One of the leading Russian religion experts Roman Lunkin, Dr. of Political Science, Head of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society of the Russian Academy of Sciences, shares his impressions of the 12th Prayer Breakfast on his Facebook page:
“There hadn’t been such a well-represented meeting of Christian leaders for a long time. There was an All-Russian Prayer Breakfast in St. Petersburg sponsored by the foundation of the same name (headed by Nikolai Smagin) and the Russian Evangelical Alliance (headed by Vitali Vlasenko). It gathered pastors from the Northwestern Region and from other regions of Russia.
“The Prayer Breakfast is traditionally held by Protestant churches, inviting politicians, academics, government officials, and representatives of all Christian confessions. Such breakfasts have been held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Siberia and the Uralic region for 20 years. However, the Prayer Breakfast in the northern capital surpassed all expectations. This is how it was different:
“— there were all Christian confessions there, in the front rows were, among others, Pentecostal pastor Dmitri Shatrov of the Good News Church and the Baptist leader Viktor Sipko.
— there were Russian Orthodox clergy who received a blessing to participate from Metropolitan Barsanuphius. One of the priests was Vyacheslav Kharinov, biker, pathfinder, and just a wonderful man.
— the government was represented by highly respected Vladimir Ivanov, a department head in the [city governor’s] administration.
— a feeling speech was given by Andrei Gaidamaka, the former Vice-President of Lukoil and head of the National Prayer Meal Foundation.
— on behalf of the Foundation, Nikolai Smagin awarded both a doctor who treated Covid-19 patients and Lutheran missionaries and Fr. Vyacheslav Kharinov for his work.
“In fact, it’s even hard to imagine such a level of dialog and trust elsewhere.
“We heard very vivid words from Head of the Russian Evangelical Alliance Vitali Vlasenko about solidarity and assistance during the pandemic.
“Bishop of The Church of Ingria Ivan Laptev presented a practically scholarly report on the social ministry of churches.
“Adventist presbyter Vasili Nichik prayed for the government authorities and said important words about dialog as Vasili Nichik himself was organizing dialog among churches in the 2000’s.
“No doubt, such Prayer Breakfasts make people close and show who the real heroes of our time are.
“I was greatly honored to be included on the program and given the floor. I was honored doubly because on the program I was next to Bishop Ivan Laptev.”