At the invitation of the All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists Churches (AUC ECB), and its First Vice President, the Rev. Igor Bandura, Dr Anthony R. Cross visited Kiev and the headquarters of the Baptist Union in the nearby city of Irpin. Addressing members of the AUC ECB council and the leaders of the Ukrainian Baptist educational institutions Dr Cross explored themes from his three most recent monographs: Recovering the Evangelical Sacrament: Baptisma Semper Reformandum (2013); “To communicate simply you must understand profoundly”: Preparation for Ministry among British Baptists (2016); and Useful Learning: Neglected Means of Grace in the Reception of the Evangelical Revival among English Particular Baptists (2017).
One of the papers Dr Cross delivered will be translated and published in the journal Theological Reflections: Euro-Asian Journal of Theology, as will an interview conducted by Oleksandr Geychenko, a Professor at Odessa Theological Seminary. Dr Cross also presented a paper at an ecumenical day conference at Dragomanov University, Kiev, on ‘Crucial Issues of Contemporary Theology: Recent Trends in the Development of Liturgical Theology’, organized by the Rev. Dr Sergiy Sannikov, a lecturer at the Odessa Baptist Seminary, a former member of the Board of Trustees of IBTSC, and also a member of the Executive Committee of the EBF. With the participation of Dr Sannikov and other Ukrainian Baptists in attendance, the day conference was yet another opportunity which showed the breadth and depth of Baptist theology, commitment to unity, liturgy, and dialogue, and is a timely reminder that there are many such opportunities for productive ecumenical engagement if we have the vision to share in them.
As of 1 January 2018 there were 2,600 churches and groups, 320 church plants, over 110,000 members in the AUC ECB, with weekly worship attendance of around 200,000. The AUC ECB is served by six seminaries, four institutes, and eleven regional colleges. Dr Cross reports that here there are great opportunities for Baptist churches, colleges and seminaries in the West to seize, not only for prayer, but to foster and develop links with Ukrainian Baptists as a genuinely and fruitful two-way reciprocal relationship which will further build Christ’s church and the spread of the gospel.
Reflecting on his visit Dr Cross encourages prayer for the seminaries and colleges in the development and spread of reflection on theology and practice in dialogue with the global Baptist community as well as for the situation in the East of Ukraine, for the churches in uncontrolled territories which are required to register according to new regulations set in place and the relief aid to refugees and people in need in the occupied territory.
A more detailed report on the visit is available http://www.ibts.eu/newsletters/