The EBF Executive took the decision to cancel the planned EBF Council meeting in St Petersburg, Russia from 23-26 September 2020.
The decision was taken because of the continuing severe restrictions on travel and gathering together (social distancing) due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many of which are still likely to be in place by September.
EBF leaders will now work on a creative online opportunity for the EBF Council to come together during those days for both inspiration and to include necessary business. This will also include the Annual Meeting of IBTSC, Amsterdam. The Search Group set up to identify a new EBF General Secretary from September 2021 will find a way to bring its recommendations to the Council at a later date.
In conversation with Russian Baptist leaders, the EBF has made a commitment to plan for its 2022 Council to be held in Russia. And that when it is possible to do so - hopefully later this year – a combined EBF and BWA delegation might visit Russia to meet with Baptist leaders as well as other religious and political leaders.
Meanwhile the EBF will continue to forge ahead with planning for its larger event, the ‘SENT’ Mission Summit for 1700 participants, to be held in Stavanger, Norway from July 21-24, 2021. The Registration for this event will open in July this year.
Tony Peck, EBF General Secretary, commented:
Of course, we are very sorry not to be gathering in September for the first-ever EBF Council in Russia. Russian Baptists continue to pass through some challenging times and we wanted to be there to stand with them and express our solidarity on Christ. However, uncertainties about travel, visa and quarantine restrictions, as well as the necessity of social distancing in such an international gathering – all these factors combined made it inevitable that we would have to cancel our face-to-face gathering together this year. But during those days we will plan for a meaningful online opportunity to bring our EBF family together.
We are very grateful for the leadership of Russian Baptist President, Peter Mitskevich at this time, and also those in St Petersburg who have helped us a lot so far. They have assured us that they fully understand our decision.
BWA General Secretary, Elijah Brown, has agreed with us that as soon as it is possible a delegation from EBF and BWA will visit Russia and we will look forward to that visit and the opportunities it will bring.
Now we realise that our SENT event in July 2021 in Stavanger, Norway, will be even more significant. It may well be the first opportunity we will have to come together as the larger EBF family once the Covid-19 crisis is over, as we hope and pray. We are well ahead with the planning and we believe that this will be a time when we can celebrate all that God is doing among us and through us, and listen together for His voice directing us to our future life and mission. We encourage our member Unions to be already planning their delegation to join us then.
Photo: EBF Council 2019, Glasgow. Shane McNary