KESTON NEWS SERVICE
Issue 4, Article 5, 7 April 2000

Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.
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BAPTIST LEADERS PROTEST ABOUT KNS ARTICLE

Two prominent Baptist leaders, one Russian and one American, have written to
Keston protesting about the 1 February Keston News Service article, 'Will
There be a New Baptist Seminary Building in Moscow?' One claims
specifically, and the other strongly implies, that there have been no disputes on
this issue between the Southern Baptist Convention in the United States and the
Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists in Russia.

Keston stands by its article, which is based on facts obtained from various
well-informed sources. We note that our Baptist correspondents do not seem to
have read the article carefully; for example, at no point does the article state
that the Baptist seminary in Odessa belongs to the Russian Baptist Union.

So that KNS readers can judge for themselves, we are publishing the complete
text of the protests from the two Baptist leaders, together with a letter from
Keston's director inviting the Baptists to provide more information. That letter,
sent more than three weeks ago, remains unanswered.

Lawrence Uzzell
Director, Keston Institute

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From: Ed Tarleton
Subject: Keston News Article
Date: 3 March 2000
To: Lawrence Uzzell

Dear Lawrence A. Uzzell,

I have tried several times to contact directly either you or Roman Lunkin to
respond to your article run Feb. 1, 2000 entitled "Will There Be a New Baptist
Seminary in Moscow?" I am greatly disturbed by the article and quite frankly
do not understand why your news service decided to run such a report. I have
spoken directly to Peter Konovalcheck, Yuri Sipko, and Alexander Kozynko
and they are just as puzzled as I am as to why you would publish such an
account.

Not only were the "facts" of the article greatly confused and inaccurate, the
final intent of the article was very disturbing.

Once more, I repeat emphatically that the relationship between the Southern
Baptist Convention and the Russian Baptist Union is very strong. Our
relationship is with the churches and their leaders and not through the public
purview of a news service or the opinions of someone not involved in the
relationship; i.e. Alexander Semchenko. We have continued to affirm our love
and support for all the pastors and leaders in the UECB. We have no hidden
agenda that would keep us from continuing that support. The churches of the
SBC have given sacrificially in the past to help our Russian Baptist brothers
and sisters reach the wonderful land of Russia for Jesus Christ. Our plans for
the future include not only financial support when possible but more
importantly missionaries working side by side with our Russian brothers to
provide the environment for a church planting movement that will bring the
light and truth of our Lord to Russia.

I would hope that you print a full retraction of Lunkin's article and an apology
for the very disturbing results caused by the article.

Sincerely,

Edward D. Tarleton, Jr.
Mission Coordinator

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From: A.P. Kozynko
Subject: Keston News Article
Date: 30 March 2000
To: Aleksandr Shipkov, Keston News Service

Dear Aleksandr Vladimirovich,

I read the article about the Moscow Theological Seminary published by Keston
News Service on 28 January 2000 and was extremely surprised by its distortion
of the facts and of the interview which I gave to the author, Roman Lunkin.
Having discussed this at length with the deputy president of the Russian Union
of Evangelical Christians Baptists, Y.K. Sipko, and the representative of the
Southern Baptist Convention in Moscow, Edward Tarleton, we came to the
conclusion that a serious misrepresentation of the facts has occurred. When I
made a verbal protest in a telephone call to the author, Roman Lunkin, with the
demand that this article be refuted no reaction from Keston News Service was
forthcoming.

I am writing to you demanding that you refute this article. I consider it
necessary to express my categorical disagreement with certain facts set down
by the article:
- its title implies serious distortions: no disputes about the acquisition of a
building in Moscow have taken place between any parties;
- the author is not only confused about the jurisdiction of the theological
seminaries (the Baptist Seminary in Odessa does not belong to the Russian
Union of Evangelical Christians/Baptists) and has given inaccurate dates (the
Moscow Theological Seminary of the ECB was founded only in October
1993), but he seems simply to have made up the figures quoted for the
construction costs of the building;
- no plans ever existed to build a theological seminary in Khimki in 1993;
- the author claims that a second fund exists for the construction or acquisition
of a seminary building: no such fund exists.

