Monday, September 01, 2008

Russian Orthodox Officials Visit Union Center

Six citizens of the Soviet Union, all officials of the Russian Orthodox Church, worshiped with the Union Center Church of the Brethren on Sunday, September 1, 1963. The six were on an exchange tour as guests of the Church of the Brethren with an objective to bring understanding between the Brethren and the Russian Orthodox Church. The group had earlier toured some area farms and churches and spent the evening at Camp Mack.

The delegation had specifically asked to visit a country church and Union Center was selected. In addition to attending services on Sunday morning, they stayed and enjoyed a harvest dinner. Members of the congregation presented the delegation with photo albums filled with pictures of various activities of the church.

In answer to questions about any changes in the Russian Orthodox Church since the revolution and during the Stalin period, the Russians indicated that there had been little change and that laws affecting the church had remained the same.

Ross Noffsinger, father of current General Secretary Stan Noffsinger, was pastor of the Union Center congregation at the time of the visit. Stan, who was a young boy at the time of the visit, would later remark how influential that visit was on his life.

And that's the way it was in rural Northern Indiana forty-five years ago today.

Sources: Nappanee Advance News and The Elkhart Truth