Baptism in the Adventist church in city Ashgabat.

Photo courtesy of D.O. Yunak. 

Turkmenistan Field

By Jón Hjörleifur Stefánsson, and Dmitry O. Yunak

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Jón Hjörleifur Stefánsson, M.A., is a Ph.D. candidate, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

Dmitry O. Yunak graduated in Finance and Economics from a Soviet secular educational institution and completed a six-year course of Theology at an underground SDA Theological Institute (Moldova, USSR). In the Soviet times, he served as a pastor, administrator, and bible/history professor in the underground Theological Institute. In 1990, he was appointed as Treasurer and Publishing Ministries Director for the USSR Division. After the Euro-Asia Division was organized in 1991, Dmitry O. Yunak served as ESD auditor and under treasurer. He was the author of a dozen of SDA history books and scores of other publications. He owns a major SDA history archive.

The Turkmenistan Field is a Central Asian church unit that comprises Turkmenistan. It was organized in 2002.

Territory and Statistics1

Period: 2002–

Territory: Turkmenistan

Population: 5,778,000

Membership: 94

Churches: 1

Origin of Seventh-day Adventist Work in the Territory

Adventists arrived to Turkmenistan most likely in the early twentieth century. The earliest mention of Adventist work in the country is the mention of a six-member church in Ashgabat in a report for the Russian Union for the second quarter of 1908.2 For the origin of Adventist work in Turkmenistan, see the article on the country.

The country was part of several Central Asian church units before it became an independent field. It was first part of the Turkestan Mission (1911–1925), the Central Asian Conference and later Mission (1926–28, 1929–c. 1930), then Central Asia was not listed in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook for most of the Soviet era. Turkmenistan was then part of the Asian-Caucasian Conference (1989–1994) and the Central Asia Conference (1994–2002).

Organizational History

In 1911, the Adventists in Turkmenistan were united in the Turkestan Missionary Field. In 1921, the Turkestan Missionary Field was renamed the Central Asia Field. In 1923, by the decision of the All-Union Council of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor I. T. Klimenko moved and settled down in Ashkhabad.

In 1926 the Central Asia Field was reorganized into the Central Asia Conference, headed by K. F. Remfert. However, the repressions of the 1930s severely affected the Adventists in Turkmenistan.

In the mid-1970s the church in Ashkhabad was served by Pastor Vladimir Vysotskiy. Pastor Alexander Kondratov served in Ashkhabad until 1980. In 1981, the Church in Turkmenistan was included in the Asia-Transcaucasia Conference.

In 1983, Pastor Vyacheslav F. Chubarov moved to Ashkhabad. He managed to register the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Turkmenistan with the Council for Religious Affairs in 1988, and two years later he registered the Adventist congregation of 20 members with the Ashkhabad city administration. From 1993-1996 the Adventists in Ashkhabad were served by Pastor Pavel M. Nikulshin. The new system of government at that time required churches in Turkmenistan to reregister, but the Adventist Church was refused reregistration in 1994. Only Muslims and Orthodox believers retained official registration.

In November 1999 Turkmenistan authorities gave orders to knock down the Adventist church building in Ashkhabad within one week. As a result, the structure that had stood for seven years was torn down. By that time, there were 80 members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Turkmenistan.3 However, and against all the odds, the Church survived and performed its ministry in small groups.

In 2002, the Central Asia Conference of the Southern Union was divided into church units according to country: the Kyrgyzstan Conference, the Tajikistan Mission, the Turkmenistan Field, and the Uzbekistan Mission.4 The church unit first appeared in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook of 2004. Headquarters were at Botkina 7A, Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Membership was 69. Initial officers listed were President Paul N. Fedotov and Secretary-Treasurer D. D. Kakabaev.5

On May 31, 2004, the state finally granted the church’s registration as a legal religious body in the country.6

In 2006 the headquarter address changed to 4 Mikrorayon, 2oy Poezd Sawrasova, 2/2, Apt. 8, Ashgabat,7 and in 2010 to 3 Mikrorayon, Andaliba Street, 47/7, Apt. 8, Ashgabat.8

As of the end of 2017, the Turkmenistan Missionary Field, headed by Olga Kholopova, was comprised of one church and two companies with 95 members. The Turkmenistan Missionary Field is a part of the Southern Union Mission.

List of Presidents

Paul N. Fedotov, 2002–2009; Olga S. Kholopova, 2009–.

Sources

ACSDA Archives, 1920-1934, part 2.

Maslina Magazine Supplement, No. 6, 1908.

Löbsack, G. I. Velikoye Adventistskoye dvizheniye i Adventisty Sed’mogo Dnia v Rossii. Rostov-na-Donu: Altair, 2006.

Pankratova, Larisa. “Ekologiya very.” Blagovestnik, No.1, 2001.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Yunak, D. O. Podvig stradaniy. Istoriya Tserkvi ASD v Sredney Azii. Tula, 2007. Personal Archives.

Notes

  1. “Turkmenistan Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2018), 77.

  2. Information provided by Dmitry Yunak based on oral traditions.

  3. See Dmitry Yunak, Podvig stradaniy. Istoriya Tserkvi ASD v Sredney Azii (Tula, 2007).

  4. “Southern Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2004), 92–93.

  5. “Turkmenistan Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2004), 93.

  6. Yunak, Podvig stradaniy.

  7. “Turkmenistan Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2006), 95.

  8. “Turkmenistan Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2010), 97.

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Stefánsson, Jón Hjörleifur, Dmitry O. Yunak. "Turkmenistan Field." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed May 13, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AD7M.

Stefánsson, Jón Hjörleifur, Dmitry O. Yunak. "Turkmenistan Field." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access May 13, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AD7M.

Stefánsson, Jón Hjörleifur, Dmitry O. Yunak (2021, April 28). Turkmenistan Field. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 13, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AD7M.