The Russian postal service has issued a stamp portraying the Seventh-day Adventist church building in Ryazan, Russia.
The Adventist stamp is part of a 14-stamp series, according to Valery Ivanov, communication director for the Adventist Church in the Euro-Asia region. Other religious buildings pictured on the stamps represent the Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Baptist, Pentecostal, and Lutheran faiths. Ivanov says that the religion department of the Russian presidential administration initiated the series in order to display the traditional religions of Russia and their unique architecture.
By including Adventists and several other minority faiths in the stamp series, Russia has validated the status of these groups as traditional religious organizations that have a right to operate under Russian law, says Ivanov. However, many other minority groups, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Salvation Army, were not included and continue to fight against discriminatory laws throughout the country. Even legally registered minority religions, including Adventists and Baptists, face government restrictions in some parts of Russia and in most former Soviet republics.
Still, Ivanov says the stamp is an important sign of recognition and a source of pride for the nation’s far-flung Adventists. “This is the first time in Russian history that our church has been featured on a stamp,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity and a constant reminder of our existence.”
The stamp nearly sold out within two days of its issue, prompting the postal service to order a second printing, reports V. V. Fedulov, stamp department director of the central Moscow post office.
The Ryazan church was selected partly because its design is typical of Protestant churches in Russia. The building was constructed in the mid-1990s under the sponsorship of Faith For Today, an Adventist television ministry based in California. Much of the labor was done by local Russian Adventists and volunteers from abroad.