Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Theologians Without Borders is Transformed into LeaDev-Langham

This letter that was written and sent to many explains the transformation of Theologians Without Borders and provides the links and contact addresses for LeaDev Langham.

Warmest greetings to you!


Changes Afoot

I write to inform you of the exciting change—that Theologians Without Borders (TWB) is becoming one of the ministry initiatives of LeaDev-Langham, which is a vibrant organization that supports Christian Leadership Development in the Majority World.

In good Biblical fashion, the new name ‘Teachers Without Borders’ will signify this transformation and new ownership.

Catalyst

Since 2006 TWB has been assisting through the provision of short term volunteer theological teachers. In recent days I have become increasingly aware that many of the seminaries and colleges that have requested help through TWB have also put out requests to LeaDev-Langham.

Having known Tony Plews, the Executive Director of LeaDev-Langham, for more than 30 years, I thought it would be good for us to compare notes, talk about what we were each doing and see if we could discover some useful synergies. These conversations with Tony and later with his chairman Denis Browne were thrilling and I quickly saw that the vision of TWB could be achieved so much better if it became part of LeaDev-Langham.

I initiated a formal request for this to happen and I am very glad to report that recently the LeaDev-Langham Board enthusiastically agreed to take responsibility for the work of TWB.

Growth

Since 2006, TWB has grown beyond what can realistically be achieved by a one person band.

LeaDev-Langham is a bigger organization with a team of people responsible for such things as vision, administration, communications, finance and coordination of volunteers with accountability to its board.

Strategy

TWB has provided volunteer theological teachers but often as coordinator I have been asked whether I also had openings for an IT volunteer, a librarian, a counselor or an English language teacher.

As I have become more acquainted with LeaDev-Langham I have been impressed with its strategic approach. It comes alongside at the invitation of a local seminary and it gets involved in a range of complementary ministries—faculty training, library and IT resources, campus development, preacher training, humanitarian aid and development, student scholarships and short term adventures.

Volunteers participate in a wide range of short term adventure projects as Academic Administrators and Advisers, Computer Trainers, Educators, ESOL Teachers, Finance and Administration Specialists, Mentoring and Pastoral Specialists, Health Practitioners, IT Specialists, Librarians, Property Development and Maintenance Workers, TESOL Trainers as well as Visiting Faculty.

Ethos

The LeaDev-Langham team works with volunteers and seminaries across the spectrum of the Christian church.

While it is based in Auckland, New Zealand its vision and mission encompass the Majority World (MW). It has appointed people to help in the coordination of work in several global hubs. It is working on ways that people can donate - including in the USA where Americans can easily invest in its work.

Do browse the LeaDev-Langham website (www.leadev-langham.org) and look at either the short or longer version of the introductory DVD.

Transition

1. From now (if you have been on the TWB mailing list) you will receive the newsletters sent out by LeaDev-Langham indicating the range of opportunities for service throughout the world. Ask to be put on LDL's mailing list if you are not.

2. When you want to indicate your interest in serving or request volunteers to help in your training institution please email Tony Plews - email_tony@ldl.org.nz.

3. In passing on the resources of TWB to LeaDev-Langham I plan to include the confidential Expressions of Interest that so many of you have submitted over the years and the letters of commendation by your referees.

Alternatively, should you desire that I delete those files and leave it to you to furnish new and updated information to LeaDev-Langham, please indicate this to me by 31 July 2011.

4. Your questions to me (geoffpound@gmail.com) or to Tony Plews (tony@ ldl.org.nz) about this transition and the transformation of TWB would be welcomed at any time.

5. Initially I will be assisting LeaDev-Langham in an advisory way to ensure that in this transition no requests or teachers fall through the cracks!

After this transition period I will be stepping back because the greatest gift I can give is the freedom and permission for LeaDev-Langham to transform what was TWB into what it needs to become and allow the new coordinators to effectively nest this ministry alongside the wide range of their volunteer projects.

Thanks

I have appreciated greatly and have been inspired by the people who have sacrificed time and funds to undertake short term teaching ministries in many parts of the world. Thank you so much for your letters and notes of encouragement and the assurance of your prayers.

