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We invite all people of good will to join us in peacekeeping, incessant prayer for peaceful resolution of all conflicts, as well as to create an atmosphere of fraternity and cooperation . . .
A statement released by top 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.
Pro-Russian separatists in Crimea voted last week 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. A majority of Crimea’s 2.3 million people identify as ethnic Russians.
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 last month.
In February, Viktor Alekseenko, president of the Adventist Church in Ukraine, asked Adventists to pray for their country and avoid provoking hostility—on the streets and on social media, where he urged church members not to leave inflammatory comments.
Alekseenko 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 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, incessant prayer for 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 statement you may encounter outside the official church media should be seen as the views of private individuals.”
The statement was signed by leadership 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 the West Russian Union Conference.
Meanwhile, 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 from across the country that demonstrate unity and forgiveness.
Hope Channel Ukraine is the only Christian television network in the country directly responding to the political crisis, Adventist media officials said.