"I think the fact that we Baptists are not the state church actually helps us in this situation," said Anthony Peck, referring to the unfolding situation in Ukraine.
Peck, general secretary of the European Baptist Federation (EBF), spoke Monday with EthicsDaily.com via Skype regarding news of Russian operations in the Crimean Peninsula – and what the ongoing situation between Ukraine and Russia means for Baptists in the region.
The EBF covers Baptists stretching from Portugal to Russia – including member bodies in both Russia and Ukraine.
Skype Interview: Anthony Peck on Ukraine from EthicsDaily on Vimeo.
Peck said the Baptist Union of Ukraine has nearly 130,000 members and a high profile in the country.
"In recent years, some of its members have deliberately seen their calling as being part of politics," said Peck.
In fact, Oleksandr Turchynov is Ukraine's acting president, having been voted in by the country's parliament after President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted.
Turchynov is a Baptist elder at the Word of Life Centre in Kiev, which is a member of the Baptist Union of Ukraine.
Peck has met Turchynov on three different occasions.
"I think he needs all our prayers," said Peck, who also cited other Baptist leaders in the country working in public service.
"There's a sense in which Baptists and other Christians as well, I think, are standing in the gap between the groups at this time," Peck said.
He also said the EBF can and does bolster support for Baptist and other Christian communities on the ground in situations like what is unfolding in Ukraine.
For example, a team from Hungarian Baptist Aid went in to Ukraine and helped with practical medical needs during the recent demonstrations. Their arrival, said Peck, was also a sign of encouragement to the communities there.
EBF also distributes information and, thanks to social media, serves as an information hub for interested parties wanting to know more.
"Our Facebook group has grown hugely in the last week," said Peck, "people wanting to know what's happening, wanting to take concerns back for prayers, etc."
Watch the rest of the interview to see what Peck thinks Baptists can uniquely do in the unfolding crisis.
Watch the interview with Peck at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily/skype-tonypeck2
Learn more about the European Baptist Federation at EBF.org
Watch other EthicsDaily.com Skype interviews at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily