William Yoder – Healthy Debate is Needed. A conversation on the Baptists of Georgia

 

Despite controversies, Elimar Brandt of Berlin, a Baptist pastor and long-time director of Christian health-care facilities, see reasons for hope within the Baptist church of Georgia. After five years of post-graduate studies in Oxford/UK, its long-time head, Dr. Malkhaz Songulashvili, returned to Georgia in April 2014. Yet soon he was no longer archbishop: that position is now held by a more conservative colleague, Merab Gaprindshvili.

Even prior to the return from England, a grouping calling itself the „Evangelical Baptist Association of Georgia“ had broken off from the mother „Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia“ (EBCG) in October 2013. The Association has roughly 30 congregations and 800 members; the EBCG according to some reckonings may have as few as 2.000 adult members.

„I don’t notice any front between Merab and the other three bishops,“ Pastor Brandt maintains. (Brandt has visited Georgia frequently in the course of the past two decades.) “Merab was and remains a pupil of Malkhaz, who always has been a strong influence on him and Bishop Ilja (Osephashvili). It’s a kind of father-son dispute. I find it very laudable that the (stay-home) bishops did not attempt to resolve everything in Malkhaz’ absence. All sides are attempting to find a way back to each other – that’s my reason for being optimistic. The experiences they have gathered during the course of the controversy have been very challenging and formative.” Continue reading “William Yoder – Healthy Debate is Needed. A conversation on the Baptists of Georgia”

The Gospel As Story – Sermon at Tbilisi Baptist Cathedral

Here is an outline of my sermon, which I have delivered at the invitation of Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili.. Continue reading “The Gospel As Story – Sermon at Tbilisi Baptist Cathedral”

Georgian Baptist Bishop Receives Freedom Award after Pope Francis

Richard Norland & Archbishop Malkhaz - Freedom Award reception
American Ambassador Richard Norland and Archbishop Malkhaz

Prof. Dr Malkhaz Songulashvili, the Bishop of Tbilisi and the Senior Minister of the Baptist Peace Cathedral has been awarded with the annual Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award “for his  multidimensional work for peace building and the promotion of mutual respect among various religions.”

The awards ceremony took place  on January 10, in Berlin, Germany, at the annual gathering of the First Step Forum members.  The award was presented to Dr Songulashvili by German Government minister Mr Hermann Groehe who praised the Bishop for his bridge building ministry between cultures, religions and minority communities.

Bishop Songulashvili is the fifth recipient of the Freedom Award. Previous recipients of Freedom Award were Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan (posthumously – 2011), Dr. Hany Hanna, Egypt (2012), Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma (2013), and Pope Francis, Vatican (2014). Continue reading “Georgian Baptist Bishop Receives Freedom Award after Pope Francis”

World Evangelical Alliance Presents Pope Francis with Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award

Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award to Pope Francis

9 Nov 2014, Vatican City

(Vatican Radio) Meeting this week in the Vatican with a delegation from the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and its partner “First Step Forum”, Pope Francis has been awarded the annual Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award for his tireless commitment to build a more peaceful and reconciled world.

Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to WEA President, Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, who explained the main reason for the meeting was to talk about areas of potential collaboration, to address global issues of common concerns to both the evangelical community and the Catholic Church.

Tunnicliffe begins by explaining exactly what he means when speaking of a “New Era in Evangelical and Roman Catholic Relations” – which by the way, happens to be the very title of the speech with which he addressed Pope Francis… Continue reading “World Evangelical Alliance Presents Pope Francis with Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award”

Ecclesial Theology: Baptist “Receptive Ecumenism” in the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia

Ecclesial Theology: Baptist “Receptive Ecumenism” in the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia.

This is an older post by American Baptist theologian Steven Harmon on the ecumenical engagements of Georgian Baptists, under the leadership of Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili.

Malkhaz Songulashvili – Ukraine in Europe – 7. Building European Values

Three main factors are decisive for the establishment of European values in the post-Soviet space: experiential, linguistic and religious.

The experiential factor implies people traveling to the Western world and acquainting themselves with the values and rules of societies there, becoming convinced that our compatriots in the post-Soviet space are much more oppressed than in the West. People in the West are much freer, have opportunities to receive good education, quality medical care and social services. They also see that a westerner has same abilities as an easterner. The difference, however, is that the easterner does not have the possibility to fully realize his/her abilities, whereas the westerner does. This happens because an individual person and his/her welfare has superior value in the West. The more intensively people travel to the West, the clearer they will understand Western values if, of course, they want to – I have seen many Eastern Europeans in the West who have failed to understand why Western values are so different from Soviet ones. The state of affairs in this regard is much better among Ukrainians. Ukrainians can cross over into Western Europe in the morning and be back in Ukraine the same evening. They can use cheap transportation to travel to the West and can easily familiarize themselves with Western culture and values. Continue reading “Malkhaz Songulashvili – Ukraine in Europe – 7. Building European Values”

Malkhaz Songulashvili – Ukraine in Europe – 6. Hope for Post-Soviet Countries

In evangelical circles it is customary, as a sign of intercommunion, to ask foreign guests: how can we pray for your country? I have often joked, especially after the Russia-Georgia war of August 2008 that one does not need to pray for Georgia; it is Russia that badly needs to be prayed for today. It needs prayers to be freed from that rancor that chokes it and makes it hostile, not only towards the Western Christian civilization, but also towards its co-religionists of Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus and Moldova. Co-religionism is both a noose and a stick in its hands. This clearly has nothing in common with either Christianity or love towards Jesus. Unfortunately, the Russian Orthodox Church is a steadfast implementer of the Kremlin’s politics in this area. It seems that the hierarchs of the Russian Church are not concerned about the fate of their people and country. The only thing they are concerned about is maintaining the “superpower.” This is very regretful, but that is how it is. Continue reading “Malkhaz Songulashvili – Ukraine in Europe – 6. Hope for Post-Soviet Countries”