Read letters from Alan and Ellen Smith
June 29, 2012
Thanksgiving 2011 November 2011
August 23, 2011
November 2010 (3)
November 2010 (2) November 2010
July 21, 2010
April 12, 2010
February 8, 2010
February 4, 2010
December 4, 2009
December 2, 2009
November 18, 2009
October 30, 2009
September 21, 2009
September 3, 2009
July 1, 2009
June 8, 2009
May 25, 2009
April 16, 2009
February 17, 2009
For older letters, contact Mission Connections
Alan and Ellen Smith
As of February 1, 2013, Ellen has also taken on a new role as regional liaison for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She and Alan continue to be based in Berlin, Germany.
Alan and Ellen will next be in the USA in the Fall of 2015. Email them or the Mission Connections office (Rachel.Anderson@pcusa.org) to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Alan and Ellen Smith's ministry
Alan and Ellen Smith were appointed in 2001 to serve in Russia as coordinators of the congregational twinning project in Russia and Belarus, a program that matches interested congregations in the United States with congregations in Russia and Belarus for friendship and mission. After almost ten years in Moscow and a year in the United States on interpretation assignment, the family moved to Berlin, Germany in July 2011, but their ministry in Russia continues.
“The foundation of the twinning program,” say the Smiths, “is relationship — coming together as brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage one another, learn from one another and deepen our understanding of who we are as the Body of Christ. The program helps overcome Cold War and denominational stereotypes. Out of the relationships, projects often develop that enrich congregations on both continents.
Under the leadership of the Outreach Foundation, and in partnership with the Russian Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) initiated the Russian Twinning Program in the early 1990s to build spiritual connections between PC(USA) and Russian congregations. In the past ten years, the Smiths have worked to deepen the connection with the Baptist Union and to develop connections with the Russian Orthodox Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia and Other States.
Some of the areas in which partners connect to each other are camping ministry, orphanage ministry, prison ministry and ministry to the elderly. Partners come together where there is a sense of a common call and where each partner has strengths to share. As Ellen puts it, “This is a partnership, not a sponsorship.”
Ellen also works with the Russian Round Table and the Belarusian Round Table, church structures dedicated to diaconal ministries, with special focus on fighting drug abuse and the spread of HIV and AIDS in Russia and Belarus.
In 2006 Al began to work in Roma ministry, helping to reorganize a network of pastors who work with the Roma people. He is now working in a new assignment, coordinating evangelical outreach to minority groups, including Roma, in central and eastern Europe.
Russia, the world’s largest nation in area, extends through both Eastern Europe and northern Asia. Its long and difficult history has played a major role in its social and economic development. When Russia formally adopted communism in 1917, atheism became the official doctrine of the Communist Party, and therefore of the Soviet Union. Seventy years of communism and official atheism took a heavy toll on the religious life in Russia. Organized religion was suppressed, and priests, rabbis and other faith leaders were often imprisoned or executed. When the communist regime fell in 1991 the door was opened for an expanded Christian presence in Russia.
Outside of Moscow and other major cities, Russia is a developing nation. Social service, medical and educational infrastructures are weak and often lack needed supplies and resources. Alcoholism and drug addiction are rampant. Orphanages are overflowing. HIV and AIDS have become epidemic in Russia.
The countries of Central and Eastern Europe, where Alan is expanding his ministry with the Roma people, were once within the former Soviet Union’s realm of influence. The Roma people, often known as Gypsies, are one of Europe’s most marginalized groups.
About Al and Ellen Smith
Ellen has been active in outreach ministries of her church for many years. She was a regular participant in short-term mission trips for 13 years, traveling with groups to work in projects on the Mexican border, in rural West Virginia and on two occasions to visit the church’s “twin,” the Transfiguration Baptist Church, in Oryol, Russia. Al held the fort at home to make these trips possible.
From 1993 until 2000 Ellen taught reading, language arts and social studies in middle school in Cumberland County, North Carolina. Al was a middle school and high school math teacher in Robeson and Cumberland counties in North Carolina in 1999 and 2000. Prior to that he practiced law.
Al holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Smiths did their undergraduate work at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, from which Al holds a bachelor’s in economics and Ellen a bachelor’s degree in English and history.
Al and Ellen are both ordained to the ministries of elder and deacon and are members of MacPherson Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, North Carolina. They are the parents of three children, Allison, Margaret, and Emma. Allison graduated from Carleton College in 2006 and is now working in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Margaret is a student at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska. Emma lives with the Smiths in Berlin..
Al - December 18
Ellen - April 16
Allison - December 14
Margaret - November 8
Emma - October 9