Caucasus Union Mission is a part of the Euro-Asia Division of Seventh-day Adventists. It was organized in 2001 and reorganized in 2018. Its headquarters is in Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation.
Territory: Abkhazia, Azerbaijan; the republics of Adygea, Chechnya, Crimea, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Kalmykia, Karachay-Cherkessia, and North Ossetia-Alania; Krasnodar Territory, Stavropol Territory, and Rostov Region; comprising the Kubano-Chernomorskaya and Rostov-Kalmykia Conferences; the North Caucasus, and Crimea Missions.
Statistics (June 30, 2020): Churches, 133; membership, 7,484; population, 30,846,367.
The South of Russia and the North Caucasus can rightly be called the cradle of Russian Adventism. The first seeds of the Adventist message were sown there by former German colonists who had emigrated from the Russian Empire to the USA and had a chance to familiarize themselves with the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
As long ago as 1882 there were several people in the Taurida Governorate (now the Republic of Crimea) who learned about the Seventh-day Adventist Church and decided to keep the Sabbath according to the commandments of the Law of God.
In January 1886 the General Conference sent Ludwig Richard Conradi to work in Europe. By the time of his arrival in Russia, there were already people (mainly German colonists who resided in the southern regions) familiar with the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its fundamental beliefs.
By the end of the 1880s, scattered groups and small communities of Seventh-day Adventists appeared in many places in the south of the Russian Empire. In order to make the activities of the SDA Church in Russia more organized, it was decided to call a general meeting of representatives of those groups and communities. This meeting was held in November 1890 in the town of Eigenheim in the Caucasus. It is known that the meeting was attended by more than a hundred people who represented the Seventh-day Adventists living in the south of Russia and the Volga territory.
In 1901 the South Russian Conference headquartered in Rostov-on-Don was established. It became the first conference that united 26 Adventist congregations with 787 members (mainly German colonists) in Southern Russia, the Caucasus, and the Volga territory. The conference was headed by H. J. Löbsack.
In 1907 the South Russian Conference was renamed as the East Russian Conference, which was also headed by H. J. Löbsack.
In 1908 this conference was reorganized and renamed the Caucasus Conference, which also included the congregations in Transcaucasia. The conference president was H. J. Löbsak (1908–1909) and then K. A. Reifshneider (1909–1917).
In 1917 the Caucasus Conference was divided into the Azov Conference (chaired by K. A. Reifshneider) and the North Caucasus Conference (chaired by I. F. Ginter).
In the 1920s the North Caucasus Conference was repeatedly reorganized and divided into the North Caucasus, Middle Caucasus, Don and Kubano-Chernomorskaya Conferences.
In 1954 the All-Union Council of Seventh-day Adventists (ACSDA) sent a pastor Pavel Matsanov to Rostov-on-Don to lead the denominational work in the Caucasus region. From 1964 to 1973, the work in the North Caucasus was headed by Pastor P. G. Titkov.
From 1973 to 1981 I. F. Parashchuk was chairing the North Caucasus Conference, which also included Transcaucasia.
The constituency meeting of the North Caucasus Conference that was held in Krasnodar on September 13, 1981, elected A. F. Stele as the conference president. He headed the North Caucasus Conference (NCC) from 1981 to 1984 and then was succeeded by A. N. Osadchuk (1984–1985). In the 1990s, NCC presidents were I. F. Parashchuk (1991–1994), V.Ya. Predolyak (1994–1997), and M.G. Oleynik (from 1997).
Toward the end of the 1990s, the North Caucasus Conference had 106 churches and 52 companies with 7,737 members.
The Caucasus Union Mission (CaUM) was organized on November 6, 2001, as a result of reorganization of the North Caucasus Conference. It included initially the territories of the Russian Federation (Rostov Region, Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, and the Republics of Adygea, Kalmykia, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Dagestan, and Karachay-Cherkessia), the Republic of Abkhazia, and such states as Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
In October 2008 by the decision rendered jointly by GC and ESD, CaUM was reorganized into two union missions: the Caucasus Union Mission proper and the Trans-Caucasus Union Mission, the latter comprising the territories of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
In 2017 the Republic of Crimea, the federal city of Sevastopol (the Crimea Mission), and Azerbaijan were included in the CaUM.
Today the Caucasus Union Mission has its own action strategy, specific objectives, and goals. The emphasis is placed on the distribution of missionary books, newspapers, magazines and other literature, conducting of evangelistic congresses, and evangelism in big cities as part of the project The Cities of Hope. According to the results of the realization of the missionary project on the distribution of Ellen G. White's book The Great Controversy, a total of 450,000 copies were distributed within the CaUM territory in 2012 and2013, thus allowing CaUM to rank the first among ESD unions in the number of distributed books per church member.
In addition, the CaUM is actively engaged in various types of social service, including the ADRA activities, healthy lifestyle promotion, financial assistance of and spiritual support for orphanages and children from troubled families, and charity concerts and events. The health exhibitions and anti-tobacco campaigns take place annually in almost all cities and towns in the CaUM territory. Another area of medical evangelism is the opening of Adventist health centers and sanatoriums.
The missionary magazine Health and Healing, published by the CaUM Health Ministries Department, became a big blessing in our Christian service.
The Caucasus Union Mission publishes a monthly information and analytical newspaper The New Hope. The CaUM headquarters also accommodates the Caucasus Nadezhda Media Studio and the Museum of History of the SDA Church in the Caucasus.
Due to decades of persecution, historical sources were very often not preserved in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and as a result, Adventist history in Russia and other successor states of the USSR is dependent on collective memory and oral traditions, on which this article draws.
Archives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the USSR. Reports of the Board meetings of ACSDA, 1920-1934.
Loebsack, G.I. Velikoye Adventistskoye dvizheniye i Adventisty Sed’mogo Dnia v Rossii. Rostov-na-Donu: Altair, 2006.
Parasey, A.F., and Zhukalyuk, N.A. Bednaya, brosaemaya bureyu. Kiev: Dzherelo Zhyttia, 1997.
Teppone, V.V. Iz istorii Tserkvi Adventistov Sed’mogo Dnia v Rossii. Kaliningrad: Yantarnyy Skaz, 1993.
Yunak, D.O. Istoriya Tserkvi Adventistov Sed’mogo Dnia v Rossii (1886-2000). Zaokskyi: Istochnik Zhizni, 2002, Vol. 1.
Zaitsev, E.V. Istoriya Tserkvi Adventistov Sed’mogo Dnia v Rossii. Zaokskiy: Istochnik Zhizni, 2008.
H. J. Löbsack, Velikoye Adventistskoye dvizheniye i Adventisty Sed’mogo Dnia v Rossii (Rostov-na-Donu: Altair, 2006), 160-162, 167.↩