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In Memoriam Alexander Vervay,

former president of the Union of Evangelical Christian-Baptist Churches of Tajikistan, died on November 20, from a heart attack. He was 57 years old. Vervay was pastor of the “mother” Baptist church in Dushanbe, the capital and largest city of Tajikistan. He served as president of the union for more than 15 years. The union is affiliated with the European Baptist Federation (EBF), one of six regional fellowships of the Baptist World Alliance.

Under his leadership, the Baptist union doubled the number of churches in the country and expanded children’s, prison, and other types of ministries. Vervay led the union through difficult periods as Tajikistan went through five years of civil war between 1992 and 1997 after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Tajikistan is a former republic of the Soviet Union and is 98 percent Muslim. Religious freedom in the Central Asian country has eroded in recent years. By law, religious communities must be registered by the State Committee on Religious Affairs and with local authorities. This has posed special challenges for the Baptist union and its churches. Religious groups that do not have a physical structure are not allowed to gather publicly for prayer. Failure to register can result in large fines and the closure of a place of worship. Most Tajik Baptists are German and Russian, and many fled from the country during the civil war. Vervay is of Russian and German descent and roughly half his congregation in Dushanbe are German. “He was one of those ‘left behind’ when so many Russian- German Baptists emigrated from Tajikistan in the early 1990s,” said EBF General Secretary Tony Peck. “He went on to give wise and visionary leadership to the Dushanbe church and the union.” Funeral services were on November 25. Vervay leaves wife, Lyudmila Werway; sons, Veniamin, Dmitriy, and Yuriy; and daughters, Yulya, Olga, and Anya.

BOOK NOTES Books Received by the BWA

Steven Harmon, Ecumenism Means You, Too: Ordinary Christians and the Quest for Christian Unity, Eugene,

Oregon: Cascade Books, 2010 In his usual lucid style, Harmon offers an accessible book full of informed, wise and helpful insights for anyone who cares about our Lord’s prayer for the unity of the church. This is a book every Christian ought to read.

Joshua Thompson,

a past president and general secretary of the Baptist Union of Ireland (BUI), renamed the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland in 1999, has died. He was 87 years old. Thompson was the longest serving general secretary in the history of Irish Baptists, becoming general secretary at age 28 in 1952 and serving until his retirement in 1978. He later served as president of the Baptist union from 1992-1993. Under his leadership, the Irish Baptist College was transferred to the union in 1963 and was relocated from Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. Thompson was instrumental in the appointment of new leadership at the college and the increased student enrollment. He served the college as secretary and was a lecturer in Baptist Principles. In 1968, Thompson co-founded the Irish Baptist Historical Society in association with Harry Gribbon. He acted for a period as secretary of the Historical Society and was its journal editor until 2002.

Ireland: A Short History 1895-1995. The book was published to mark the 100th Thompson authored Century of Grace: The Baptist Union of anniversary of the union and has become the definitive history of Baptists in Ireland. Thompson chaired the Re-organization Committee of the union that brought to fruition major changes that led to the restructuring of the association.

The Irish Baptist leader served as Baptist chaplain at Queens University Belfast and earned a doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Oxford. After retiring as BUI general secretary, he became pastor of Windsor Baptist Church in the university area of Belfast. Due to deteriorating health, he retired from all activities in 2002. He leaves wife, Joan, and daughters, Jocelyn and Lindsey. G. K. Nair & Gabrielle Naidoo, editors, Celebrate Indian Christians in South Africa, 1860-2010, Durban: Legacy Literature Publishers, 2010

This book contains useful information on the ethno-history of the Indian Christian movement in South Africa. It provides details on the birth, growth, challenges and achievements of South African Indian Christians of Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, Adventist, Pentecostal, and other churches. Starting with the arrival of the first Indians as indentured workers in Natal, the compiler assembles data covering a period of 150 years.

Come and See: A “Golden” History of the Baptist Women’s Union of Africa (BWUA), 1956-2009, Ibadan, Nigeria: Ola Modern Press, 2010

This one-volume publication in English and French includes a preface by then BWA Women’s Department President, Dorothy Selebano, and Acknowledgments by Tunrayo Adegbilero, the president of the Baptist Women’s Union of Africa. The book is compiled by Ethel Codrington, Julie Esisi, and Adenike Olasina.


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