I commend to you wholeheartedly the work of LeaDev-Langham and hope you might continue to be involved in the vital work of Christian partnership throughout the world.

Every blessing

Dr Geoff Pound

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

TWB News by Email

Change of Method
I am no longer announcing requests for teachers or mentioning ‘Expressions of Interest’ by public blog posts.

Instead I am sending regular newsletters by email including ‘Macedonian Calls’ and teaching opportunities.

While this may look like a reversion from the newer (circa 1997) web log technology to the ancient (circa 1969) practice of electronic mail, the change is made to better target the information and to safeguard privacy.

Ramping Up
This change in no way represents a scaling down of operations as the more direct approach to your Inbox will hopefully ramp up activities and lead to more personal one-to-one conversations.

Broader Base—Greater Reach
While Theologians Without Borders was born (2006) and grew under the auspices of the Baptist World Alliance, it is well and truly interdenominational in character and ecumenical in spirit.

TWB serves seminaries and challenges teachers to volunteer from many different branches of the Christian church.

Staying Alive
This Theologians Without Borders blog will remain alive to serve as an archive of information, opportunities and ideas about theological education.

Action
* To become acquainted with Theologians Without Borders follow these links to read some basic information in English, Spanish, French, German, Bahasa, Tagalog, Portuguese and Italian. For other languages try Google Translate.

* Let me know if your seminary, school or Convention has a need for a teacher or trainer and I will get the word out.

* Register your interest (without commitment) in serving as a theological teacher or trainer in a short term international assignment by sending to me your CV, a digital photo, a completed Expression of Interest form and the email addresses of two referees.

* Write to me if you would like to be added to the Theologians Without Borders mailing list. My address is geoffpound(at)gmail.com

Dr Geoff Pound
Coordinator of Theologians Without Borders.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Teacher Requested for Sri Lanka

A seminary in SL is requesting a person to visit them in the week, 15-19 February 2009.

The one week intensive course is at the Bachelors level and the subject can be arranged in accordance with the teacher’s areas of expertise.

Do let me know if you are interested in exploring this opportunity of service.

For First Time Readers of TWB or a Refresher
A general introduction to Theologians Without Borders is offered in several languages at these links:
Theologians Without Borders
Teólogos Sin Fronteras
Théologiens Sans Frontières
Theologen Ohne Grenzen
Ahli Teologi Tanpa Sempadan
Ang mga Dalubhasa sa Salita ng Diyos na Walang Hangganan
Teólogos Sem Fronteiras
Teologi Senza Frontiere

Interested in Serving With TWB?
A good place to start (without making a commitment) is to adapt this Expression of Interest and send your information with a digital photo to me.

Dr Geoff Pound

Coordinator, Theologians Without Borders

Contact me on email at geoffpound[@]gmail.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Diary of a Theologian Without Borders

Dr T is from the south Pacific and is spending his sabbatical in different parts of India.

I thought it would be enrich to post excerpts of his travel diary as a way of broadcasting some of his thoughts about doing theological education in another culture and to illustrate the enrichment it is for people who undertake this service.

Daily food is an interesting part of my visit to India. Sometimes it is a case of buy it if it is available. Otherwise make do. I am enjoying rice and noodles but also have potatoes. Dahl is a tasty sauce on fish cakes or fried chicken that A prepares for me. Today she made a custard with nuts, apple and sultanas in it – my first dessert in India. I will make one bowl last a few days.

I rise with the sun at 5 am breakfast after 6, when I have cornflakes with banana or delicious mango, and milk from powder. I get the best toast using the Teflon frypan, especially as the electric toaster suffers from the frequent low voltage power. I can spread vegemite that G gave me, or cheese from a tin, or honey or jam.

My colleague Y (31) takes me shopping via rickshaw, about ten minutes. The store is like a Dimmys with a small food section. The building is still under construction. You can see how bamboo is used for scaffolding even to support newly poured concrete floors. Near the school gate, a man spreads his plastic and various vegetables we buy fruit weighed on traditional scales, beans, cabbage, squash, pumpkin.