The fact that this one-sided and tendentious article interviewed leading figures
in the Russian Union of ECB and the Moscow Theological Seminary drew the
attention of a leading secular publication, Nezavisimaya gazeta-religiya, which
reproduced the article under the title 'Nichto chelovecheskoe protestantam ne
chuzhdo [Protestants not immune from human failings]', and gave it an even
more negative slant, indirectly accusing the seminary leadership and the ECB
leadership of misusing funds.

This attempt to create conflict between the Russian Union of Evangelical
Christians/Baptists and the Southern Baptist Convention in the USA, who have
in fact always enjoyed an excellent relationship, undermines the authority of
Keston News Service and damages the credibility of the information that it
publishes not only in Russia but abroad.

In conclusion, I consider it necessary to warn you that if Keston News Service
does not publish a refutation of the aforementioned article and if no apology is
forthcoming, I shall take steps to defend the honour and reputation of the
Russian Union of Evangelical Christians/Baptists, and of the Moscow
Theological Seminary in particular, through the courts.

A.P. KOZYNKO, Doctor of Theology
Rector of the Moscow Theological Seminary

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From: Lawrence Uzzell
Date: 13 March 2000
Subject: Re: Keston News Article
To: Ed Tarlton

Dear Ed,

It was interesting to get your thoughts on Roman Lunkin's article. Appended is
a copy of another article (KNS 4 November 1999 'Does Saint Springs Benefit
the Church' was appended) on which I encourage you to reflect; it's about some
of the dubious financial activities of the Moscow Patriarchate. As a practising
Orthodox Christian, I'm frequently pressured not to write or publish such
material; all too many of my fellow Orthodox want desperately for everyone to
believe that the Moscow Patriarchate can do no wrong. All too often, American
Protestants similarly want the world to believe that Protestant organisations in
Russia can do no wrong. But at Keston our mission is to try to tell the truth as
best we can, and let the chips fall where they may.

You state that "the 'facts' of the article were greatly confused and inaccurate,"
but fail to provide details. Precisely which statements in the article do you
consider to be unfactual or inaccurate, and precisely how so?

You state that our article caused "very disturbing results." Precisely what were
these results, and how did our article cause them?

How much money did the Southern Baptist Convention give to the Union of
Evangelical Christians-Baptists in each of the years since the collapse of the
Soviet Union? How has the money been spent? How much money do you
intend to give next year, and for what purposes?

Did the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists consult the Southern Baptist
Convention before diverting the funds donated for a new seminary building in
Moscow? Did the Southern Baptist Convention approve this diversion? Did the
Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists provide the Southern Baptist
Convention with copies of their financial accounts, in particular those related to
the seminary building fund? If so, could you send us copies of those
documents?

According to a source which Keston has found to be reliable, the Baptist
seminary in Odessa has received no major funding from the Southern Baptist
Convention since 1995. Do you dispute that statement, and if so in what way?
Of the funds diverted from the Moscow seminary construction fund, how much
were sent to the Odessa seminary, how much to Pyotr Konovalchik's
headquarters building in Moscow, and how much elsewhere? When?

The same source tells us that there has been a conflict between Pyotr
Konovalchik and the leadership of the seminary, with Konovalchik's Baptist
Union charging the seminary a lot of money for rent, and trying for the past
five years to push the seminary out of Pastor Konovalchik's headquarters
building. What is your comment? How much does the Baptist Union charge
the seminary for rent?

The same source also tells us that the Slavic Gospel Association, not the
Southern Baptist Convention, is the largest on-going donor to Konovalchik's
Union; and that last year the Slavic Gospel Association tried to take over the
Moscow Baptist seminary by offering a large donation. Reportedly
Konovalchik was on the side of the Slavic Gospel Association, while the
Southern Baptist Convention was on the side of the seminary's successful
struggle to resist this take-over. What is your comment? Do you expect this
take-over attempt to be revived?

Overall, do you think that the money given by American Protestants to
Konovalchik's Union has been well spent? Why or why not?

I look forward to your replies.

Yours faithfully,

Larry
Director, Keston Institute

(END)

Copyright (c) 2000 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.