Eugenijus Liutkevičius

Transnational Evangelical Engagement: The Case of Ukraine

liutkevicius-eugenijusSupervisors: Martin Rew and Jeremy Morris

My research aim is to learn the impetus of the fast growth of global evangelicalism through ethnographic investigation of the role of foreign missionaries and their impact on local Christian evangelical communities in Ukraine.

Fast growth and a changing nature of evangelical Christianity around the world since the 1980s coincided with growing a activity of global mission. After the end of the Soviet Union, foreign, mostly American, missionaries flooded the previously closed territories. Compared to other ex-Soviet republics Ukraine had the largest number of evangelicals and this country was therefore particularly attractive for missionaries. When arriving to Ukraine, foreign missionaries encountered a very different kind of evangelicals with a closed, inward-looking and defensive church culture. While this style had helped them survive seventy years of suppression during the Soviet regime, it was contrasted by the American style of outreaching and active church life.  Within the last 20 years the Ukrainian evangelicals have undergone many changes and become a core of evangelical church life, education, and mission in Europe, sending hundreds of missionaries abroad every year. Consequently, Ukraine may serve as an example of rapidly shifting identity (ideology, church culture) from being local evangelicals toward becoming active participators of global evangelicalism.

Although there are cultural, political, legal, and economical explanations to this rapid transformation from closed to global and active community, my argument is that the main inspiration came from American missionaries who served as active implementers of global evangelism in Ukraine. On this ground I propose to pay close attention to the processes taking place inside local evangelical communities, where foreign missionaries are imbedding the ethic of their home churches.

Accordingly, my research question is how do missionaries transmit their ethic and ideology to the locals that they start to think and act globally?

To carry out the project, I propose to conduct 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in two evangelical communities in Lviv, Ukraine. During this period I will establish close connections with evangelical communities and missionaries and carry out in-depth research. Participant observation will be the main method used.

Profile

I studied Sociology at degree level at Vytauto Didžiojo Universitetas (VDU) in Kaunas, Lithuania with a particular interest in Sociology of Religion. In my BA thesis I analyzed the multiplicity of expressions of faith and opposition between religiosity and spirituality in my home country.

I undertook a Master in Social Anthropology at the same university. This time I shifted my focus on the development of evangelicalism after the end of the Soviet regime in Lithuania. In my MA thesis I examined the building and maintaining of the Baptist identity in one of four Baptists’ community existing in Kaunas at the time of my research.

Qualifications

  • BA in Sociology at Vytauto Didžiojo Universitetas (VDU), Kaunas, Lithuania
  • MA in Social Anthropology at Vytauto Didžiojo Universitetas (VDU), Kaunas, Lithuania

Research interests

  • Anthropology of Religion
  • Anthropology of Christianity

Contact details:

Email: exl352@student.bham.ac.uk