APPEAL TO THE PASTORS AND MINISTERS OF THE “WORD OF LIFE” FELLOWSHIP OF CHURCHES IN RUSSIA
From the Council and Pastors of the “Word of Life” Union of Christian Churches of Ukraine
The reason for this appeal is to bring clarity and certainty between our brotherhoods during the war between Russia and Ukraine.
On February 24, 2022, Russia started a treacherous invasion of the territory of sovereign Ukraine in order to seize the territory, overthrow the existing authorities in Ukraine and establish complete control over our country and people. In fact, the war in the east of Ukraine has been going on since 2014, but now it acquired an open form. The very fact of unleashing aggression, the incessant false anti-Ukrainian propaganda, the destruction of peaceful cities, and atrocities against civilians indicates that the Russian government and its army are carrying out occupation, plunder, inhuman violence, and genocide against the Ukrainian people.
On April 2, 2022, the official statement of the ‘Word of Life’ Council and churches of Ukraine regarding military aggression, as well as the relations between the churches of Ukraine and Russia was published. When we address the churches of Russia, we primarily mean the Association of the ‘Churches of Faith’, Christians of Evangelical Faith, which includes the Russian churches of the ‘Word of Life’ movement. In our open appeal, as well as repeatedly in personal conversations, we called on the leadership of the Russian church to clearly express their position regarding Russia’s war against Ukraine, not to be silent about it, but rather confirm their position with the corresponding actions.
It has already been over 90 days of the war, but unfortunately, we did not see any significant steps made. While there are many ministers in Russia who openly call a spade a spade and share the truth, the leadership of the ‘Word of Life’ churches in Russia has taken a very cautious stance, fearing negative consequences.
It is worth noting that the ‘Churches of Faith’ Association, CEF, is a part of the Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith, RUCEF. The statements of this Union are automatically considered as the statements of the ‘Word of Life’ Movement, Russia. An example of this can be the speech of S. V. Ryakhovsky, the head bishop of RUCEF, at a round table in the State Duma of Russia on March 29, 2022, when he equivocally spoke out in support of the war, calling the ‘love of Christ’ a foundation for it. There was a number of other wrong statements in his speech. The further attempts of S. Ryakhovsky to explain his words did not contain a hint of repentance or make sense. The comments of the Spiritual Board of the RUCEF did not provide any assessment of the statements of the lead bishop and had a very blurred shape. All of this indicated the stiff moral and ideological standards of the RUCEF board, and the position of conciliation and fear of the board members.
In times of war, when the very existence of the Ukrainian people is at stake, we cannot engage in games of political correctness and religious diplomacy. Light is light, darkness is darkness, truth is truth, and falsehood is falsehood. Senior pastors of the ‘Word of Life’ churches in Ukraine have repeatedly taken steps to maintain relations between the two associations. But we see this possible only with a clearly expressed position of the ‘Word of Life’ churches in Russia, that is open repentance for the war and the sins of the Russian people and government, repentance of S.V. Ryakhovsky, or the exit of the ministers of the ‘Word of Life’ churches, Russia, out of their membership in the board of RUCEF.
We are convinced that real faith is dead without actions. We also recognize that deep repentance and the actions that confirm it are the results of the inward working of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Word of God, and it cannot be forcefully imposed on the outside. But these are exactly the proper conditions for true brotherly relations (1 John 1:7-9).
In regards to the above-stated, we, the pastors of the ‘Word of Life’ movement, Ukraine, have decided to temporarily terminate our fraternal relations with the pastors of the ‘Word of Life’ movement, Russia, until we see a clearly-expressed public and practical position on the above-stated matters from the leadership of the movement.
We also want to note that this appeal has nothing to do with the global Word of Life International movement, of which we consider ourselves a part of.
We pray that in this fateful time the Lord will give the Russian pastors and churches the grace to be faithful to God, the truth of the Word and their calling from the Lord, regardless of the cost. We pray the same in our regard.
the Council and Churches of the ‘Word of Life’ Union of Christian Churches of Ukraine