I notice that a lot of American Protestant money is going into missionary work in Ukraine but that in the long run the missionaries make little difference.

COMMUNITIES OF THE CONVERTED: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism, by Catherine Wanner
02.04.2009, [11:49] // Digest //

Winner of the AAUS Prize for Best Book in the fields of Ukrainian history, politics, language, literature, and culture given by the American Association of Ukrainian Studies

Winner of the Heldt Prize given by the AWSS for the best book by a woman in any area of Slavic/East European/Eurasian Studies

Winner of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe Book Prize

Choice magazine Outstanding Academic Title

Honorable Mention for the Davis Center Prize given by the AAASS

After decades of official atheism, a religious renaissance swept through much of the former Soviet Union beginning in the late 1980s. The Calvinist-like austerity and fundamentalist ethos that had evolved among sequestered and frequently persecuted Soviet evangelicals gave way to a charismatic embrace of ecstatic experience, replete with a belief in faith healing. Catherine Wanner's historically informed ethnography, the first book on evangelism in the former Soviet Union, shows how once-marginal Ukrainian evangelical communities are now thriving and growing in social and political prominence. Many Soviet evangelicals relocated to the United States after the fall of the Soviet Union, expanding the spectrum of evangelicalism in the United States and altering religious life in Ukraine. Migration has created new transnational evangelical communities that are now asserting a new public role for religion in the resolution of numerous social problems.

Hundreds of American evangelical missionaries have engaged in “church planting” in Ukraine, which is today home to some of the most active and robust evangelical communities in all of Europe. Thanks to massive assistance from the West, Ukraine has become a hub for clerical and missionary training in Eurasia. Many Ukrainians travel as missionaries to Russia and throughout the former Soviet Union. In revealing the phenomenal transformation of religious life in a land once thought to be militantly godless, Wanner shows how formerly socialist countries experience evangelical revival. Communities of the Converted engages issues of migration, morality, secularization, and global evangelism, while highlighting how they have been shaped by socialism.

"Wanner provides a fascinating entrée into contemporary Ukrainian culture by exploring evangelism's surprising resurgence in the chaotic crosswinds of post-Soviet life. . . . In subtle but lucid fashion, she plumbs the complex interactions that result when Western evangelism encounters Ukrainian ways, changing both; explores the thrust and meaning of conversion for the converted; weighs the impact of global ties on Ukrainian evangelism; and explains the unique success of Pentecostal movements in the country."—Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs

"In the course of the last century and a half, Ukraine has emerged as the major center of Protestantism in Eastern Europe; the mass emigration of Ukrainian Baptists and Pentecostals to the United States following the disintegration of the USSR made Ukrainian evangelism a truly international phenomenon. Communities of the Converted makes for stimulating reading—it is a fascinating example of research that combines history, anthropology, and the sociology of religion to discuss the experience of communities extending across different political cultures and religious and national traditions. Catherine Wanner discusses not only how religious communities adapted to changes in their political, cultural, and religious environment but also how they affected and changed that environment."—Serhii Plokhy, University of Alberta

“The rising prominence of Christianity in the former Soviet Union is one of the major stories on the global religious scene. Catherine Wanner has given us a fine, historically informed ethnographic portrait of this process, and in particular the role within it of evangelical Protestantism, in the Ukraine. Her book does much to help us understand how the upsurge of Christianity in this region has come about. Beyond that, it is also one of the very finest social scientific studies we have of the centrality of evangelism to the lives of many Christians. Wanner's rich and sensitive account of the way the evangelical impulse organizes the lives of Ukrainian converts (and those of the foreigners who missionize in their country) makes this superb book necessary reading for those in any discipline concerned with the nature and fate of global Christianity.”—Joel Robbins, University of California, San Diego

About the Author
Catherine Wanner is Associate Professor of History and Anthropology at Penn State University. She is the author of Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine and coeditor of Reclaiming the Sacred: Community, Morality, and Religion after Communism.