According to press release of Christian Students Fellowship, Maidan has challenged not only the government but Church, too. Searching for answers, people are turning to the Church, but so far it hasn’t been able to give a clear reply.The society is trying to understand: is there a limit for tolerance when human rights and freedoms are brutally violated by president and parliament’s majority? How should we demand justice? How should the society react to the sudden threat of dictatorship arising after more than 20 years of independence? How should we protect our lives and future of our children in view of the current political situation in Ukraine?
The round table “Maidan and Church: Mission and Social Responsibility of Christians” took place in Kyiv on Friday, January 17, 2014. The event was initiated by the young leaders of Evangelical churches of Ukraine. Christian Students Fellowship (known as CCX in Ukraine, which is a part of IEFS, a global Christian students’ movement) jointly with the Spiritual Renewal Association and the MaidanPrayer.orgproject helped to implement the initiative.
More than a hundred people showed up, and their feedback has been resonating in social mediasince. The discussion was led by the following three groups of speakers: 1) church ministers and missiologists; 2) theologians and scholars, 3) experts and public figures. They represented the Baptist, Pentecostal, Free Evangelical, Lutheran and Reformed churches of Ukraine.
All the speakers raised a serious concern about the violence demonstrated regularly by the Ukrainian government within the last two months (all churches condemned the violent use of force by the riot police on November 30, 2013 against the students who stood up peacefully for their rights on Maidan.) The participants also convicted the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine in its illegal threats to the Greek Catholic Church. Finally, they disapproved the adoption of the anti-constitutional laws (already named “Black Thursday” by the Ukrainian people)issued on January 16, 2014.As a result,the legitimacy of the whole government has become questionable, while rights for peaceful protest – banned.
via Facebook - Cherenkov
Nevertheless, according to the opinions, the unprecedented crisis will purify both church and society. “A final ‘desovietization’ of our post-USSR society and the birth of a new generation leaders is taking place,” said pastor Oleg Magdych, Maidan’s activist.
The leaders of the Evangelical community declared their readiness to continue Christian ministry even under new wave of repression or restrictions against religious freedom. “The January laws signed by the president threat not only our society but Christian organizations, too. We shouldn't be afraid, and continue our ministry instead”, said Denis Gorenkov, CCX director.
Dr. Mykhailo Cherenkov added: “It’s the Church which is the strongest factor in our civil society today, therefore our responsibility has grown.”
“The barricades of Maidan touched my heart. I saw the birth of a new nation there. People were ready to fight for their freedom and give their lives for the sake of others,”shared Dr. Sergiy Tymchenko, and his testimony impressed many people in the room.
Oles Dmytrenko, author of the book “Corruption: a bone in the throat”, reminded the Church about its role of being“salt and light” to the world, that is, convicting sin plainly in any political context and giving a clear moral verdicton what’s truly happening to the society; at the same time – giving hope and showing the true way of salvation.
The initiative was supported by the following leaders of churches and denominations: Anatoly Kalyuzhniy (Union of Independent Evangelical Churches of Ukraine), Valery Antonyuk (Union of Baptist Churches of Ukraine), Ralph Huska (German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine), as well as by other pastors of Kyiv churches: Petro Marchenko, Mykola Ponomarev, Sergiy Tymchenko, Denis Kondyuk, Olexiy Satenko. Theologians and seminary professors made their authoritative contribution to the discussion, too; they were Petro Kovaliv, father Yuriy Chornomorets, and father Petro Balog. Respected experts and public figures – Sergiy Hula, Andrew Shekhovtsov and Oles Dmytrenko –said their word, too. Guests came not only from the capital of Ukraine, but from all over Ukraine: Kharkiv, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Lviv and other places.
At the end, the moderator Andriy Shekhovtsov, the Maidan prayer tent ministry’s coordinator, encouraged the Evangelical Christians to become more active in their mission and support the peaceful protesters by prayer, witnessing and practical help.
As the result, the Appeal to the Evangelical churches of Ukraine is being made with the purpose to lay a strong Biblical foundation for Christians to be more effective in their mission to reach out to the society at such a critical historical time for the Ukrainian nation. The appeal will be made public on Monday, Jan 20, 2014.