Central Conference, Russia

By Olga Vorobyova

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Olga Vorobyova

First Published: December 8, 2022

 

The Central Conference is part of the West Russian Union Conference of the Euro-Asia Division.1 The Central Conference was organized in 1994 and reorganized in 2003. Its headquarters is in Serpukhov, Moscow Region, Russian Federation.

Territory: Vladimir Region, Ivanovo Region, Kaliningrad Region, Kostroma Region, Moscow Region (excluding City of Moscow and Moscow vicinity), Smolensk Region, Yaroslavl Region, and Republic of Komi. All eight regions are members of the Russian Federation.

Statistics (June 30, 2021): Churches, 51; membership, 3,460; population, 14,936,241.2 In the Central Conference, the general population per member ratio is 4,317.

Origin of the Adventist Work in the Territory of the Ural Conference

An Adventist congregation existed in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), Germany, as far back as 1895.3 In 1890-1900 the Adventist message was proclaimed in the territory of Russia by former German colonists, who had emigrated from the Russian Empire to North America and acquainted themselves with the teachings of Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Alongside other religious communities and denominations, Adventists faced reprisals and were mostly driven underground under Soviet rule. Still, the Adventist Church grew in strength and made its influence felt across Russia. The history of Adventism in the city of Kovrov (Vladimir Region) dates back to 1943. In 1957 a member of that church, Karp S. Trepak, was convicted by the regional court of the city of Vladimir on the charge that “he, being hostile to the established political order of the USSR, set up a group of sectarians—Adventists, among and through which he carried on anti-Soviet agitation in 1953-57.”

The year 1985 heralded a new era of glasnost and perestroika in the USSR. After many years of prohibition of religious activities, people started to get actively interested in issues of faith. New prayer houses were constructed and many churches and companies were organized. Prominent evangelists from other countries came to the Soviet Union to conduct evangelistic programs in different cities, including the territory of Central Conference. In 1994, an evangelistic event, with the guidance of Svetlana Demko, a conference women’s ministries director, was held in Safonovo (Smolensk Region). This event was supplemented by a health program with the participation of two Adventist qualified doctors from the city of Vyazma. The event resulted in the baptism of 27 persons, with 15 others preparing for baptism.4 In 1997 Pastor A.A. Dyman conducted two evangelistic programs in the cities of Gagarin and Vyazma (Smolensk Region). As a result, 21 were baptized in Gagarin, and 10 in Vyazma. The American pastor Stephen Wallace presented a unique program, Revival, targeted at spiritually weak and disillusioned individuals, in the cities of Smolensk and Ivanovo.5 All told, nine evangelistic campaigns were conducted in 1997 in the territory of Central Conference by Russian and foreign evangelists.6

Organizational History

Central Conference originates from the Central Russian Mission Field, which was organized in 1901 and united Russian-speaking churches. The territory of Central Conference was reorganized time and again throughout its history. For instance, after the year 1934 the conference, known at that time as Central Field, comprised only one church in Moscow and numerous companies, while all other churches ceased to exist. In 1976 the churches within that territory were again united into Central Conference.7

In 1990, the creation of the USSR Division was announced at the 55th session of the General Conference, held in Indianapolis, USA. After many decades of fight, isolation and inner turmoil, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Soviet Union finally became a part of the global family of churches.8 The first meeting of the USSR Division board was held in the Convention Hall of Rossiya Hotel in Moscow from September 11 to 12, 1990.9 In those years the territory of Central Conference comprised the Republic of Karelia and Republic of Komi; Arkhangelsk, Belgorod, Bryansk, Vladimir, Vologda, Voronezh, Ivanovo, Kaliningrad, Kaluga, Kostroma, Kursk, Leningrad, Lipetsk, Moscow, Murmansk, Novgorod, Pskov, Orel, Ryazan, Smolensk, Tambov, Tver, Tula, and Yaroslavl Regions. The conference headquarters was located in Belgorod.10

In 1992-1993 the Euro-Asia Division demonstrated the fastest membership growth in the world (39.7%).11 This rapid growth necessitated further reorganizing the Adventist Church in Russia. In 1994 Central Conference was officially organized and comprised Vladimir Region, Ivanovo Region, Kaliningrad Region, Kostroma Region, Moscow Region, City of Moscow, Smolensk Region, Yaroslavl Region, and Republic of Komi.12 The conference headquarters was relocated to Moscow. On May 21, 1996, the conference was registered by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation as a legal entity, under the name “Central Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”13

On January 14–15, 2003, the delegates of the 4th constituency meeting of Central Conference of the West Russian Union voted for a new reorganization of their denominational entity, with City of Moscow and Moscow vicinity being detached from Central Conference.14 The conference headquarters was relocated from Moscow to Serpukhov (Moscow Region). This reorganization resulted in decreasing the church membership in the conference. The ever-increasing secularity and the rapid loss of interest in spiritual matters have also weakened church growth. However, despite difficulties, the Church continues its mission throughout the territory of Central Conference. Bible classes, relief efforts, and charity concerts are organized. Diverse youth ministries are conducted to provide fellowship for Adventist youth and to organize them to work for the salvation of other young people.

Presidents

Ya.P. Kulakov (1994-1999); F.F. Trikur (1999-2003); V.А. Nikityuk (2004-2011); V.V. Matryashin (2011-2019); P.F. Pavelko (2019-present)

Sources

Odintsov, M. Zhivushchiye nadezhdoy. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2020.

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

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) (v dvukh tomakh). Zaokskiy: Istochnik Zhizni, 2002.

Zaitsev, E.V. Istoriya Tserkvi ASD. Zaokskiy: Istochnik Zhizni, 2008.

Notes

  1. This article was translated from Russian into English by Marina Stanovkina.

  2. “Central Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2022), https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=10072.

  3. John N. Loughborough, The Great Second Advent Movement: Its Rise and Progress (Adventist Pioneer Library, 1992), 411.

  4. D.O. Yunak, Istoriya Tserkvi Adventistov Sed’mogo Dnia v Rossii (1886-2000) (v dvukh tomakh) (Zaokskiy: Istochnik Zhizni, 2002), vol. 2, 564.

  5. Ibid., 578.

  6. Ibid., 575.

  7. Ibid., 678-679.

  8. E.V. Zaitsev, Istoriya Tserkvi ASD (Zaokskiy: Istochnik Zhizni, 2008), 517.

  9. D.O. Yunak, Istoriya Tserkvi Adventistov Sed’mogo Dnia v Rossii (1886-2000) (v dvukh tomakh) (Zaokskiy: Istochnik Zhizni, 2002), vol. 2, 520.

  10. “West Russian Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1994), 100.

  11. E.V. Zaitsev, Istoriya Tserkvi ASD (Zaokskiy: Istochnik Zhizni, 2008), 529.

  12. D.O. Yunak, Istoriya Tserkvi Adventistov Sed’mogo Dnia v Rossii (1886-2000) (v dvukh tomakh) (Zaokskiy: Istochnik Zhizni, 2002), vol. 2, 679.

  13. Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation. Certificate of Registration of the Constitution (Charter) of the Religious Association, No. 374, May 21, 1996.

  14. Minutes of the 4th Constituency Meeting of Central Conference, January 14, 2003. Archives of Central Conference.

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Vorobyova, Olga. "Central Conference, Russia." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 08, 2022. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=ED8L.

Vorobyova, Olga. "Central Conference, Russia." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 08, 2022. Date of access February 26, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=ED8L.

Vorobyova, Olga (2022, December 08). Central Conference, Russia. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 26, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=ED8L.