German Hans Guderian leads European Baptists as President
N a z a r e t h – The European Baptist Federation (EBF), umbrella association of the 800,000 Baptists in Europe, has a new president: German Hans Guderian (Berlin). During the EBF Council, September 21-25 in Nazareth, the 63-year-old former vice-president succeeded the Moldavian theologian and parliamentarian Valeriu Ghiletchi (Chisinau) in the rotating office. Guderian is the pastor of the Baptist church in Berlin-Oberschöneweide. Formerly, he served as a church pastor in Munich and Augsburg, as well as consultant for the former Home Mission of the Union of Evangelical Free Churches (Baptist and Brethren). From 1996 to 2009, he led the European Baptist Mission, now EBM International (Elstal near Berlin) as secretary general.
In a celebration worship service on the occasion of his induction, Guderian stated that the EBF is not a Europe-wide “super-church”, but also not merely an appendage of the national church unions. Rather, he sees the EBF as “the church of God, which overcomes borders, languages and cultures.” He sees the EBF, like all other churches, faced with three challenges. Secularisation affects not only the countries of Western Europe, but also Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In many churches, people have hardly any expectations of God working, lamented Guderian. In addition, in many countries, a new nationalism is spreading. Baptists must not cut themselves of f from one another in fear; rather they must guard their unity. Last but not least, Guderian observed growing injustice in many European countries. The place of Baptists is at the side of the poor and oppressed. Eight hundred fourteen churches with 83,000 members belong to the German Baptist Union.
Otniel Bunaciu (Bucharest), president of the Romanian Baptist Union, was elected as the new vice-president. With 99,000 members in over 1,700 churches, the Romanian Baptist Union is one of the largest within the EBF, which includes 55 national unions with altogether about 800,000 members.