Pentecostals

2 January 2010, 19:26 | Major Religions | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

Pentecostalism is a Protestant religious trend which originated at the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, Pentecostalism came to the Russian Empire, and from there to Ukraine. Pentecostals were preceded by the communities of Molokans and Dukhobors, who prepared the ground for the spread of Pentecostalism. It was brought to western Ukraine by emigrants who returned from the USA. In 1920, the first organized communities appeared in northwestern Ukrainian Volyn, and in 1924, the first Convention of Christians of the Holy Pentecost was held in Kremenchuk, where a union of Pentecostal communities was formed, which union was headed by Ivan Herasevych.

In 1929, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish and German Pentecostal communities on Polish territory united in the All-Polish Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith-Pentecostals. By 1939, the union included over 300 communities. Several periodicals were published. There was a Bible Institute in Gdansk, Poland.

In 1928, the Pentecostal movement was started in southwestern Ukrainian Bukovyna. In 1921, the first Pentecostal community was organized in Soviet Ukraine, in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa. In 1924, fifty communities organized the Regional Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith (CEF), which had its center in Odesa. On 3 September 1925, the All-Ukrainian Union of the CEF was formed. The union incorporated over 500 communities and 25,000 faithful when it was destroyed in 1930. It was headed by Ivan Voronaiev, who once had to flee from the Russian Empire because of his religious beliefs. After the liquidation of the union, its leaders found themselves in concentration camps and perished there. Western Ukrainian Pentecostals were also persecuted after 1939.

During the Soviet-German war, the Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith operated on Ukrainian territory with the center in the Berestechko area and the Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith operated in eastern Ukraine.

In 1945, threatening new repressions, the Soviet regime proposed that the Pentecostal leaders enter into a union with Evangelical Baptists (the August agreement of 1945). Some Pentecostal communities, especially, in the western regions, joined this association and stayed in union until 1989. Most of the communities did not agree to enter, and part of those who did enter were soon dissatisfied. In 1948, in Dniprodzerzhynsk, an illegal convention was held with the participation of delegates of all Pentecostal associations. They approved an address to the government and to the leaders of the All-USSR Association of Evangelical Christian Baptists speaking about the almost incompatible specificities of the doctrinal systems of the Pentecostal and the Baptist faiths and the consequent impossibility of mutual association. The Pentecostals asked the Soviet government for permission to establish their own union of churches. As a result, all the participants of the convention were arrested and convicted.

Upon their release in 1956, the leaders of the Christians of the Evangelical Faith-Pentecostal (CEF-P) took advantage of the period of “the thaw” and held another illegal convention in Kharkiv and approached the Soviet authorities with a similar request. This time, they received a positive reply and submitted necessary documents containing data on religious communities for registration to the Council on Matters of Religions. As a result, these lists were used to start arrests and trials of active members and leaders of the church. This undermined any remaining trust in the authorities. Therefore, the Pentecostals abstained from any dialogue with the authorities until the collapse of the USSR. The CEF-P had no single center at that time. In 1968, registration of communities outside the All-USSR Association of ECB was permitted, and by 1989 200 autonomous churches were registered, governed by the council of presbyters. In addition, numerous unregistered communities existed.

On 25-26 May 1990, a convention was held in Korosten, where the All-Ukraine Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith-Pentecostals was revived. It incorporated Pentecostal communities from the All-USSR Association of the ECB, independently registered and unregistered churches, and missions. Mykola Melnyk was elected head of the union. In 1998, he was replaced by Mykhailo Panochko.

The official press outlets of the AUU CEFP are the magazines “Blahovisnyk” (Announcer of Good News), “Yevanhelskyi holos” (Evangelical voice), and “Yevanhelyst” (Evangelist). Individual communities publish their own periodicals. Pentecostals are known for their radio and TV programs.

The missions “Holos nadii” (Voice of Hope) in Lutsk, “Vozmozhnost” (Ability) in Mariupol, and “Dobryi Samarianyn” (Good Samaritan) in Rivne are involved in active missionary activity in the territory of the Russian Federation.

The union’s personnel are trained in nearly 20 bible seminaries, institutes and schools. There are also various bible courses and schools attached to communities.

There also exists the Union of Independent Communities of Christians of the Evangelical Faith-Pentecostals, and individual autonomous Pentecostal communities.

For current statistical information, see Statistics on Religion in Ukraine and for a list of web-sites see Religion in Ukraine on the Internet.

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