History of UMC in eurasia
You can learn more in details about Russia United Methodist Church through visiting our congregations, and also through the book “Russia United Methodist Church”.
Below there are some passages from the book “Russia United Methodist Church”.
Russia United Methodist Church…
Familiar to so many words are in such an unusual combination.
The end of XIX century…
In our restless time, when all unfamiliar frighten away, let us take a look at this name in order to see beginnings of the Methodism in Russia…
Uneasy for our country time, contradictive and perturbed, full of hopes and expectations. And then to small Swedish congregation of Saint-Petersburg from Sweden came pastor Carl Lindborg. It was in 1882, and in 1889 in Saint-Petersburg first Russian Methodist congregation was established. People who served there were mostly from Sweden and Finland. It was still far to the day when the Methodist Church was officially recognized…
The April of 1905 had brought changes in the life of protestants, including Methodists. “The manifest about toleration” was published in Russia. This document allowed Methodists to work more freely.
In 1906 pastor Hialmar F. Salmi, who was born in Saint-Petersburg, received official appointment to the ministry. He had a theological education, spoke Russian very well, could speak Finish and Swedish languages. All these served as а new impulse of the development of the Methodism in Saint-Petersburg and in the region. In March of 1907 he received official permission from the state for public work of the Methodist Сhurch.
In October of the same year the American missionary George A. Simons joined him. He became the pastor of Finish and Peterburg’s Mission of the Methodist Church. These two people had formed a new direction of the Methodism development in Russia. Under the guidance of George Simons the intensive publishing of periodical editions of thу Methodist Church: “Methodism in Russia” (in English) and magazine “Christian Defender” . Also some Methodist publishing editions: “Canonical catechizes”, “Doctrines and disciplines of the Methodist Episcopal church”, “Methodists: who they are and what they want”. Also the brochure of John Wesley “Character of Methodist” was published.
Saint-Petersburg’s magazine “Christian Defender” – is the first publishing organ of the Methodist Church. It was consisted of 10 sheets and from January 1909 it was published monthly in Russian language. Its yearly edition had reached 15 thousand copies. Notable that copies of this magazine still kept in annals of Russia national library of city Saint-Petersburg! Turning over the pages of this magazine we can learn about how worship services of first Methodists in Russia were held, in what they believed, how they saw their mission in the society; to feel hardships and joys of their daily service to people.
The life of first Russian Methodists was very full. On Sundays they held worship services in 6 (!) languages: Russian, German, English, Swedish, Finish and Estonian. They had Sunday school for children. Throughout whole week Bible studies for adults in different languages were held.
The year 1909 became significant for the history of Russian Methodism for one more reason – in this year the Methodist Episcopal Church in Russia was registered officially. It received the name “First Peterburg’s Methodist Episcopal Church”. The congregation united 132 people of 9 nationalities under the guidance of the pastor D.A. Simons. In the house # 37 tenth line of Vasilievskiy Iceland, in rented place, there were daily meetings that attracted city inhabitants.
By 1910 the Methodist congregation had about 500 constant members of different nationalities already.
Apparently such a quick spreading of Methodism was stimulated by priority spheres of their functioning:
– Social help
– Missionary work
First Methodist of Russia kept these three features that characterize Methodism of any country and their followers had carried it to the present days.
From the very beginning care about poor, sick and those who needed help was an important part of their ministry. So in September of 1908 in house # 44 in the third line of Vasilievskiy Iceland during the time of epidemic cholera the congregation of deacons “Bethany” with the head of their mentor Anna Aklund started to function. Archimandrite Augustine (Nikitin) of Saint-Petersburg witnessed that the opening of this congregation became a newsmaker in the life of Northern capital. Today one of the United Methodist Churches in Leningradskaia area has the name “Bethany”.
First Russian Methodists paid special attention to missionary work. The testimony of that is that being a very small congregation they gathered 175 rubles for missionary work in China and city Mariinsk.
To the fast growth of Methodist congregations contributed Bible studies where people independently studied Bible under the leadership of experienced ministers.
In January of 1911 in city Kovno (it was the name of city Kaunas until 1917) Methodist prayer house was opened and in July of 1912 the first meeting of Russia mission district was held. From that time the Russia mission became the independent branch of the Methodist Episcopal Church. On that moment in the northern part o of Russia were 13 preachers, 15 Methodist congregations, 9 Sunday schools (where studied more than 700 children), 2 chapels and two prayer houses that were in the process of building. First Russian preachers appeared – A.I. Ivanov and N.P. Smorodin.
In 1914 in Saint-Petersburg on Bolshoi prospect, house # 58 the building was bought. On that place on March 1, 1915 the Methodist church was consecrated. Here also was located the Methodist Central Bureau in Russia and editorial office of “Christian Defender”.
Methodism was spreading in other regions of Russia. In the fall of 1921 the building of the Methodist church in Vladivostok was consecrated. In the city Nikolsk-Ussuriisk by the church schools for boys and girls were opened.