In the early evening I make a light meal, perhaps with egg, or some left overs. In between I have snax and even chocolate. I have enjoyed meals in some faculty homes. But last week I inadvertently loaded a sauce which they soon told me had lots of chili in it. I have learnt the hot way that I can manage curry OK. But chili wipes me out!

So Indian food is rich and enjoyable, as also the food for thought that nourishes us. Yesterday we farewelled the very delightful Dr K, a retired international professor of Old Testament, which is also my area). It has been amazing to me how in special campus lectures we each gave we put a common viewpoint, namely that Law and Gospel go hand in hand throughout the Bible.

My students are first year with BA or B.Theol. Some have (if you will pardon me) a good Baptist Bible knowledge. But there is little depth or understanding of scholarly method. Even some third year students are poor preachers: they fall back on exhortation and fail to educate.

I have begun to see that exhortation about our own faithfulness can be helpful only if the preacher also speaks of the grace of God. So I am telling them that the main character in every chapter of Genesis is God, and that they should talk about God’s grace and will in a way that inspires us all to grow. That is the meaty food we have to offer.

There are about 12 teaching faculty here, most with doctoral degrees…. The IT phenomenon is just beginning to revolutionise their education. Each year a few more students come with laptops. But so far the library has not matched their commitment. It is very clear to me that a few computers in the library linked to the web will increase their resource access immeasurably.

I am sure I am the learner. The faith of others is one of the great foods that can nourish our lives.

Got a Sabbatical?
Got a sabbatical or study leave coming up? It could be enriching to spend part of it teaching in another culture.

To Get You Going
A general introduction to Theologians Without Borders is offered in several languages at these links:
Theologians Without Borders
Teólogos Sin Fronteras
Théologiens Sans Frontières
Theologen Ohne Grenzen
Ahli Teologi Tanpa Sempadan
Ang mga Dalubhasa sa Salita ng Diyos na Walang Hangganan
Teólogos Sem Fronteiras
Teologi Senza Frontiere

Interested in Serving With TWB?
A good place to start (without making a commitment) is to adapt this Expression of Interest and send your information with a digital photo to me.

Dr Geoff Pound

Coordinator, Theologians Without Borders

Contact me on email at geoffpound[@]gmail.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

Image: “Dahl is a tasty sauce on fish cakes or fried chicken that A prepares for me.”

Monday, September 28, 2009

Imagine Yourself Making a Difference in a Needy Part of the World



This video is about making our lives count, improving the lot of others and shaping our world for good.

If you are a theological teacher, imagine how your ministry might be multiplied by giving a week or two teaching in a needy country of the world.

For First Time Readers of TWB or a Refresher
A general introduction to Theologians Without Borders is offered in several languages at these links:
Theologians Without Borders
Teólogos Sin Fronteras
Théologiens Sans Frontières
Theologen Ohne Grenzen
Ahli Teologi Tanpa Sempadan
Ang mga Dalubhasa sa Salita ng Diyos na Walang Hangganan
Teólogos Sem Fronteiras
Teologi Senza Frontiere

Interested in Serving With TWB?
A good place to start (without making a commitment) is to adapt this Expression of Interest and send your information with a digital photo to me.

Dr Geoff Pound
Coordinator, Theologians Without Borders
Contact me on email at geoffpound[@]gmail.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

Link
Nitin Nohria & Amanda Pepper, Harvard Business School’s Leadership Initiative and XPLANE, YouTube, 24 June 2009.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Variety of Opportunities

Do continue to peruse the recent postings for the many and varied opportunities for service.

Two new requests have arrived:

South India
A request has come in with quite some detail but is best described as a visit of encouragement with many opportunities for church leadership (including pastors) training seminars.

Uganda
Again, another visit of encouragement with a specific emphasis of ministry among children, young people and widows.

I would love to hear of people who are facing an upcoming window of opportunity and are considering some voluntary service in another country for a week or the best part of a semester.

Where to Start?
A general introduction to Theologians Without Borders is offered in several languages at these links:
Theologians Without Borders
Teólogos Sin Fronteras
Théologiens Sans Frontières
Theologen Ohne Grenzen
Ahli Teologi Tanpa Sempadan
Ang mga Dalubhasa sa Salita ng Diyos na Walang Hangganan
Teólogos Sem Fronteiras
Teologi Senza Frontiere

Interested in Serving With TWB?
A good place to start (without making a commitment) is to adapt this Expression of Interest and send your information with a digital photo to me.

