Community formation as a key practice of the Ukrainian baptist communities

Formation of a religious community living together. The impact of the formation of the community of practice in modern conditions in the context of Community Baptist. Humility as a guide path, forming relationships and types of activity of the commune.

Рубрика Религия и мифология
Вид автореферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 26.11.2014
Размер файла 54,5 K

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Following the idea of the Christian counselling, I would like also to suggest for the church leaders to teach, to preach, and to spend more time explaining people what the real forgiveness means. Forgiveness should be a heart of our Christian testimony, because “to forgive others is to grant them the power to take up life again. It is to free them from the imprisonment of shame and guilt so they can reconnect to life in hope. All of us must be able to do this. We need… the possibility of picking up the pieces and starting over. Isn't this what Christianity is all about? Isn't it the religion of second chances and new beginnings? And shouldn't Christians, as people who know we live from mercy, extend that same gracious mercy to others?” Ibid., p. 179. Therefore, let no hurt, pain or anguish to become the final word in the life of faith communities.


In the end of this investigation, I would like again to put stress on the significance of the practice of community formation in the life of faith communities in Ukrainian Baptist context. From my point of view, it should be a core which reveals their Christian essence. Practicing the community formation should be a living testimony of the faith communities. This practice also has a mission implication, because it makes a community which is open and hospitable to the outside world. This cultivates a community which does not build the “protective” walls around itself; on the contrary, it breaks these barriers to be communicative with a secular society.

As it was mentioned before, in this dissertation I particularly work with James McClendon's thoughts on the practice of community formation. It implies two subpractices which are defined as sharing in the covenantal meal and reconciliation. N. C. Murphy, (ed.) et al, Virtues & practices in the Christian tradition: Christian ethics after MacIntyre, pp. 85-86. In the same time, I made an attempt in my work to consider the first subpractice with its extended meaning and implication. Here I focused mostly on the particular word “sharing” which contains in two aspects: sharing meal and sharing ourselves.

Sharing meal follows from “the common table” of the Eucharist. Sharing meal can strengthen the unity between people. Precisely, the Eucharist performs the act of this strengthening by sharing in gratitude for God's care and mercy. S. L. Jung, Food for life: the spirituality and ethics of eating, p. 52. The table of sharing meal is open to everyone with a meaningful attitude of unity. Sharing food which is rooted in the Lord's Supper can transform people.

This holistic approach which unites sharing meal and the Eucharist can help to overcome “the gap” in interpretation of sharing meal and the Lord's Supper, C. D. Pohl, Making room: recovering hospitality as a Christian tradition, p. 74. which is still present, from my point of view, among the Baptist communities in Ukrainian context. Arthur Gish points that without this extended understanding it is difficult to see the whole implication of the Eucharistic sacrament. A. G. Gish, Living in Christian community, p. 269. Producing this approach will generate the sense of communion within the community. S. L. Jung, Food for the life: the spirituality and ethics of eating, p. 49.

The second facet of sharing which I explored is sharing ourselves. It implies an attitude of openness and availability toward other people. J. Vanier, Community and growth, p. 210. It means to dedicate ourselves to be with others. T. E. Reynolds, Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality, pp. 125-126. In the same time, this process should be with the mutual reciprocity. D. M. McCarthy, Sex and love in the home, p. 133. This reciprocity puts on the same level availability which is given and availability which is received. Attitude of availability also includes the ability to listen to others. Here I highlighted five special requirements for listening: (1) time, (2) silence, (3) presence / attention, (4) trust / honesty, and (5) remembering.

Consequently, sharing can cultivate the community of koinonia, which implies in itself sharing something with other people. A. G. Gish, Living in Christian community, p. 30. One of the foundations for it is the practicing of the virtue of hospitality. R. Clapp, Families at the crossroads: beyond traditional & modern options, p. 149. It can help to overcome the division of public and private life which is quite often present within the faith communities. R. Clapp, Families at the crossroads: beyond traditional & modern options, p. 156. Hospitality gives the possibility to God to be real God in whole our lives.

The second part of my dissertation focused on another subpractice which is defined as reconciliation. In this section I attempted to show that reconciliation is a whole process of restoring broken relationships. Here I made a connection between sharing and our vulnerability as human beings. In this context, I touched upon the issue of betrayal. It revealed a paradoxical logic that the attitude of openness and practicing of sharing, in the same time, holds in it the seeds of betrayal. R. S. Anderson, The Gospel according to Judas: is there a limit to God's forgiveness?, p. 23. The first step to overcome these painful experience and feelings is forgiveness. I tried to show that forgiveness teaches us to see every person with a value, even if he or she is wrongdoer, because each person bears the image of God. C. D. Pohl, Making room: recovering hospitality as a Christian tradition, p. 65. This attitude points to the difference which exists between “to forgive” and “to forget”. J. Wm. McClendon, Ethics, p. 225.

According to my own observations, today many faith communities are built just on the fine words. Unfortunately, there is a big gap between our words and our living testimony; and society can easily feel and sense it. Many people are crying for truth, J. Vanier, Community and growth, p. 200. because they see this gap. Therefore, in my dissertation I created four suggestions, which touches such spheres as (1) the Eucharist and architecture, (2) food as the experience of the whole community, (3) the discipline of meditation as a practice for the ability to listen, and (4) the Christian counselling. These suggestions could help the Baptist communities in the Ukrainian context to grow and mature in being the communities of sharing and forgiveness.


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