Greetings from the President
In June President Meeli Tankler wrote wishing farewell. Meeli ran a good race for the BMTS and because of that we can proceed to the next leg of the relay race with confidence. Thank you, again, Meeli! Now, (in words of Bishop Alsted at the seminary graduation) the baton is in the hands of the new President. Pray that it will be held firmly and that she would not stumble.
My first month as a President has been everything but slow. August was a sprint. I had to learn things on the go and deal with many urgent matters. I am working on finding the right pace. It has been an exciting time. I have experienced the seminary as a student 20 years ago, then as a faculty member and now in a completely new way as the leader of the team. I am new to this, but know that I am not running alone, but I am working with a team and even the longest race is run only one step at a time.
Seminary studies began on August 29th with a communion service. Our prayer is that God who has been at work in the hearts of the students and called them to study would help each of them to follow that call. Mark 1:17-18 was the message of the day: “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
In order to follow something we must leave something behind. Fishers of Galilee left behind their nets (their main means of survival) in order to follow Jesus. Following required from them and requires from us full focus and giving our full attention to study, prayer and practicums. Students were challenged to put down their “nets” (in whatever form, including electronic) and give their attention to Jesus.
We welcome with joy our new students. We have 24 new students, 9 at English, 9 Russian speaking and 6 Estonian speaking study track. Our students are more diverse than ever coming from Estonia, Ukraine, Russia, Ghana, Nigeria, Finland, Lithuania, Belarus and USA. Remarkably many already have ministry experience, work as leaders, or have planted churches and others are new to Christian faith and wish to grow in their knowledge of faith.
We also had a challenge as two of our third course students were travelling back from Ukraine and had a bus accident as the bus rolled over. They were hurt, but are healing. Seminary family supported them to pay medical bills and they are back in our midst returning to studies.
Our main staff started the new year with a team retreat at Käsmu at the Baltic sea. We prayed together, discussed the future and learned to know each other better. We discussed how to work together efficiently as a team. Seminary has many plans to develop an grow. It was a time of work as well as refreshing. We welcome in our team new faculty Master Taavel Taimla is teaching Missions and Evangelism and Spiritual Formation, and our former District Superintendent Taavi Hollman is developing a new pastor-s education track and develops our practicums as well as assist the new President administratively. Our new District Superintendent Robert Tserenkov is also participating in seminary leadership. May God bless them all in their new roles!
Church history professor Douglas Childress lectured at Methodist Summerconference at camp Gideon. Douglas also had an opportunity to do research in England at Manchester Wesley Research Centre and at John Ryland’s library.
With Meeli Tankler I represented BMTS in London at Methodist-Related Theological Schools meeting. This trip helped to get some perspective on Methodist seminaries and schools in Europe, network and find friends. I recognized that BMTS has a strategic role to play in European Methodism.
Last but not least, Estonian ministry of education invited all leadership of Estonian universities, schools and kindergartens to a reception to celebrate 100 years of the Republic of Estonia. We are grateful that current minister of education Mailis Reps has been supportive of religious education and Christian private schools.
Estonian public media and all Christian radio stations covered BMTS news in August and the following is a link to a joint interview at Estonian public radio by both outgoing and incoming President.
Seminary has plans to develop and grow but all changes need investments. We are excited about the future. There is much life in the building and it is a good time to support us and encourage us. We are grateful to our sponsors, mission leaders, congregations everywhere in the world who remember us with prayers and support!
Külli Tõniste, BMTS president
To support BMTS student scholarship fund please go to
General Board of Global Ministries.
Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary Scholarships. Advance #15021B.
To support BMTS endowment fund managed by United Methodist Higher Education Foundation please go to www.umhef.org/giftForm.php