With more than 6,000 people killed and 1.2 million internally displaced in the last year, how should the global church respond to the Ukrainian conflict?
Around 60 delegates and observers grappled with this question at the London Consultation, a special event organized by BMS and Mission Eurasia on April 28 at Lambeth Palace, the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Seated around a horseshoe of tables, delegates were from Ukraine, Russia, the United Kingdom and across Europe from a variety of denominations, Christian organizations and humanitarian agencies.
Observers surrounded the delegates, including a number of Baptist ministers invited by BMS.
The event was conducted in three languages: Ukrainian, Russian and English, with simultaneous translations available to delegates working across boundaries of nationality, church and culture.
Over four sessions, speakers explored different aspects arising from the conflict: the concept of the “Russian worldview” and how certain ideologies within it may be driving the current crisis in Ukraine, how Christians should react to Ukraine’s humanitarian needs, threats to religious freedom and human rights, and developing a reconciliation process.
The day also included a session of spirited open discussion.
Delegates signed a resolution at the close of the consultation, calling on the global Christian community and humanitarian agencies to acknowledge what is happening in Ukraine and to develop a practical response to support the Ukrainian people.
At the signing, BMS global ambassador David Coffey joined hands with Yuri Sipko, former president of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Russia, and Mykhailo Panochko, president of the Evangelical Faith of Ukraine; each prayed in their own languages.
The symbolism of them joining together in prayer for Ukraine was an abiding image from a conference that hopefully bears fruit of solidarity, justice and reconciliation.
The full text of the London Consultation resolution is available here.
Chris Hall is the editor of BMS World Mission’s Engage magazine. A version of this news article first appeared on the BMS website and is used with permission. You can follow Chris on Twitter @chrishallnewb and BMS @BMSWorldMission.