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”

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Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze – 2014 International Women of Courage Award Winner


Bishop Rusudan at her ordination by Archbishop Malkhaz

Two days ago my friend the Georgian Baptist Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili was announcing me, confidentially, that soon, his colleague, and our common friend Bishop Rudusan Gotsiridze will receive at the State Department, in Washington the 2014 International Women of Courage Award, together with a number of other remarkable women.

Congratulations, Bishop Rusudan!

Here is the official announcement, for the ceremony that took place today: Continue reading “Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze – 2014 International Women of Courage Award Winner”

Cup of Tea Theology: Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze at TEDxTbilisi

My friend Rev. Rusudan Gotsiridze of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia, is my favourite bishop. It is worth listening here to her TED presentation.

Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze, the first female Baptist Bishop in Georgia, discusses the ordination of women and the role of gender in religion. She is a pastor and longtime researcher of women’s ordination practices in different Christian traditions.

One Day in the Life of A Wandering Georgian


Bishop Rusudan and Archbishop Malkhaz

I have just received the following message from my good friend Georgian Baptist Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili, who is now in Oxford, finishing writing his PhD.

* * *

Dear Friends,

Bishop Rusudan, our first woman Bishop, is having her birthday very
soon. I am not going to tell you her age. I can only give you a clue:
she is over the age of crucifixion (33).
I have written a little story, a true one, to mark this occasion. I
hope you will like it.
Yours,

+Malkhaz


Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili
Regent’s Park College
Pusey Street
Oxford OX1 2LB Continue reading “One Day in the Life of A Wandering Georgian”

Georgia – the Meanders of Religious Freedom


Georgian Baptist Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze (on the left)

Nova Research Centre announced a few days ago a real breakthrough in terms of religious freedom in Georgia, where a new very liberal law has just been passed, with an important contribution of the hierarchy of the little Baptist Church in that country.. The blog post explains:

Initial drafts limited the freedoms to just five groups, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Evangelical Baptist church of Georgia, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Jewish and Muslim communities of Georgia, in addition to the special status still accorded the Orthodox Church of Georgia. The Baptist Archbishop in Georgia, Malkhaz Songulashvili, reports that following the release of the first draft, Bishop Rusudan Gotziridze (Baptist), lobbied the parliament and requested that the legislation should be extended to all religious groups in Georgia. The draft was subsequently amended to meet this request. A press release from the Embassy of Georgia in London specifically refers to Evangelicals being granted the same freedoms.

Yet, things is Georgia are never simple. Thus, after I have shared on Facebook the link to this article, a friend in  Armenia added the following comment: Continue reading “Georgia – the Meanders of Religious Freedom”