June 2019, Külli Tõniste
At my son’s elementary school graduation, I listened carefully to the principal’s speech to fourth graders knowing that this will be my first time as a rector sending away a graduating class of theology students.
The principle’s 3-minute speech had in everything | needed. Here are his points:
- You have sat long enough indoors doing assignments. It is time to go out!
- While you are outside and especially when you are steering something (a scooter was meant, but “steering” in Estonian also means “leading”) follow the rules that we have taught you.
- Use sober judgment in every situation, especially when you go swimming.
All I had to add to this fine speech were these passages to enforce each point:
- He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15)
- “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:7-8)
- The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:7, 10)
My speech was a bit longer than the principal’s but not because I had deep things to say, rather, because the uniqueness of the moment really struck me. These seven students are standing at the brink of something new in their lives. They are all children of God, but each of them has their unique call, talents and hopes. It was a sacred moment to cherish.
We, teachers, give words of advice reinforcing the basics not because we think that the students do not already know these things, but because we want them to know that we truly consider them each very special and from the bottom of our hearts wish them well.
This year’s graduating class was historic. Riho Kurg and Allan Lepik were the first deaf students in the history of Estonia who completed 3-year theology program. A great number of deaf church members and family came to celebrate their graduation.
We learned so much from our deaf Christian brothers during their studies and we were as much served by them as they were by us. In a school taught in three different languages, we regularly have to cross over cultural and language barriers. Now we had to do it using sign language. We were all enriched in this process. Thank you, sign language interpreters: Liivi Hollman, Maria Lindaru, Piret Neimann, Ulvi Saks and Marite Taks.
Riho and Allan’s accomplishment was covered in paper “Estonian Church” as well as on Estonian public broadcast news.
In addition, Maria Ossipova graduated cum laude and she received Wes Griffin’s award for high academic achievement. Riho Kurg received Olav Pärnamets’ leadership award.
We are also very proud our graduate Ardi Leerimaa who was ordained clergy at Estonia UMC Annual Conference. Ardi serves at Pärnu UMC. May God bless him as he is living out the highest call of Christian service and leadership.
Faculty and Staff
BMTS faculty Anne Saluraid, Mark Nelson and Taavi Hollman were honored with the seminary medal for their long term faithful service on behalf of the BMTS. We recognize the grace and love of God in the faithful service of these individuals.
A special thanks to Alla Osokina who served as an interpreter as well as an administrative assistant during the busy spring semester. We will miss her greatly as she is taking on other challenges this fall. BMTS is searching for a new registrar-assistant. Please pray for the search to go well.
Happy birthday to our faculty Üllas Tankler who celebrated his birthay in June!
Our hard working faculty. Thanks to you we have completed a successful year.
On May 24, 2019, BMTS alumni formed BMTS alumni organization and elected a leadership committee. At graduation, their representative Veikko Võsu welcomed the new alumni with some words of wisdom and a handshake. Alumni leadership team have their first formal meeting on July 27.
Glad to report that 19 people have made a commitment to support the seminary regularly! Thanks be to God! We are praying that during the birthday year we find 50 supporters who donate monthly. We will continue to keep you posted. Please consider supporting us regularly.
The Development Fund created in January raised 4,000 euros. With some additional funds from Bishop’s office, we are placing the first order for new translation equipment. There is still more equipment needed and I hear there are fundraising efforts happening. Thank you for your prayers, efforts and contributions! We are moving in the right direction.
In August, before the students return is the best time to make some improvements in the library. However, our entire fund is going to be spent. Let us pray earnestly for the Elijah miracle with widow’s oil that kept replenishing! Our library is an important priority next year.
Our goal is 50 regular supporters this year!
In partnership with Methodist-related Theological Schools of Europe and Asbury Theological Seminary, we are holding a special Student Conference for Growth and Development of Churches with Church Planting Institute March 5-8, 2020.
The keynote speaker is Dr. Phil Meadows from Asbury. The event is in English with translation to Estonianan and Russian. All theology students are welcome! MTSE member schools are invited to send representatives.
Special thanks to KUSK National Foundation of Civil Society and Republic of Estonia Ministry of the Interior for supporting this event, which honors Estonia’s 100th anniversary. We give thanks to God for the freedom to serve.
Please Support Us!
Donations to BMTS can be made through the Advance using advance.umcmission.org website. To find us search for Europe, Education, Estonia, Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary Scholarships, Advance # 15021B