The start of General Conference is well underway, and who should make the New York Times, but the Methodists.
I figured it wouldn't be long before this happened, and I have been cringing waiting for the headlines to start spewing forth in all manner of newspapers, blogs, and media outlets with all of our internal fights made big for the world to see. Once again driving perceptions of Christians into the ground.Only, this time things took a bizarre twist.
The Russian Orthodox Church and Vladimir Putin, along with the Kremlin seem to be driving the Methodists out of Russia. There is a tinge of mistrust of "Western Churches" especially the Protestant Movement. So, when Putin decided to be a churchman at the Russian Orthodox Church, everything took a turn to the state. The Russian Orthodox Church became the primary church of the land.
In the midst of our own elections in this country, and every church clamoring for the President to be from their denomination, and the Presidential Candidates clamoring for the endorsement of every denomination they can muster, I find it interesting that the choice of the President Putin has put the denominations in Russia on notice.
As one who is seeking ground to find a place for God to become real, I give him applause. If he is able to spur the Russian people to unity in a single church (possibly at the expense of "other" denominations) without losing ground in the faithful, or growing the population of worshipers and disciples, I would applaud that as well.
It isn't about denomination, though we make it so from time to time. My prayer is with President Putin, the Russian people and especially the Russian Orthodox Church that God would be revealed in their love for neighbor, overcoming the ties to denominations, for the sake of the Gospel. May this not just be another power play by another national leader to incorporate the might of the church for their cause of "might makes right".