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Re-establishment of the Evangelical Alliance in East Prussia

The proposal to establish a regional  Evangelical Alliance in Kaliningrad was well received and work has begun on formalizing the structures.

EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVES AUTOR 273/Johannes_Reimer 20 DE FEBRERO DE 2024 15:54 h
Svetlogorsk, Kaliningrad, Russia / Photo: [link] Andrey Vavilkin[/link], Unsplash CC0.

1. On the history of East Prussia



The Evangelical Alliance in East Prussia has a long history. German representatives of revivalist circles were already present at the founding of the EA in London in 1846.



After the EA conference in London in 1851, the German participants returned home and founded the German branch of the EA.1  And the third international conference of the EA took place in Berlin in 1857. 2



Soon several regional alliances were formed in Hamburg, Württemberg, Rhineland and so on.



It was not until 1885 that meetings of Alliance friends were also reported in East Prussia and in 1899 the Königsberg Alliance was founded. 3



The long start-up of the EA in East Prussia clearly shows that the idea of an Evangelical Alliance was not welcomed by everyone.



Critics even blasphemed: "You drive sheep and pigs, sows and chickens into a barn together and want to achieve that pigs, geese and chickens become one flock with the sheep."  4



Regular conferences were held in the town from 1899.5 In the beginning, the conferences took place within the framework of the Community Conference of the East Prussian Community Association. In 1907 (9.09) a management committee was founded. 6



[destacate]The long start-up of the EA in East Prussia clearly shows that the idea of an Evangelical Alliance was not welcomed by everyone [/destacate] The conferences in Königsberg were attended by the leading figures of the EA in Germany such as General von Viehbann, Ernst Moderson and others.


In 1906, for example, the 9th fellowship conference took place from October 23-26 with the theme: "The People of God according to 1 Peter 1 and 2" with the participation of Eva Thiele-Winkler, General von Viebahn, Ernst Modersohn and Jonathan Paul 7 , among others.



In 1907, the first community conference with a pronounced alliance character took place in Königsberg. 8  And from 1926 to 1937, the meetings were held as Alliance conferences.



Thousands of people took part. In addition to the Protestant and Reformed congregations, Protestant fellowship groups, Baptist congregations and others were also involved.



 



2. A new foundation after the collapse of the USSR



Since the end of the Second World War, the old East Prussia belonged to the Soviet Union and since the collapse of the Soviet empire to the Russian Federation.



In Russia, an Evangelical Alliance came into being with the founding of the Evangelical Alliance in 1909, 9 which ceased to exist during the years of the Soviet Union and was only re-established in 2003. 10



[destacate]Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Adventists and Charismatics meet regularly for prayer and have already carried out several joint activities in public in Kaliningrad [/destacate] According to Ulrich Materne, who worked for years as a representative of the Evangelical Alliance in the USSR and made a significant contribution to the founding of the REA, he visited Kaliningrad several times in 2002-2005 together with the then head of the REA, Vladimir Ryaguzov, and founded the local Kaliningrad Alliance in 2004 with several pastors from Lutheran, Baptist and Pentecostal circles.


Neither Materne nor the contemporary witnesses in Königsberg were able to say anything about their activities. 11  However, the memory of it still exists and there is remarkable cooperation between Protestant Christians in the city.



Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Adventists and Charismatics meet regularly for prayer and have already carried out several joint activities in public in Kaliningrad.



The new foundation of the regional EA in Kaliningrad therefore falls on good ground.



 



3. The regional EA is created



The Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA) has been reorganizing its structure in the country for two years.



The huge country with 200 different ethnic groups and many autonomous national territories requires a multinational and multi-regional federal structure.



For this reason, alliances have been formed or are being formed in Moscow, Siberia, Tatarstan, the North Caucasus and elsewhere in recent years. One of these regional alliances is now also being organized in the exclave of Kaliningrad.



With this goal in mind, a meeting of regional leaders of Christian churches and ministries took place from February 16-18 in Kaliningrad with the President of the REA Dr. Sergei E. Lavrenov, Tyumen and the Secretary General of the REA Vitaly K. Vlassenko, Moscow.



The meeting was also attended by the Head of the Department of Public Engagement of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Prof. Dr. Johannes Reimer, who presented the history of the Evangelical Alliance with special reference to East Prussia and explained how it works today.



The leaders of the Russian Alliance vividly explained their work. The proposal to establish a regional EA in Kaliningrad was well received and work has begun on formalizing the structures.



[destacate]The re-establishment of the Evangelical Alliance is a timely phenomenon. Close cooperation between churches is necessary for both spiritual and economic reasons [/destacate] The re-establishment of the Kaliningrad Evangelical Alliance is a timely phenomenon in many respects. The population that has settled in the region since 1945 has come from all corners of the large Soviet Union.


Today, ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Armenians, Germans, Poles, Lithuanians and others live here. Over the years, congregations of Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists,



Evangelical Christians and others have sprung up alongside the Evangelical Lutheran and Russian Orthodox churches.



Many of these churches are growing and carrying out impressive social and missionary work. For example, a number of evangelical rehabilitation centers for drug and alcohol addicts operate in the area.



There is a Christian college in the city and several socially relevant initiatives. Evangelism is also very important.



Close cooperation between these churches is necessary for both spiritual and economic reasons.



Most Protestant Christians tend to come from modest backgrounds. Their financial resources are not sufficient to purchase their own church building.



For this reason, congregations are increasingly joining together. For example, the Pentecostal-oriented members of the fast-growing Christian Center Kaliningrad meet in the main church of the Evangelical Lutheran congregation.



Others also share their rooms. There is also a colorful variety of Protestant orientations among the students of the Christian college.



Closer integration of the Kaliningrad Protestant Christians into the REA and thus also into the European and global alliance can only help the congregations to carry out their work even more intensively.



We can therefore only rejoice at the re-establishment of the EA in former East Prussia.



Johannes Reimer, Professor of Missiology at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and a long-standing member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).



 



Notes



1.  Erich Beyreuther: Der Weg der Evangelischen Allianz in Deutschland. (Wuppertal: Brockhaus 1969), 18.



2.  Beyreuther: The Way of the Evangelical Alliance, 25.



3.  Nail Na 7 p. 59, 82



4.  For the history of the Protestant movement in East Prussia, see e.g: Walther Hubatsch: Geschichte der evangelischen Kirche Ostpreußens. (Göttingen: Vandehoeck & Rprecht 1968).



5.  Beyreuther: The Way of the Evangelical Alliance, 59.84



6.  Nagel - from 1885 meetings Na 2 p. 185p. 186 from 9.9. 1907 a committee



7.  Sabbathklänge 1906 p. 671; report in Sabbathklänge 1906 p. 732f



8,  Community conference with alliance character AdW 1907/47 p. 793



9.  V.S. Ryagusov: Istoria sozdania i osobennosti Rossiiskogo Evangeljskogo Aljanca (= History of the formation and characteristics of the Russian Evangelical Alliance), (19.02.2024).



10.  Ibid.



11.  Telephone conversation between the author and Materne on 14.02.2024.


 

 


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