130 years of Methodism in Eurasia
In August 2019, the people called Methodists from all over Eurasia gathered in Uzhgorod (Ukraine) to share the joy of their “Unity” in the ministry to God with brothers and sisters from other countries and to celebrate the new date in their history – 130 years of Methodism in Eurasia.
The history of the People called Methodists in Eurasia began in the year 1889, when Finnish mission started its work in Saint-Petersburg. In 1909, the Episcopal Methodist Church in Eurasia was recognized officially in the Russian Empire. By 1910, the Methodist congregation had about 500 constant members of different nationalities already. Apparently such a quick spreading of Methodism was stimulated by the priory that they gave to social help, missionary work and education.
In 1920, Methodists began their ministry in Harbin, Manchuria and Vladivostok to serve he Korean population who migrated to Siberia and the Far East. During these 5 years several congregations were opened in Harbin; Sunday schools, general education schools, a business school, a health clinic, a social centre for women, a welfare league for childrenand a theological seminary were established in the area.
The Spirit of God moved to begin the ministry of the Methodists in Uzhgorod (now Ukraine), where the 130th celebration was held. On March 26, 1923, the Missionary Council of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the South (USA) purchased the building as a gift for the community of Uzhgorod. From different sides – form the West and from the East – the spreading of Methodism in Russia had started. However, the revolution changed the history of the Church dramatically. As the result of political pressure after the revolution of 1917 and the Second World War, most signs of the Methodist presence in the Soviet Union were erased, church property was confiscated.
Only in the early 1990s did the UMC in Eurasia resume its existence as an initiative of the Global UMC: missionaries left their homes and came to a foreign country on another continent to tell people about Jesus Christ and help to build the Church. Owing to the prayer and support of partners from the United Methodist Churches of the USA and Europe, church communities reappeared in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Each story remembered at the festival became a unique testimony of God’s work through ministers and missionaries at different times of the history of the Methodist church in Eurasia. This history unites us, despite everything, we all are connected in the Body of Christ – and it is impossible to break this connection.