Dr Geoff Pound

Coordinator, Theologians Without Borders

Contact me on email at geoffpound[at]gmail.com or on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to establish email contact with you in discerning areas of service.

Image: Your unique gift could be just the contribution to fit the need in another part of the world.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bubbling Along

Wow, things are bubbling along with Theologians Without Borders:

* One Aussie guy has just finished a two month assignment teaching an OT course in N E India (he is a pastor—what a great way to use part of your sabbatical).

* An American seminary student is currently engaged in a two week visit of encouragement to church leaders and members in South India.

* A seminary teacher has offered to teach a course in Christian Education and we are looking on the African continent for an appropriate opportunity.

* A seminary in Sri Lanka is still needing a teacher or two for a 10 day intensive in November—Hermeneutics or the Synoptic Gospels.

* I am looking for a trainer in some basic areas of Christian leadership for a one week course in Orissa (preferably between November and December but times are flexible).

* There are several pastors and teachers who have submitted their completed ‘Expression of Interest’ (see below) and we are awaiting the right opportunity.

* Many teachers are requested for one week assignments in China.

* Would you be able to spare one or two weeks next year to teach in West Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone) with some leaders in a mobile theological school? I have several dates and subjects.

These are a sample of the requests and offers. Do get in touch with me about more details.

For First Time Readers of TWB or a Refresher
A general introduction to Theologians Without Borders is offered in several languages at these links:
Theologians Without Borders
Teólogos Sin Fronteras
Théologiens Sans Frontières
Theologen Ohne Grenzen
Ahli Teologi Tanpa Sempadan
Ang mga Dalubhasa sa Salita ng Diyos na Walang Hangganan
Teólogos Sem Fronteiras
Teologi Senza Frontiere

If you can translate this statement into your language I would be keen to add it to this list.

Interested in Serving With TWB?
A good place to start (without making a commitment) is to adapt this Expression of Interest and send your information with a digital photo to me.

Dr Geoff Pound

Coordinator, Theologians Without Borders

Contact me on email at geoffpound[at]gmail.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

Image: “Wow, things are bubbling along with Theologians Without Borders.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seth Godin and Theological Education at the Crossroads

When author and marketing expert Seth Godin speaks at conferences there’s always a packed house.

When he posts articles to his blog every day, 44,000 people around the world stop what they are doing to read Seth’s Blog. It’s ranked in the top 150 blogs and the #1 marketing blog in the world. Seth also started last year a new 6 month MBA program.

Earlier this month (August 2009) he wrote the following article entitled ‘Education at the Crossroads’. The prophetic nature of it got me thinking about ‘Theological Education at the Crossroads.

Actually, there isn't one, there are three choices that anyone offering higher education is going to have to make.

Should this be scarce or abundant?
MIT and Stanford are starting to make classes available for free online. The marginal cost of this is pretty close to zero, so it's easy for them to share. Abundant education is easy to access and offers motivated individuals a chance to learn.

Scarcity comes from things like accreditation, admissions policies or small classrooms.

Should this be free or expensive?
Wikipedia offers the world's fact base to everyone, for free. So it spreads.

On the other hand, some bar review courses are so expensive the websites don't even have the guts to list the price.

The newly easy access to the education marketplace (you used to need a big campus and a spot in the guidance office) means that both the free and expensive options are going to be experimented with, because the number of people in the education business is going to explode (then implode).

If you think the fallout in the newspaper business was dramatic, wait until you see what happens to education.

Should this be about school or about learning?
School was the big thing for a long time. School is tests and credits and notetaking and meeting standards. Learning, on the other hand, is 'getting it'. It's the conceptual breakthrough that permits the student to understand it then move on to something else. Learning doesn't care about workbooks or long checklists.

For a while, smart people thought that school was organized to encourage learning. For a long time, though, people in the know have realized that they are fundamentally different activities.

