The 90th meeting of the Advisory Council of the Heads of Protestant Churches of Russia (KSGPCR) took place on September 16th in the Euro-Asian Division (EAD).
The Advisory Council is a platform for dialogue between the leaders of protestant Russian churches. Meetings of the KSGPCR are held four times a year at rotating churches of the participants.The participants include: Seventh-day Adventists, Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and other Protestant denominations.
The most recent meeting was held at the headquarters of the Adventist Church in the EAD. The meeting was chaired by a representative of the EAD Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, Oleg Goncharov.
The first issue on the agenda of the KSGPCR meeting was the preparation of the World Conference on Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue in May 2022 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Alexander Terentyev, chief adviser for the Office of the President of the Russian Federation for Internal Policy (Presidential Administration), spoke about the working process of preparing the conference in his speech. According to him, the conference was initiated by the UN structures and the government of the Russian Federation. It is planned to invite all the heads of the UN member states, as well as the heads of their parliaments. The total number of participants is expected to be about 4,000-4,500 people.
In Moscow, on the eve of the World Conference, it is planned to hold an International Youth Forum, at which the position of believing youth will be announced.
It is expected that taking into account the level and number of participants, the themes of the World Conference on Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue will be centered around issues that unite and bring together people from all the countries of the world.At the meeting of the KSGPCR, special attention was paid to the monitoring of religious freedom in Russia. This topic, important for all believers and churches, was raised in a number of speeches and discussions.
Goncharov made a proposal to make the discussion of this issue regular in order to update information on the state of religious freedom in Russia.
Chief Bishop of the Russian United Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals) Sergei Ryakhovsky noted a serious experience in such monitoring and legal support of religious associations at the Law Office “Slavic Legal Center”, which should be used in the future.
When discussing this issue, Anatoly Pchelintsev, an honorary lawyer of Russia and a senior partner of the Slavic Legal Center Law Office, put forward proposals for the further development of the online publication Religion and Law.
The Institute of Religion and Politics, whose head Anton Ignatenko participated in the meeting, was also invited to join the monitoring of religious freedom in Russia, which is being conducted by the SOC and the Russian Association for the Defense of Religious Freedom (RARS).
Sergei Chugunov, the lawyer of the Slavic Legal Center (SPC) bureau, spoke about the working process of preparing the All-Russian Forum “Pravo. Religion. State “in 2021. The forum is held annually; in 2020 it was held in a mixed intramural and extramural format.
In 2021, there are plans to organize a forum in a mixed format, with the in-person interaction being held at the Public Chamber of Russia. The number and proportion of direct participants will be determined based on the coronavirus restrictions as of the date of the event – December 15.
The rector of the Zaoksky University of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Chairman of the Council for Protestant Education (SPE) Boris Protasevich spoke at the meeting. He informed all that the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation registered the Association “Council for Protestant Education” on August 27, 2021. The work of the VET Association will contribute to the development of the Protestant education system in Russia and the creation of the Dissertation Council on Protestantism, which will strengthen the system of scientific research. At the moment, the Association “Council for Protestant Education” includes six Protestant educational institutions.
It is planned to introduce one more specialization, “Protestantism”, in addition to the already existing “Orthodoxy”, “Islam”, “Judaism” on the basis of the General Church postgraduate and doctoral studies of the Russian Orthodox Church.
An important stage in the development of the Protestant education system will be the creation of a master’s program (in distance and correspondence formats).
Boris Protasevich raised the issue of mutual popularization of Protestant educational institutions, offering to establish cooperation with various Protestant churches in order to disseminate information about educational opportunities.
The head of administration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia, Pastor Viktor Weber, informed the Advisory Council about the change in the concept of the Museum of Protestantism in Russia. Based on organizational optimization, it is assumed that the Spiritual and Cultural Space “Center for the History of Protestantism ” will be opened. At the moment, issues of cooperation are being worked out; an agreement has been reached with the State Museum of the History of Religion, the Cultural Center of Russian Germans in Bavaria, as well as with the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS).
A representative of the All-Union Commonwealth of Evangelical Christians spoke about the upcoming celebration of the 505th anniversary of the Reformation; Senior Pastor Dmitry Lavrov suggested that Russian Protestants celebrate the 505th anniversary of the Reformation in 2022. Emphasis was placed on the need for a wide coverage of this event, not only in religious but also in secular media.
Yuri Solenov, Executive Director of the Interregional Public Organization Union of Fathers, shared with the Council of Heads of Protestant Churches the importance of establishing Father’s Day in Russia. It is proposed to set the holiday on the 3rd or last Sunday in October. This idea, he said, found support from Anna Kuznetsova, the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights. At the moment, the Mother’s Day holiday is already celebrated at the federal level. The establishment of the Father’s Day holiday is also intended to demonstrate the key role of the father in the upbringing of the child.
Andrei Gaydamaka, head of the National Spiritual Meal Foundation, was re-elected President of the Foundation after the presentation of the new charter of the organization. In addition, the proposal was approved to include two more organizations in the founders of the Foundation, namely the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria. Amendments to the charter were announced, and a date for the National Spiritual Meal was proposed to be on November 26, 2021.