Philip Walters covered a week of the Helsinki review conference in Madrid and filed this report for CHRISTIANITY TODAY. He is on the staff of Keston (England) College.
A neatly bound typewritten volume of 863 pages reached Madrid from the Soviet Union in time for the November opening of the Helsinki review conference in Madrid. Addressed to participants, it dealt with “willful aggression by state atheism in the USSR against the All-Union Church of the True and Free Seventh-day Adventists.” It had been published by the secret publishing house, Verny Svitetel True Witness.”
The group known as “True and Free” Adventists—harshly persecuted since the 1920s—has consistently refused to compromise with what it regards as the unacceptable demands of an atheist state: to register its congregations, to bear arms, to work on Saturday (the Adventist sabbath). Its leader, V. A. Shelkov, died in a Soviet labor camp earlier this year at age 84.
The True and Free Seventh-day Adventists have offered determined resistance in the form of a flood of documents detailing their sufferings and outlining their beliefs. This latest document opens with a message from its church council. Then follows an appeal by its late leader Shelkov, a 140-page account of Shelkov’s trial last March, 400 pages of testimony in Shelkov’s defense, a list of 257 searches of homes of True and Free Adventists between March 1978 and July 1980 with names and addresses of believers involved, and a list of 55 True and Free Adventist prisoners, nearly all with photographs attached.
Thoroughly prepared especially for the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the volume indicates both the degree of persecution suffered by these believers and the importance they place ...1
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