Visit to Sabbatarians in Portland April 20, 2013

While in Portland, Oregon, for the Northwest area ministerial conference I visited a few Ukrainian/Russian Sabbatarian congregations. With some of these people we have had a relationship that can best be described as one of friendship going back to 1991 when the USSR fell apart and some of the Sabbatarians were able to emigrate to the United States under the Helsinki Human Rights Accord authored in large part by Jimmy Carter, US President in the late 1970's. This accord allowed persecuted minorities, including Sabbath-keepers, to find asylum for their beliefs in the United States.  Several thousand have come to the US in the past 20 years.  Most have settled in the Portland, Oregon, area where more than 80,000 Russians of all sorts live. I have traveled to Ukraine many times to visit congregations there and have helped organize outreach activities with Ambassador Foundation and Ambassador College since 1994.  

Sabbatarian girl recites Psalms in Church services

Last Sabbath morning, Beverly, Colleen Hofer, a Portland UCG member of Ukrainian descent, and I went to services at the Church of Christians of the Seventh Day.  They have a membership of 800 that meet in three congregations.  They do not allow driving on the Sabbath and their members walk. Most live within a 30 minute walk of the meeting halls, of which there are two. One has two services for two congregations at their own hall and the third congregation meets in a rented hall. I gave my sermon in Ukrainian and spoke about my belief in the Sabbath, the Kingdom of God and how the Kingdom was understood best by the keeping of the Holy Days. There were two other sermons, about 25 minutes each, along with a Bible Study discussion session for about half an hour. At one point in the sermon about five children came up front and recited Bible verses. 

Two of their members traveled to Zambia last fall and kept the Feast with nearly 300 of our people outside Lusaka.  After services we walked about three blocks to one of their members' home where three of their pastors and I spent about three hours in discussion on subjects centering on keeping the Holy Days, Marriage and Divorce, the Work of the Church, humanitarian outreach and more. In Portland there are two religious radio stations that broadcast in Russian and this church has a mid-week call-in discussion program where they discuss their beliefs.   

Towards evening I went over to the other church called Home Church of God. We know many of their members, as we have seen them in Ukraine and have followed their emigration to the United States. This church has about 1000 members and has congregations in both Portland and across the Columbia River in Vancouver where they have built a beautiful brand new church building seating 700. Currently only 350 attend, but they are continually growing.  

Both these groups have helped our UCG brethren with generous donations for water wells in Malawi and Zambia. In the last few years they have given us over $15,000. You can see the stories of their financed projects for LifeNets at 

I asked the first group about why they were so generous to us in Africa.  They said it was because of our years of service and help to Ukraine.  Our biggest project in Ukraine in the past ten years has been support of the Vinogradov Street Children and Orphans. You can see a YouTube video of our work there at 

One of the most significant areas where we can help the Sabbatarians is in providing translation of our literature. We already have several key booklets translated into Russian. I brought over a sampling of all we had. More and more are keeping the Holy Days and had special interest in our Holy Day booklet that lays out their meaning with exceptional clarity.

- Victor Kubik