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Catherine Wanner

Monday, March 15, 2010
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute / SSWB

Catherine Wanner, associate professor of history and religious studies, Pennsylvania State University. This lecture is sponsored by the Center for Russian and East European Studies.

After the collapse of the USSR, a tolerant legal and political climate emerged in Ukraine toward foreign religious organizations which prompted many of them to make Ukraine a base for evangelizing potential believers in Eurasia. Ukrainian believers possess the cultural capital to effectively "witness" to former Soviet citizens and they are able to elude state policies designed to stem the flow of "foreign" missionaries proselytizing "non-traditional" faiths.

The missionizing strategies of two transnational Ukrainian megachurches reveal how these organizations envision reversing the rampant secularism they perceive in Eurasia. One organization to be considered is currently the largest evangelical megachurch in Europe. Founded in Kyiv in 1994 by a self-taught Nigerian Pentecostal pastor, the church has over 25,000 members in 38 congregations in Ukraine and 18 abroad. Using faith healing techniques, this church developed its own drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that it has exported to Russia and Europe. The second is a charismatic evangelical church that began in Sydney, Australia and now has a thriving base in Kyiv. Its "volunteer army" engages in charitable outreach to orphans and youth at risk. These missionizing strategies and the global networks that support them tie Ukraine to Eurasia and its Soviet past every bit as much as they insert Ukraine into global Christian movements.
The International Institute's Winter 2008 Lecture Series, "Religious Claims and Crossings," explores contemporary global, social, and political dynamics of religious authority and conversion. All lectures are free and open to the public. For more details, including dates and locations, please visit