The combinations...
Imagine a school that's built around free, abundant learning. And compare it to one that's focused on scarce, expensive schooling. Or dream up your own combination. My recent MBA program, for example, was scarce (only 9 people got to do it) and it was free and focused on learning.

Just because something is free doesn't meant there isn't money to be made. Someone could charge, for example, for custom curricula, or focused tutoring, or for a certified (scarce) degree. When a million people are taking your course, you only need 1% to pay you to be happy indeed.

Eight combinations of the three choices are available and my guess is that all eight will be tried. If I were going to wager, I'd say that the free, abundant learning combination is the one that's going to change the world.

Link
Seth Godin, Education at the Crossroads, Seth Godin’s Blog, August 2009.

Subscribe! It’s free!

Related
Seth Godin Tells Teachers: Quit Textbooks and Publish Free Online, Seth’s Blog, 14 June 2009.

For First Time Readers of TWB or a Refresher
A general introduction to Theologians Without Borders is offered in several languages at these links:
Theologians Without Borders
Teólogos Sin Fronteras
Théologiens Sans Frontières
Theologen Ohne Grenzen
Ahli Teologi Tanpa Sempadan
Ang mga Dalubhasa sa Salita ng Diyos na Walang Hangganan
Teólogos Sem Fronteiras
Teologi Senza Frontiere

If you can translate this statement into your language I would be keen to add it to this list.

Interested in Serving With TWB?
A good place to start (without making a commitment) is to adapt this Expression of Interest and send your information with a digital photo to me.

Dr Geoff Pound
Coordinator, Theologians Without Borders

Contact me on email at geoffpound[at]gmail.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

Image: Seth Godin.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Will Theological Texts Soon Be a Thing of the Past?

This recent article by Carmel Egan contains predictions that school text books will soon be a thing of the past and it raises questions about theological texts and seminary libraries.

There are copyrighting challenges, technology obstacles and traditional preferences for hard copies but in countries around the world where books are expensive to buy and shipping costs are over the top, will e-books win the day? What do you think?

HEAVY book-filled school bags could soon be a thing of the past, with the e-book industry claiming most of students' textbooks will be contained in light hand-held portable devices within three years.

The internet-linked reading devices will store hundreds of e-textbooks bought online or borrowed from school libraries.

''E-textbooks will be mainstream within three years,'' the executive director of DA Direct, Australia's largest distributor of portable reading devices and e-books, Richard Siegersma, predicted.

Mr Siegersma said digital technology would lead to the costs of e-textbooks falling in a year to 18 months.

''There will be just-in-time and customised delivery to flexible, full-colour screens; textbooks with audio and video components; touch screens for handwriting and margin note-taking and text highlighting,'' he said.

Speaking at a conference of school librarians in Melbourne last week, Mr Siegersma told them to prepare for the transition from print to e-readers, e-books and e-textbooks.

While book lovers in the US can already access thousands of digital titles via Amazon's Kindle e-reader, users of the new technology complain they can be slow to upload, screens are black and white, page-turning is slow and titles are limited to certain publishers.

Mr Siegersma said technological breakthroughs, such as flexible, full-colour screens along with improved digital management and delivery systems, will revolutionise the way students access information.

Pressure from educational institutions, public libraries and government will also force print book publishers to address pent-up demand for more titles to be made available online.

The acting head of cultural studies at Macquarie University and author of The Book Is Dead, Long Live the Book, Sherman Young, agrees.

''The world is at the e-book tipping point and librarians will be the vanguard of the introduction of e-textbooks,'' Dr Young told the conference, organised by Curriculum Corporation and the School Library Association of Victoria.

''Book culture is still confused with print culture and it is really only this year people have started to get e-books.''

In 2005, Macquarie University library bought 16,651 books in print form, rising to 16,764 in 2007.

By comparison, the number of e-books bought rose from 896 in 2005 to 68,719 in 2007.

However, many obstacles stand between e-textbooks and classroom domination, according to Australian Copyright Council lawyer Sneha Balakrishnan.

''Some schools are already in the process of negotiating licences tailored to their needs,'' Ms Balakrishnan said.

''But there are still lots of issues to be worked through.''

