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Russian Baptists embrace Empowering Kingdom Growth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Empowering Kingdom Growth is spreading across the formerly closed nation of the Russian Federation.

EKG, the emphasis that began in the South Carolina Baptist Convention more than a decade ago and now has been adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention, was first introduced to the leaders of the Russian Baptist Union (RBU) in July 2003 by B. Carlisle Driggers, executive director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Driggers was participating in a leadership retreat along with Jere Phillips, associate professor of practical theology and director of the practical missions office at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tenn., and former executive director of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists, and Ed Tarleton, regional strategy associate for European Russia for the SBC International Mission Board.

During a retreat for the RBU’s General Council, Driggers, Phillips and Tarleton reviewed the Kingdom principles of EKG and how those principles could be used among Russian Baptists. Participants from the Russian Baptist Union included the president, vice president and seven regional vice presidents, along with three national department directors.

One night, the Russian leaders went into a prayer meeting at 10 that lasted until 2:30 a.m. Afterward, they declared that God was leading them to make Empowering Kingdom Growth a national ministry focus.

Driggers’ book, “A Journey of Faith and Hope,” and the EKG planning process known as “Thy Kingdom Come” have since been translated into Russian, with 5,000 copies published for the 1,450 RBU churches.

At the end of March 2004, Driggers and Phillips returned to Moscow to lead a training conference for General Council members as well as the 54 district superintendents of the Russian Baptist Union. Also participating were Ed Tarleton and Russell Kyzar, IMB strategy associate for central and eastern Russia. Helping to organize the conference and providing translation for Driggers and Phillips was Fiodor Baraniuk, director of the RBU Sunday School department and associate director of its international department.

Reflecting on two conferences, Tarleton wrote, “During my 10 years of service in Moscow, there have been multiple conferences addressing the needs of the Russian Baptist Union. I have never seen anything, though, that is having such immediate and wonderful impact as the Empowering Kingdom Growth seminars for all 60-plus leaders of the Russian Baptist Union. A mere 10 years ago, this same group of leaders was struggling to define their vision for the Russian Baptist Union. The RBU leaders are now talking excitedly about their visions, values and key result areas for impacting God’s Kingdom. Dr. Driggers and Dr. Phillips built upon their initial conference in July 2003 and took the March conference to a whole new level of impact and effectiveness.”

The district superintendents received copies of the EKG material for each of their churches. They are now conducting district training conferences across the 11 time zones of the Russian Federation among the churches of the Russian Baptist Union.

Southern Baptists have long prayed for God to open the doors to Russia. As EKG expands into these churches, Russian Baptists will be better equipped to continue and expand the Kingdom of God among their own people for years to come.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: EKG IN RUSSIA.

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