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Malkhaz Songulashvili

Baptist worship

Malkhaz Songulashvili
A Baptist Minister

The photo on the left is that of a Baptist minister.

I’m sorry, I’ll read that again: The photo on the left is that of a Baptist minister.

This is Malkhaz Songulashvili, the leader of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia (EBCG).

Here’s how Alexander Cuttino, an American pastor, recently described worship in a EBCG service: “There is a solemn procession to the altar. The choir is chanting. A bishop in a long, black robe and a full, gray beard swings an incense burner back and forth. We bow. We cross ourselves. It’s a typical Sunday service at the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia.”

Malkhaz Songulashvili is the Archbishop of EBCG. He said he could have created “a Baptist church for Baptists, or a Baptist church for Georgians.” It is clear which approach he chose.

This is a church that accepts women’s ordination (one of the bishops is a woman), marriage of bishops (the marriage of Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili in 2008 “included 60 foreign guests from 14 countries. More than 600 Eastern Orthodox, Catholics, Anglicans, Armenian Apostolic, Jews, Muslims, atheists, and Baptists—including the general-secretary of the Baptist World Alliance”), and liturgical dance. Here we have a community that is Baptist in theology and both Georgian and Orthodox in culture.

There is much to reflect on: how we inculturate Christianity into our local context; the value of the five-senses approach in worship epitomised in good Orthodox/Catholic liturgy; ways of creating bridges between theology and cultural expression;…

Thanks to a friend who let me know about this article which started my interest in this community.

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16 thoughts on “Baptist worship”

  1. Hugh Rangiora

    Great thoughts on contextual expressions of Christian mission- puts fresh expressions into a new context… and our own Anglican practice into question….

    What is it to be the church of the people; why do we still use the procession of monarchy in a country where mana is of the people for the people. Why would we build a cathedral that shows a journey that is from a door set long and far off from the communion rail (or even a rail…)

    Some thoughts in part from this post and on the life of Christchurch post quake especially as seen in St Faiths New Brighton

  2. I see he styles himself as an archbishop.

    Of course Georgia has been a Christian country for far longer than most nations have even existed, particularly the USA and yet American and Western arrogance believes that they need to proselytize Georgia as well as other ancient Christian lands even as the West and the USA abandon the Faith and descend into a debased and degraded state where abominations that would make the residents Sodom blush are the order of the day

      1. Bosco, Issue is that the English are broad people in terms of culture but the Anglican tradition is quit strong. I know some Baptists in England who have experimented with some Anglican practices. Not sure its so much about evangelism as spirituality and the experience it offers.

          1. What I was trying to say is that English culture is now very broad and broader than the CofE although with Fresh Expressions we are seeing some really creative moves. http://www.freshexpressions.org.uk/ I don’t though see that being strongly CofE may appeal as tool for evangelism but elements of CoE tradition may have something to offer other traditions such as Baptist have a look at http://www.freshstreams.net/about-us/our-leadership-team/ for instance with its reference to apostolic ministry which isn’t very Baptist.

  3. This is fascinating to me, and I am reminded of how evolution works in nature. Inculturation is not so different than nature, is it? And wasn’t it the great Aquinas who said that “grace builds on nature?”

  4. Says an awful lot about what I’m used to “Evangelical” meaning. If that’s tailoring to local community, then most of the UK is dumbed-down.

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