RIGA, LATVIA [ANR] — On 20 August 2005, a second group of 10 students, some of whom have been studying for more than 10 years, reached their goal of graduating with a BA degree in Religion from Griggs University, USA. The graduation ceremony was held in the Seventh-day Adventist Church at the church’s headquarters in Riga, Latvia.
Addressing graduates and attendees, Bertold Hibner, president of the Adventist Church in Lithuania said, “It is really exciting to celebrate with these students who have finished their academic training.” He explained, “Ministry in Lithuanian society today demands from Adventist pastors not only the ability to help people find Biblical answers, but also to guide in areas of church history; relationships between different denominations and provide pastoral counselling in personal life and family issues. This programme has provided the necessary training in all of these areas.”
In his opening speech at the ceremony Viesturs Reķis, president of the Adventist Church in Latvia said, “We are very glad that Latvia has five graduates; not all of them are or will be pastors, but they are all involved in Church work in different capacities.”
Valdis Zilgalvis, president of the Adventist Church in the Baltic region commented, “I think this was a very good programme. It put considerable emphasis on Church History and Bible Theology. I think that was extremely useful. Most of our students are already ministers of local churches and they study to receive the necessary knowledge for their work. This is a different and crucial attitude to the learning process. Their ministry is a very good catalyst for their lessons.”
Dr. Gudmundur Olafsson, director of the Pastoral Education Program (PEP) in Riga observed that “Their achievement was made possible through the assistance of several institutions and individuals”. Thanks were duly expressed to: Newbold College, England, for teachers; the Adventist Church in Trans-Europe, for monetary support; the Adventist Church in the Baltic region, for caring for the physical needs of the students; Griggs University, USA, for recognizing the achievement of the students.
Several individuals were thanked personally for their various contributions to the success of this study programme, namely: Dr. Bertil Wiklander, president, Dr. Orville Woolford, Education Director, Pastor Peter Roennfeldt, Ministerial Department Secretary, respectively, for the Adventist Church in the Trans-Europe region; Dr G. Olafsson, director of PEP; Carsten Waeren (Denmark) who has sponsored students for the whole course; Valdis Zilgalvis, president of the Baltic Union, and other sponsors.
But special thanks went to Dr. Jan Paulsen, president of the world-wide Adventist Church, for his vision in organizing the Riga training programme and its funding whilst he was president of the Trans-European region.
At the conclusion of his speech Dr. Olafsson said, “Above all we thank God, who provided the power and energy for the accomplishment of this programme.”
Baltic Union Conference Communication Director