Over the last few days, the world has been watching as events unfold in Ukraine. The buildup of Russian forces surrounding the country has now closed in and is laying siege to its capital city of Kyiv. At TGC, we’ve heard reports from local missionaries, pastors, and church planters within Ukraine, each expressing their desire to faithfully serve their nation at this difficult time.
In this context, seminaries from former Soviet Republics have issued a statement condemning Russian aggression, confessing allegiance to Christ, and urging Christians everywhere to pray for peace. Four are evangelical schools in Ukraine: Evangelical Reformed Seminary of Ukraine, Kyiv Theological Seminary, Odessa Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary of Donetsk, and Taurian Christian Institute. Three others are located in countries formerly controlled by the Soviet Union—Latvia, Kazakhstan, and Germany—and two are unnamed schools currently in Russia.
During the era of the U.S.S.R., atheism was promoted within those countries and though not outright banned, Christianity was heavily regulated and discouraged. While the former Soviet countries now have freedom of religion, the schools in Russia still face direct persecution for speaking out. The Russian Federation government has reportedly already detained 2,692 anti-war protesters since the invasion of Ukraine began on Thursday, according to Russian human rights media group OVD-Info. President Vladimir Putin began increasing government control over religion in 2016 with a law banning evangelism in the country. The country also requires all clergy, religious leaders, and missionaries who were trained outside the country to take a course in “state-confessional relations in the Russian Federation” and then become recertified by a centralized religious organization.
The Christian Church has been instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Created by the Word of God and directed by the Holy Spirit, the Church confesses one Lord and Savior Jesus, his gospel and law. Therefore, as part of the Church and under the Lordship of Christ, we are called to speak the truth and expose deceit (Eph. 4:15; 4:25).
In the light of Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine, we consider it necessary to strongly condemn the open and unjustified aggression aimed at destroying the statehood and independence of Ukraine and based on blatant lies from the lips of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and the country’s top leadership.
We reject Putin’s mythical narrative, which has nothing to do with historical reality, about the alleged artificial creation of the Ukrainian state. We condemn Putin’s cynical lies about Ukraine’s alleged genocide of the people in the east of the country, lies that Putin uses to satisfy his own geopolitical ambitions, which are clearly contrary to God’s revelation (Deut. 27:17; Prov. 22:28).
We confess the real and unlimited power of God over all countries and continents (Ps. 24:1), as well as over all kings and rulers (Prov. 21:1); therefore, nothing in all creation can interfere with the fulfillment of the good and perfect will of God. We, together with the first Christians, affirm “Jesus is Lord,” and not Caesar.
We express solidarity with the people of Ukraine. We share the pain of those who have already lost their loved ones. We pray that all of the aggressor’s plans would be thwarted and put to shame. We call on all people of good will around the world to resist the lies and hatred of the aggressor. We call on everyone to petition for a cessation of hostilities and to exert every possible influence on the Russian Federation in order to stop the unmotivated aggression toward Ukraine.
We ask you to pray for peace for the people of Ukraine and for courage and wisdom for Christian churches so that they continue to serve those in need.
We pray for our authorities and put our hope in the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who is, and remains, our refuge and our fortress, even in time of war (Ps. 46).
Evangelical Reformed Seminary of Ukraine
Baltic Reformed Theological Seminary (Riga, Latvia)
Evening Reformed Seminary (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
Kyiv Theological Seminary
Odessa Theological Seminary
Reformed Theological Seminary of Donetsk (temporarily located in Kyiv)
Reformed Theological Seminary Heidelberg (Germany)
Seminary in Western Russia (we withhold the name of the seminary)
Seminary in Western Siberia, Russia (we withhold the name of the seminary)
Taurian Christian Institute (Kherson)
Editors’ note (Monday, February 28): An additional school—Poltava Theological Seminary in central Ukraine—has added its name to the joint statement.