NEWS FROM GEORGIA

Posted on 03 March 2013
The Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia have released the following Press Release

On the 22nd February the congregation at the Peace Cathedral in Tbilisi warmly acclaimed Rev. Dr. Stephen Dray, Minister of Ferndale Baptist Church, as Honorary Professor within the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia. The presentation was made by Bishop Rusudan Gotsridze.

Though unable to be present, Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili, spoke of this unique appointment of Dr. Dray as ‘recognition of his international reputation as a teacher, writer, editor and pastor’ and a reflection of ‘his contribution within the life of our Church’. Bishop Ilia Osepashvili also spoke of Dr. Dray’s having made a ‘significant contribution to the academic and educational life’ of the Church’s School of Elijah.

Prof. Dray has made an ongoing commitment to teach in Georgia and to help develop a programme of training that achieves higher educational excellence. He was able to openly discuss possibilities while in Tbilisi with the Rector of one of the country’s most prestigious universities. He has also provided a number of textbooks on biblical subjects that it is hoped will be translated into Georgian and provide the basis for the ongoing equipping of the Church leaders.

Prof. Dray notes that the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia is faced with the huge needs of the surrounding society where street children are still to be found, poverty is rife (especially among the elderly) and there are huge numbers of internally displaced refugees who have fled from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Despite their limited resources the Church is active in ministries directed to each of these groups. The Church runs an orphanage, a home for the old and displaced, provides a soup kitchen, meals and educational support for the poor and homeless and has supported religious minorities (especially the Muslims) who have suffered from persecution by the authorities.

During this visit, Prof. Dray was able to establish contact with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES). Seven workers in three university cities work on a shoestring (£20,000) to maintain the work. However, the poverty of the churches is such that 2012 still ran with a 40% deficit budget. The IFES group would appreciate fellowship and support from Britain and would especially welcome small groups of students to assist them with Summer Camps in their spectacularly beautiful country.

Our congratulations go to our minister!

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