By Tamica Smith-Jeuitt, Sr. Communications Specialist
David Newton from the Mississippi Annual Conference chats via Skype with UM partner Sarah Rakhmankulova who is 5,600 miles away in Russia.
Good communication is often attributed to successful partnerships. For this purpose, Sarah Rakhmankulova, the liaison for the Russian United Methodist Church to the Mississippi Annual Conference is circulating the first quarterly newsletter to inform the conference of progress towards its initiative to create new places for new people in Russia and develop resources for discipleship formation for laity in that area as well.
Rakhmankulova, a native of Mississippi lives in Moscow with her husband Artur, who is a Russian pastor. Sharing the journey to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world has meant holding small group meetings in their apartment to begin a new church in Moscow.
The couple was introduced to the Mississippi Annual Conference during the 2013 session by the conference's episcopal leader, Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.
"I cannot say how much it means to know that my home conference is supporting me. On good days, the POWER of We gives me a platform from which I can connect to people and bring ideas to life in ways that would otherwise be unimaginable....Without the Mississippi Conference support, I would be a pastor's wife with a big heart but too little time and influence to make a meaningful impact for the Kingdom of God or the UMC here in Russia," she said.
Rakhmankulova also regularly communicates via the voice over service, Skype with David Newton, the United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) coordinator for the Mississippi Annual Conference. One of their latest discussions was about creating a Spiritual Formation Academy in Russia. This would involve English-speaking laity from Eurasia to attend an academy in the United States so that they can then help to translate materials, adapt them to the Russian context and help implement the academy in Eurasia.
Currently, Rakhmankulova is teaching three levels of English classes to Russian pastors. She said her advance students are studying Bishop Swanson's Core Values DVD for listening and vocabulary. She welcomes and hopes to hear from Mississippi United Methodist congregations, particularly those interested in working with United Methodist in Russia. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Financial support may be sent to the Mississippi Annual Conference office designated "Russia-Mississippi Partnership." Checks should be mailed to: Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church, 320-A Briarwood Drive, Jackson, MS 39206.
The first newsletter can be viewed here.