Several Melbourne secondary schools have trialled e-books with students and staff in the past year with mixed results.

At the selective boys' secondary Melbourne High School, students were not persuaded by the new technology.

While enjoying e-book mobility and easy access to multiple titles, they complained of slow data uploading, slow page-turning and too few titles available free.

Wesley College's head of library and information services, Wilma Kurvink, trialled 18 e-readers with staff and students.

''Digital rights management restrictions at the point of sale have been developed for individuals on personal computers with credit cards, but publishers have not yet envisaged libraries as part of the mode or thought of building a lending system,'' Ms Kurvink said.

''School libraries have used very traditional acquisition models but that will not work with this new technology and we need to start forming collaborative groups to work with publishers in partnership.''

Link
Carmel Egan, Students to Dump Textbooks for e-books, The Age, 16 August 2009.

For First Time Readers of TWB or a Refresher
A general introduction to Theologians Without Borders is offered in several languages at these links:
Theologians Without Borders
Teólogos Sin Fronteras
Théologiens Sans Frontières
Theologen Ohne Grenzen
Ahli Teologi Tanpa Sempadan
Ang mga Dalubhasa sa Salita ng Diyos na Walang Hangganan
Teólogos Sem Fronteiras
Teologi Senza Frontiere

If you can translate this statement into your language I would be keen to add it to this list.

Interested in Serving With TWB?
A good place to start (without making a commitment) is to adapt this Expression of Interest and send your information with a digital photo to me.

Dr Geoff Pound
Coordinator, Theologians Without Borders
Contact me on email at geoffpound[@]gmail.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

Image: “Will e-books win the day?”

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Future of Theological Education in Euro-Asia

Fascinating report just come in about the future of theological education in Russia and beyond.

Shrinkage – Necessary but Unhealthy
Moscow/Odessa -- A US-American active in Russia reports that the Southern Baptist Convention needs only five seminaries to support the ministry of its 16 million members. The countries of the former Soviet Union, which today may have as many as three million evangelical believers, host roughly 150 seminaries and Bible schools.

In an interview in Odessa this summer, Dr. Sergey Viktorovich Sannikov (Odessa), Executive Director and founding father of the “Euro-Asian Accreditating Association” (E-AAA), responded: “It’s very clear the number of theological schools will and must decrease. But it would be incorrect to label this process as one of ‘healthy shrinkage’.” Too many careers and patterns of foreign support are on the line – the process can therefore only be a painful one. “There was no strategic plan when these schools were founded – they were spontaneous creations. People were enthusiastic, Western support was available, and so they began.”

Sannikov added that the E-AAA is doing what it can to soften the blows. Extensive discussions on the Internet between leading educators are taking place. “We are encouraging schools to develop their own unique programmes or to merge with other ones. Each institute will need to have its own, distinctive face; each will need to find its own niche.” Diversification is needed – especially when a geographical advantage is not evident.

“Moscow Theological Seminary”, the flagship of the “Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists”, is one of the institutes actively involved in gathering branch institutes under its umbrella. Sannikov stated: “I think this is a very good development, especially in Russia. The government and economic conditions are putting pressure on smaller schools. Smaller institutions recognise they can work more effectively if they use the teachers and programs of a larger institution. Structural problems are being corrected: Larger institutions can much more effectively organise libraries and other resources and transfer them elsewhere.”

E-AAA’s head, a Ukrainian Baptist, also believes that, at least for the next several decades, the number of interdenominational educational institutions will not grow significantly. “Denominationalism is increasing rapidly,” he warned, “except among some of our youth. It is very difficult to somehow renounce one’s own denomination if one believes it to represent the sole truth.” Even tiny denominations such as the Wesleyans – not a part of the Methodists or Nazarenes – have their own school in Moscow. Moscow’s “Spiritual Academy of the Apostle Paul” also represents a very small constituency. A second, small “Moscow Theological Seminary” headed by Gennady Sergienko closed several months ago. One such interdenominational school is “Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary” (See press release 09-14 from 28.4.2009).

