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Baptists Grieve for Russian School Violence Victims

Condolences and support from Baptists poured into Beslan, Russia, following last week’s school hostage crisis that took at least 340 lives.

“There are no words to express the sorrow and the pain in the hearts of the parents and all the people who lost their children and relatives in this terrorist act,” Theo Angelov, general secretary of the European Baptist Federation, said in a statement.

Angelov, who lives in Bulgaria, asked Baptists in Europe to pray for families who are grieving over dead loved ones and for the local Baptist community in Russia. He said EBF will be sending funds to help families affected by the tragedy.

Denton Lotz, general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, wrote a letter to leaders of the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists of Russia sending condolences on behalf of the world’s Baptists.

“Men and women of faith all over the world mourn the unbelievable loss of life that has come to innocent children,” Lotz said. “After the horrors of the 20th century we had hoped that men and women in the 21st century would learn to affirm the sanctity of life. But, alas, sin and evil continue to infect the hearts of humankind and the innocent continue to suffer.”

Baptist World Aid, the BWA’s relief and development arm, has been in constant contact since the tragedy with Mission Vera, one of its partners in the region. With help from a $2,500 gift from BWAid, Mission Vera is assisting with physical and psychological needs of children and their families.

“There are a lot of families in Beslan town who have many children, but they are needy ones,” said Mission Vera director Nadia Zhigulin. “During the days of deep grief our employees leave for Beslan for funerals of victims, providing material assistance where needed.”

The American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. World Relief Office said Thursday it will release $7,500 in emergency One Great Hour of Sharing funds to aid the Russian Baptist Union as it ministers to those affected by the hostage tragedy in Beslan.

“We are deeply moved by the terrible suffering and grief thrust upon the people of Beslan,” World Relief Officer Lisa Rothenberger said in a press release. “It is hard to imagine the depth of suffering that this deliberate attack on school children has brought to the families in Beslan and to all of Russia. We are releasing these funds to support our partner in Russia and encourage American Baptist churches to join us in this time of great need by sending their donations through One Great Hour of Sharing.”

The ABC/USA also said American Baptists can designate gifts for relief on the organization’s Web site.