March 14, 2014

Joint Statement from Russian, Ukrainian Adventists Urges Peacekeeping, Prayer

statement released by Seventh-Day Adventist Church leaders In Russia, Ukraine,
and other Eastern European countries invites church members and “all people of
good will” to participate in the “ministry of reconciliation” as political
turmoil in Ukraine deepens.

separatists in Crimea voted recently to secede from Ukraine and join Russia
just days after thousands of Russian troops began patrolling the disputed Black
Sea Peninsula. A region-wide referendum for secession is set for March 16. Most
of Crimea’s 2.3 million people identify as ethnic Russians.

Crimean Tatars hold a banner that reads, “No War” during a pro-Ukraine rally in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine on March 10. A Turkic ethnic group, Tatars make up 12 percent of Crimea’s population, the majority of which is ethnic Russian. [photo: Darko Vojinovic/copyright Associated Press]Unrest in
the region began in November when former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych
backed away from a planned trade deal with the European Union in favor of a
loan from Russia. The decision spurred months of street protests in Kiev, and
violent clashes between demonstrators and police. Ukraine’s democratically
elected parliament ousted Yanukovych in February.

Alekseenko, president of the Adventist Church in Ukraine, then asked Adventists
to pray for their country and avoid provoking hostility, either on the streets
or on social media, where he urged church members not to post inflammatory comments.

is among church leaders to sign this latest statement, calling on Adventists
and community members to help “restore human dignity, equality, and unity
through the grace of God.”

Excerpts from
the statement:

“We call
on all members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to refrain from participating
in political statements and actions that could escalate tensions. We invite all
people of good will to join us in peacekeeping and persistent prayer for a
peaceful resolution of all conflicts, as well as to create an atmosphere of
fraternity and cooperation, contributing to the understanding of different
cultures and ideological systems to build good relations between people of all
races, nationalities, religions, and political beliefs.

“This is
the official position of the church. Any other statements you may encounter
outside the official church media should be viewed as those of private individuals.”

statement was signed by leaders from the Adventist Church’s Euro-Asia Division,
Belarus Union of Churches, Caucasus Union Mission, East Russian Union Mission,
Far Eastern Union of Churches, Moldova Union of Churches, Southern Union
Mission, Trans-Caucasus Union Mission, Ukrainian Union Conference, and West
Russian Union Conference.

the Adventist Church’s official television network in Ukraine is broadcasting a
live daily prayer marathon. “God Save Ukraine” airs on Hope Channel Ukraine
during prime time and highlights stories of unity and forgiveness from across
the country.

Channel Ukraine is the only Christian television network in the country
directly responding to the political crisis, Adventist media officials said.