10th March, 2016

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will host a summit on the persecuted church in cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow later this year, the organisation has announced.

Franklin Graham, the son of world renowned evangelist Billy Graham, announced that the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians would be held on 28th to 30th October.

In comments made on his Facebook page this week, Mr Graham, referring to a Fox News story on the release of Open Doors' World Watch List, said the data showed 2015 was the worst year for Christian persecution with more than twice as many Christians were killed for their faith in 2015 than the previous year - making 2015 the worst year in history for the persecution of Christians since data has been collected.

He said Moscow would be a "fitting and meaningful" location for the summit, saying that no church in modern histort has ever suffered more than the church in Russia. "In the years under communist rule, virtually all of the priests, pastors, and church leaders in Russia were imprisoned or executed by the communists, and their graves are on the outskirts of Moscow and throughout the country serving as a reminder."

Rev Graham said he had discussed the issue of persecution at a meeting with Patriarch Kirill, of the Russian Orthodox Church, and evangelical leaders when in Russia last October.

He said the aim of the summit was to "shed a global spotlight on this crisis". "We will bring delegates from around the world and will be able to join hands with people of other churches and denominations of the Christian faith to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and to hear firsthand reports of the suffering that is taking place."

~ www.bgea.org

- DAVID ADAMS