Russia - (Europe)
Information about Russia
There are only a few Ref communities in the vast territory of Russia. Their existence owes to particular historical circumstances. Russia belongs to the sphere of Eastern Orthodoxy. For a long time the message of the Reformation did not find an entrance into the country. Protestantism was brought to Russia through migration and later through intentional missionary efforts. The earliest trace of a Ref community goes back to the 17th century (cf. no. 1). In the 18th century the Russian Tsars, especially Catherine the Great, invited German farmers to establish themselves in the Volga area; among them there were many Prot, Luth, and Ref. In the first half of the 19th century the Basel Mission was active among them. During World War II the German-speaking population was deported to Siberia by Stalin. The scattered communities today belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The fall of the Marxist regime of the Soviet Union and the introduction of religious freedom gave rise to new developments. In certain circles Ref teaching met with spontaneous interest; Ref communities were founded by Russian Christians (cf. no. 2). The new opportunities were also seized by many evangelistic and missionary movements in all parts of the world. Hundreds of groups became active in Russia — some with considerable, others with limited success. These efforts caused resentment and hostility within the Russian Orthodox Church and vast parts of the population. Government and parliament have responded by introducing a more restrictive law on religious freedom (1997).
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