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Euro-Asia youth congress held in Ukraine for first time

Many come from countries with limited religious freedom

Euro-Asia youth congress held in Ukraine for first time

A Ukrainian singing group performs at the Euro-Asia Division Youth Congress in Kiev last week. About 2,000 youth from 13 countries met at the Ukrainian Adventist Center of Higher Education for the five-day event. [photos courtesy ESD]

Top church leaders said a youth congress held last week in Ukraine was an inspiration for those who live in free societies. It also showcased Seventh-day Adventist youth living out their faith in new, meaningful ways.

Many of the 2,000 attendees came from countries that still face challenges to religious freedom.

“They inspired us with their vibrancy, joy and freedom in repackaging their faith in the most relevant and meaningful way for their generation,” said Gilbert Cangy, Youth Ministries director for the Adventist world church.

The Euro-Asia Division Youth Congress, held every five years, convened outside of Russia for the first time. This year’s congress met on the campus of Ukrainian Adventist Center of Higher Education in Kiev from August 21 to 25.

“We wanted to inspire young people in their spiritual growth. Hundreds experienced spiritual renewal at the congress,” said Gennady Kasap, the division’s Youth Ministries director.

Adventist world church President Ted N. C. Wilson greeted the group in Russian in his address. He previously served as president of the division from 1992 to 1996. Wilson later said, “It thrills my heart to see so many young people on fire for Jesus and who are anxious for God to give them the power to serve him.”

Attendees participated in educational workshops on campus and community service throughout Kiev and nearby cities. Twenty bus-loads of youth and young adults helped clean parks, streets and railways.

Winners of a Bible trivia competition were awarded trips to upcoming denominational spiritual gatherings: the third place winner received a trip to the European Youth Congress in Serbia; second place won a trip to the 2013 World Youth Congress in South Africa; and the first place winner won the opportunity to attend the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas, United States.

The Euro-Asia Division is comprised of 13 countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

The division reports a membership of approximately 138,000.