Archive for March 2010

Protestant Armenians

March 16, 2010

A Norovank Foundation article, dated 16th March, offers an Armenian view of Protestants within Armenia and among the global Diaspora.

The first Protestant community of Armenians is recorded in Istanbul in 1846. By 1914 there were an estimated 60,000. After the post-Soviet political changes the Armenian Evangelical Church was re-registered in 1994 and has continued to expand gradually. Expansion has given them a higher national profile and Armenian Evangelicals have worked hard to establish that their Christian tradition can be understood as culturally Armenian.

Evangelical protestants in Armenia generally see their roots in one of two alternative sources. Some trace their origins to two medieval Armenian sectarian movements, the Pavlikians and the Tondrakians, whereas a second group look back to seventeenth reform movements within the (Orthodox) Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC). The point of connection between the two emphases is that the Reform movements within the AAC also drew inspiration from the sectarian Pavlikians and the Tondrakians.

Armenian evangelicals are widely seen to be making valuable educational and cultural contributions to Armenian society (including their invaluable role in translating the Bible into contemporary Armenian) as well as playing an important role in the preservation of national identity. Their missionary activity among Armenian Muslims during the Ottoman period in Turkey was welcomed by the AAC during that period.

Despite this positive reporting of the Armenian Evangelical Church, Baptists and others keep a close watch on the Religious Laws of Armenia through which there exists the tendency for nudging it little by little towards a closer relationship of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian State.

The original article can be viewed at

Germany: conversion and mission

March 15, 2010

Special report cover‘Older and Wiser’ a 16 page report on Germany, published in this week’s Economist, is also available as a free pdf download on their website at In addition to the usual economic discussion, there are maps outlining current levels of  unemployment by region plus graphs and articles dealing with education and migration. Includes a useful updated assessment of German re-unification.

In terms of mission in Europe, Germany is frequently overlooked, but the high levels of atheism in former East Germany continues to prove a challenge. The Research Institute for Evangelisation and Church Renewal (IEEG) at Griefswald University belongs to the German Church (EKD) and is currently engaged in an important piece of research on ‘conversion in Germany’. It’s appointed field workers with special responsibility to work in the east of Germany as a way of trying to understand how better to engage the gospel among them. We will continue to cover this important work when more research findings are released.

What is the Gospel for the poor of Poland?

March 12, 2010

According to recent reports from the OECD, Poland currently has the third highest rate of child poverty (26%) among OECD members. This despite Poland having the sixth largest economy in the EU. The Polish statistics agency noted that fewer than 3% of rural inhabitants had higher eduction and Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, found in January that a third of Poles ‘lived in poverty’.
An ENI report noted ‘Only a handful of paragraphs were devoted to social and economic problems in a 130-page bishops’ conference report on families in August. In addition poverty issues were not mentioned in a December pastoral letter or in a statement of the Polish bishops’ Pastoral Commission in January.’
Critics of this omission warn of a rift opening up between a wealthy and powerful elite and the ‘working poor’. When the church finds itself caught up in this kind of situation it’s time to re-read the gospels and think carefully about its choice of dining companions and how to introduce them to the host of the meal.

250 will gather in Edinburgh to discuss mission – but will the real discussion take place elsewhere?

March 9, 2010

After only a week of blogging I suddenly find myself championing social networking as a way of increasing participation in an international mission conference of only 250 invited delegates. I innocently suggested that having people in each session blogging and posting to facebook might allow several hundred more people to follow some of the discussion and respond immediately.
Interesting responses included: ‘it excludes Africans without internet access’;’ it limits ‘real’ interaction’; ‘it doesn’t allow serious and considered interaction’.
I argued that anything above the 250 already invited delegates would be a democratisation of the event. I think I’m right, but then I would – I’m a new convert. What’s your experience of running  these kind of events and using the online fora, arenas, social networks, etc. to broaden participation. I’d be glad to hear.

Mission? In Europe?

March 9, 2010

Currently sitting in meetings planning for the Edinburgh 2010 centenary mission conference scheduled for June of this year.
Strange to recall that  the 1910 Mission Atlas specially produced for the Edinburgh 1910 world missionary conference was not allowed to display mission activity in Europe – other than Christian mission to te Jews in several European cities.
The assumption running through these current preparations for June 2010 is that mission in Europe is a pressing and absolutely necessary task. How times have changed!
In the situation of inter-church relationships there are still some tricky issues to be resolved but none of us can ignore the vibrant and vital presence of churches from the global south and many pentecostal and charismatic churches that are all active in European mission.
Commitment to innovation in mission whilst retaining an appropriate accountability to church networks and structures will continue to frame discussions of church, mission, and unity.
You can join the discussiomn of mission, unity and eccelsiology by posting a comment here, or by checking out the Edinburgh 2010 website for the study process ‘Mission, unity, ecclesioloy’