The Methodist congregations in Latvia and Estonia started to function. In 1906 in Lithuania first church was officially registered.
So, from two different sides – form the West and from the East – the spreading of Methodism in Russia had started.
The revolution changed the destiny of our country dramatically.
On December 25, 1931 because of the started persecution from the side of new power the church that was located on Bolshoi prospect, house # 58, stopped to function.
Unfortunately there is no copies of “Christian Defender” after 1917, so the information about Methodism of that time are fragmentary. The Nikolsk church in the city of Ussuriisk was erased. But what is remarkable, today in the city of Ussuriisk there are few Methodist congregations and among them there is the church “Hikolskaia” – heiress of that first church.
In 1924 the publishing house of “Christian Defender” published the book “Ritual of the Methodist Episcopal Church” in city Viborg. Published in Russian language it was consisted of following sections: “Sacrament of baptism”, “Sacrament of the Holy Communion”, “Accepting to the congregation new members”, “Wedding”, “Funeral”, “Dedication and ordination”, “Laying and consecration of the church”, “Worship service”.
In 1935 the Estonian Methodist Church received the status of the independent church. For the period from 1943 till 1973, after Estonia formed the part of the USSR, the Methodist congregations had grown from 1242 people to 2300. In 1991 Union republics received independence, but Methodist churches in those countries continue their existence up to this day.
After the fall of Soviet regime, in the border of 80s -90s, in spite of all difficulties, development of the Methodist Church in Russia continued with new strength. This time it happened because of missionaries from United States of America, Germany, Korea and Liberia. It was Cristina Hena, Yong Chol Cho and Susanna Cho, William and Grace Wornok, Tom and Nancy Hoffman, Terence and Evelyn Erbely, Son Le Kim, Gerald and Natalie Tyson, Joon Sung Park and Helen Park, William and Helen Lavlais. The Estonian Methodist Church had a big impact on the second wave of the Methodism in Russia. The biggest centers of the revival of Methodism became Moscow, Samara and Yekaterinburg.
Pastor Yong Chol Cho established the Central United Methodist Church in Moscow that later gave birth to first Methodist Churches of Moscow – Mytischy, Vnukovo, Perovo. Ludmila Garbuzova started the ministry as a result of which the present church “Singing Christians” was formed. In Samara the establisher and first minister of United Methodist Church was Vladislav Spektrov – graduate of Estonian Methodist seminary. Dwight Ramsey was the head of the ministry of the First United Methodist Church of Yekaterinburg, it was continued later by Lydia Istomina.
In 1992 Rev. Cho together with missionaries of other denominations organized the work of United Theological Seminary where studied first ministers of the modern Russian Methodism: Ludmila Garbuzova, Eia Lee, Lidia Pronina, Olga Pokrovskaia, Vera Schepak, Andrey Kim, Viacheslav Kim, Dmitriy Lee, Vladimir Makarov, Eduard Khegay. The missionary Christina Hena lead the medical program of Russia United Methodist Church.
In 1993 Russia United Methodist Church received state approval, confirmed in 1999 by Ministry of Justice of Russian Federation. The Church was given the status “Centralized religious organization”. The first Bishop of the Russia United Methodist Church was Rudiger R. Minor.
In 1995 the Theological Seminary of Russia United Methodist Church started its work. It was preparing pastors and ministers for the church. Graduates of the seminary, starting from 1997, receive appointments and carry pastoral ministry on whole territory of former Soviet Union.
In 1999 the distant study course of the seminary was opened. It was headed by the rector of the Seminary Andrey Kim.
In the Russia United Methodist Church again started publishing of the periodical press and restarted publishing Methodist books in Russian language.
The work is held on the territory from Western part of former Soviet Union (Kaliningrad) to the Pacific ocean (Vladivostok), from the North (Archangelsk) to the South (Kazakhstan), in Ukraine and Moldova. After 15 years of work in the structure of Russia United Methodist Church 12 districts were created: Volga, Moscow Southern, Moscow Northern, Saint- Petersburg, Western, Novgorod, Ural, Siberian- Far East, Central Asia, Northern- Caucuses, Central Black Soil, Ukraine and Moldova.
In the structure of RUMC there are more than 100 churches and Bible groups, the number of which is constantly growing. 70 appointed pastors , 30 of those – ordained presbyters, carry the ministry in the churches. In accordance with the principles of United Methodist Church the Annual Conference of Russia United Methodist Church was organized.
Today, after 100 years, for us, Methodists, there are still important the three principles of ministry: mission work, education and social help to the needy – poor, sick, lonely. United Methodist work in hospitals, jails, orphanages, with people who drug or alcohol dependant, carry charity ministry, proclaim Good News of God’s love to people. Wу believe, that such things as these will bring spiritual revival of Russia.
Principles of the United Methodist Church are stated in the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.