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Baptist Union of Albania organizes; first resolution addresses refugees


TIRANA, Albania (BP)–The Baptist Union of Albania was organized with a membership of four churches on May 1 at the Palace of Culture in Tirana, according to a May 19 report in European Baptist Press Service.
Delegates from the four churches met to adopt their constitution and statement of faith and to elect officers. A resolution about the Kosovar refugee situation also was adopted. A celebratory worship service followed the delegates’ meeting.
The union’s new officers are Bekim Beka of Tirana, general secretary; Adnan Pula of Tirana, president; and executive committee members Ardian Mazreku, Fation Prenga and Flutura Joca.
The union’s charter-member congregations are Freedom Baptist Church and Way of Hope Baptist Church, both in Tirana; the Baptist Church in Bregu i Lumit; and the Good News Baptist Church in Lezhe.
Special guests at the service included Sokol Mirakaj, Director of the Albanian Department of Religious Affairs; Albert Dosti, president of VUSH (the country’s evangelical alliance); John Keith, retired Canadian Baptist missionary who, with his wife, Virginia, came to Albania in 1991 at the request of the European Baptist Federation to survey Albania for the beginning of a Baptist outreach in the country.
Ole Jørgensen, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Denmark and President-elect of the European Baptist Federation; Yona Pusey of Great Britain, President of the European Baptist Women’s Union; David Martin of Great Britain, representative of the Baptist Missionary Society.
People attending came by ferry from Italy and on airplane flights with schedules dictated by military use of the Tirana airport.
Theo Angelov, president of the Baptist Union of Bulgaria and general secretary-elect of the European Baptist Federation, recounted the combination God used to establish the new Baptist work in Albania — the vision, hard work and sacrifice of Albanian believers and missionaries from abroad and the prayers of believers around the world.
The resolution of the refugee crisis in Albania as a result of the NATO-Yugoslavia conflict said in part that the union “considers the utterly tragic predicament of the multitudes of refugees who have found shelter or are still searching, as a consequence of the ongoing war in Kosovo; expresses its sincere solidarity to the Kosovar brethren forced out of their homes and their land and undergoing the most atrocious suffering for their lost relatives and daily hardships as well as to all those persons in Yugoslavia who suffer the consequences of this war.”
The resolution concludes with the hope that “a just settlement of the Kosovar conflict and an end to the war be found soon, which will allow the Kosovar brethren to return to their homes and land and be reunited with their families in a situation of true peace; [and the union] prays that the God of Peace, who in Jesus Christ has shared the human suffering up to the experience of death, that in His mercy He may comfort and meet the basic needs of all the victims of this war, whatever their ethnic origins.”