Tartu, ESTONIA. A ministerial training programme attended by some thirty-five Seventh-day Adventist pastors from the three Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, is currently taking place at the church’s headquarters in Tartu, Estonia. The programme is designed for the pastors who are already involved in ministry, but who do not have a theological education, according to Pastor Lauri Beekmann, communication director for the Adventist Church in Estonia
Organised jointly by the education department of the Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division (or region) with its headquarters in St Albans, England, and Newbold College, Binfield, England, the programme which commenced on 17 June and due to end on 12 July, will continue during the summers of 2003 and 2004. It covers the Newbold College BA ministerial training programme in a shortened version. “Basically the pastors receive an in-house Newbold diploma,” explains Pastor Gifford Rhamie, teaching the Life and the Teachings of Christ and Homiletics, and one of the two lecturers from the college. “It doesn’t have accreditation outside of the Newbold system; nevertheless it will give each individual a sense of the achievement and a sense of belonging.”
Rhamie states that one of the goals of the college is to provide formal ministerial training to all the pastors in Trans-European Division. “We feel a responsibility towards all our pastors “ not just for their formal education, but for their life learning education. It is not always possible for students to come to us for an education, and so we go where they are,” says Rhamie. “By teaching we also learn ourselves. We understand where these pastors are coming from. We understand their context and so we can be more relevant to their situation.”
During the Soviet period when it was impossible to receive a theological education, most of the pastors are working without formal education. Some of the pastors attending the lectures have 30 years” ministerial experience. “I’m very impressed with the knowledge these pastors have,” adds Rhamie. “Good Adventists everywhere have vast Bible knowledge, so this is no surprise.”
The second lecturer from Newbold College is Dr Daniel Duda who lectured on Pastoral Psychology and Family Counselling. “Dr Duda’s lectures were very useful because they taught us how to counsel our families and church members,” says Viktors Geide, a pastor from Latvia. “I’m from an older generation,” Geide continues, “and people and times are changing, and the church should also change.
Most of the Lithuanian pastors are just starting out in their ministerial work. “During the first part of the session I have been getting to know myself,” says young pastor Rimantas Marushauskas from Lithuania. “It helped me identify my weaknesses and temptations, and now I can help others.”
Pastor Ylo Pärna, president of the Estonian Conference, says that continuing education is absolutely normal and necessary in today’s world. “We are in a unique situation here in the Baltics,” he explains, “because our workers did not got the chance to get their education at the appropriate time. So this programme is trying to fix that problem. Following this every worker should receive 20 hours of continuing education every two years.” [Lauri Beekmann/ANR Staff/ANR 088]
Estonian Conference Communication Director