference celebrated the registration of the United Methodist Church by the Ukrainian government and welcomed the churches of Transcarpathia into the Ukraine District. The Hungarian Conference has nurtured these churches during the past 12 years.

In Kazakhstan, part of the Eastern Conference and the second largest country of the former Soviet Union, a new mission thrust lead to the foundation of two churches and two Bible study groups, according to the bishop.

With substantial support from Germany and a partner U.S. conference, the United Methodist Church in Samara dedicated a new church building. United Methodists in the region also acquired a retreat center near Voronezh, currently under renovation, which will be used both for children and youth camps and church seminars and meetings.

United Methodist Sunday School classes in Germany helped secure the property. "The whole church in the Eurasia Area is deeply grateful to the children in Germany and conferences in the U.S. for this touchable sign of love," Minor said. "It is my personal hope that this place will also become an international center for Methodist events and meetings in Eastern Europe."

Church members used the new Russian United Methodist hymnal for the first time in 2003. The hymnal has a mix of traditional evangelical hymns, Wesley-related hymns, contemporary songs by Russian pastors or members, ecumenical tunes and Russian spiritual music.

As the current president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, Minor said he hopes to continue to raise general church awareness of the Eurasia Area and the various ministry programs in Russia. At the end of 2002, Russia alone had 5,000 members and probationary members.

 News media contact: Linda Bloom· (646) 369-3759· New York· E-mail: newsdesk@umcom.org

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