This appeared as the lead article in the first edition of the Ukrainian April 9, 1997 Good News
That They May be One
Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one as we are That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Who has not read these words? We know them by heart. And when the time came to fulfill these words of Christ, we didnt resist. The Lord arranged things so that the first meeting, a solemn, joyous meeting united us in the city of Slaviansk (Don Region, the pastor of the Church here is I. S. Torishnii). This was a meeting of historical and international proportions.
Sister E. I. Torishnaia and A. E. Mazhan spent painstaking hours on the legwork leading up to the Conference: they gathered information and numerous letters with questions about work plans and with good wishes for the Conference. Then, the Slaviansk-Kramatorsk Church provided a hall for this service. The brethren responded to the invitation, and the meeting took place on March 6-8, 1992. Many remember those spring worship services. Brethren came from Kherson (and the village of Kamyshan), and from the Churches of Irden and Yurkovka (Kiev Region). Brothers M. A. Tarasiuk from Volyn, V. A. Rozhkov from Moscow, F. P. Klassen and A. V. Volykhin from Dushanbe. Brethren came from the cities of Enakievo, Donets, Lygansk. A representative from the Transcarpathian United Christian SD(??), brother V. I. Mondich also came. More than 40 brothers from 11 churches were in attendance. All agreed to discuss the 10 commandments. You can read the conclusions reached on each of the commandments in the column "Resolutions" (see the Supplement). These conclusions served as the basis of further discussions conducted later in Moldavia at the 4th International Conference. Only a few came to this first meeting in Slaviansk, but it was nevertheless productive, and attested to the words written by David in his Song of Degrees: "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Ps. 133:1).
And as a precious ointment, as the dew of Mt.Hermon, the blessings flowed. We saw them in the likemindedness, the decision to unify, in the joyful tears of the brethren who had gathered at the 2nd International Conference. It had course in the new Prayer House in the village of Rokosovo in the Khust Region of Transcarpathia, on May 30-31, 1992. Over 100 brethren-directors hailing from many churches in the Ukraine, Moldavia, Russian, Tadzhikistan, Kazakhstan, Polyn, Germany, Canada, America, and Denmark came together at this 2nd Conference. The pastor of the Rokosovo church, brother V. M. Roman, took upon himself and his Church the enormous responsibility of hosting this Conference. They cheerfully received the guest and participants of this meeting. There is something of the symbolic in the fact that this meeting was organized to take place in this village. It was precisely in Rokosovo that the spiritual awakening in the Transcarpathians began as early as 1949, and it has remained the center of this movement. It is hard to imagine a resident of this village who would not know brother Mikhail Gavrilovich Palchey (b. 1910), the former pastor of the first spiritual church in Transcarpathia, his labor, advice, and love of those around him. How many prayers he has prayed, how many tears he has shed before God so that he might one day hear about our oneness. We thank God who loves the fact that among our brethren there are such elders who prayed for the freedom of the Word and the unity of the brotherhood while still in prison and in exile. And these prayers were heard. Everyone witnesses the blessings of the Conference. The serious and productive participation and leadership in the Conference offered by the Mission "Nazareth" must be given special mention (the chairman of this organization is V. V. Pavlii of Khust). They provided spiritual literature and humanitarian aid. And many other Conference operations would have been impossible without their assistance. There were many witnesses of the desire to unite: brothers and sisters, heaven and earth, and maybe the trees which were in such abundance around, and the squirrels romping about in them. We also remember those songs we sang those nights (Ps. 77:6) which solemnly resounded from our lips and hearts. We so did not want to part!
Maybe thats why we agreed to hold the next Conference in the village of Roskosovo once again on November 1-2, 1992. Here we made acquaintance with our brethren from Romania. At that Conference we selected brother F. P. Klassen to be the Director of the Union (pastor of the Churchin Dushanbe. Brother E. P. Mertke was chosen as Vice-Director in charge of humanitarian aid. Brother V. I. Mondich was chosen to be the administrative Vice-Director. Brother Mondich, pastor of the Church in Khust, has invested a lot of work in organizing all of the conferences. He took active part in promoting the our brotherhoods project "The Foundations of Doctrine." He devoted a tremendous amount of work to this meeting in terms of prayer, material support, and physical actions. It was no easy task. It was the fruit of the labor of brothers and sisters of all ages, and of course, of the youth from the villages of Roksovo and Khust.
You already know something about the Conference in the city of Beltsy. It was held on May 30-31, 1993. It was here that the name United Charter was adopted and that the groundwork was laid for agreeing on the meaning of the ten commandments. However, they did not complete the task of agreeing on the meaning of all ten commandments at that meeting. They came to a meeting of the minds on the first six (Exodus 20:13), and two resolutions were adopted for the seventh commandment, "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14). You can read about them in the above-mentioned column "Resolutions." We understand all the difficulties of this problem in the modern world. We believe that the Lord will allow us to find a complete solution for it. A lot of young people attended this Conference, perhaps because the youth of the Church in Beltsy took upon themselves the financial and organizational burden of this Conference. The like had never before been heard: in the "House of Rest, where we stayed, we hardly rested at all, but spent the time with one another around the clock. The experience was unique. After the daytime meetings, there were evening services that lasted almost until dawn.
On May 28-30, the Church in Rokosovo hosted the 5th International Conference. Questions were raised as to the duties of the pastors and elders in their Churches. Spreading the gospel was discussed in depth. Brother E. P. Mertke was appointed to oversee preaching the gospel. He has personal experience in conducting such a work. He had just returned from a trip to Altai [Siberia] where he journeyed with a group of young people. Brother Mertke enthusiastically told about those who had "come to the Lord." The inhabitants of this area greeted brother Gosha thats how they know him there. This should be written up in detail. If God permits, we will do this in our next publications. Then brothers Yu. Yu. Lizhenko (pastor of the Church in Poroshkov) and I. A. Pavlii (from the Church in Rokosovo) were selected to head the Publishing Concern. Brother Pavlii has labored intensively on the development of key doctrines during the preparation for the Conference.
The 6th and last International Conference was held in the village of Kushnits from December 31, 1995 through January 2, 1996. This is remarkable village of remarkable people. Brother D. Prodan with his large Church did everything so that the brethren could work and relax. The meeting was jam-packed with information, meetings, and serious discussions. Brother E. Sanders from Canada gave a talk on the doctrinal dogmas of his confession. BrotherV. F. Raichin (pastor of the Svaliavsk Fields Church) gave a presentation entitled "The Triune God," and Yu. Yu. Lizhenko (pastor of the Poroshkov Church) spoke on his understanding of the Divinity. Large works "On Baptism" and about Passover were given by Brother M. A. Tarasiuk (pastor of the Church in Volyn). The texts of these papers were sent to all the brethren for discussion in their individual congregations so that these ideas could be furthered developed for inclusion in our brotherhoods "The Foundation of Doctrine." Sister Alla Pavlii, brother I. V. Yurishko, and their colleagues performed an invaluable service under pressure of strict deadlines when they collected these articles and printed them for distribution.
One might have misgivings that not all of the resolutions were adopted, but there wasnt enough time. Time is a stern boss and does not forgive omissions and errors. We hope that we can at least somewhat make up for lost time until that moment arrives "when there shall be time no more" (Rev. 10:6).
Torishnaia, E. I.
Translated by Darlene Reddaway