In a few instances, expansion is still occurring. This is especially true for the Neo-Charismatic movement, which, despite very large number of “students” in congregations, is only now beginning to develop institutes capable of seminary-level training. Citing its geographical advantage, Greater-Europe-Mission-sponsored “Zaporozhye Bible College” just north of Crimea is involved in a major building programme.

Fifty-five of the roughly 150 institutes in the former Soviet Union are members of the E-AAA: 28 of these are in Ukraine, another 15 in Russia (seven in Moscow). One member each is found in Belarus, Moldova, Armenia and Lithuania. The Baptist seminary in Akademgorodok near Novosibirsk and a Baptist school for expository preaching in Samara/Volga are not members. Five to six years ago, the E-AAA listed a total enrolment of 7.000 among its members. Sannikov is unsure as to whether that number has since decreased. Counting enrolment has always been problematic: A Ukrainian school and E-AAA-member which has been teaching by extension for ex. has claimed an enrolment of 5.000. And how long are students to be considered enrolled if they have begun a programme without completing it? Consequently, the E-AAA has recently developed criteria for counting enrolment, hoping it will better reflect the true nature of an institution’s work.

In Central Asia, Tashkent/Uzbekistan has an officially-registered Baptist school; a second one allied primarily with Pentecostal and Charismatic circles is active in Almaty/Kazakhstan. Ukrainian institutions are involved in aiding several unregistered schools in the Central Asian republics. None of these have been accredited by the E-AAA. In addition, not a few future Central Asian pastors come to Russia or Ukraine for theological training.

The E-AAA, which was officially founded in 1997, includes Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist and interdenominational schools – Adventist ones are lacking. Though several institutes are located elsewhere, the E-AAA regards itself responsible for Russian-language schools within the area of the former Soviet Union. Director Sannikov is keen to point out that the E-AAA did not develop its criteria for granting accreditation – it is not a state-recognised accreditation - on its own. It is the youngest regional member of the “International Council for Evangelical Theological Education” (ICETE). Founded with the support of the World Evangelical Association in 1980, the ICETE’s seven regional divisions now cover the globe.

The work of the E-AAA is funded by its 55 members. Regular dues are paid; an additional fee is charged for every student enrolled in an accredited programme. Expenses for the visits of E-AAA-delegations to its member schools are also paid by the host. Sannikov points out that the E-AAA does not restrict itself to issues of accreditation. Its research wing, headed by Taras Dyatlik (Rivne/West Ukraine), publishes a paper journal and books as CDs, gathers historical documents and promotes manuals on leadership. It holds conferences and training seminars for teachers; the results of which are often published. One recent project focused on the effectiveness of theological training in Euro-Asia. This research centre is not funded by the member schools – it receives grants from interested foreign agencies and foundations.

Beginnings in Odessa
Dr. Sergey Sannikov has a long history of involvement in Russian and Ukrainian theological education. When the Soviet-era “All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists” opened its first seminary for on-location study in January 1991, Sannikov was its rector. But quarters in Moscow’s historic “First Baptist Church” were extremely cramped and a library was virtually non-existent. As a result, the decision was made after one session to transfer to Odessa, where a regional Bible school founded in 1989 had sufficient room. In two years, after the logistic issues were solved, the seminary was to return to Moscow.

Yet the liquidation of the Soviet Union in December 1991 and the splitting up of the “All-Union Council” shortly thereafter created a completely new setting. Initially Odessa remained the seminary of the new Ukrainian Union; a second seminary was opened in Moscow in 1993. The focal centre of Ukrainian seminary training is now located at Irpen just west of Kiev.

For political reasons, Sannikov believes it wise that the old Baptist Union was divided. It was not politically expedient to answer to Union headquarters located in a foreign country. “We do not need organisational unity to express the unity we feel in Christ,” he explained. “I do not suffer because of our separation.” But he admitted that spiritual costs are involved: “There is a certain nationalist movement in our congregations, and it has a negative influence on the life of the church and our relations with one another. One group stresses the Russian, another, the Ukrainian. I cannot say that one side is guiltier than the other, but every congregation has people who place too much stress on issues of nationality.”

But the E-AAA-Director believes Ukraine will remain a bridge between East and West for the foreseeable future. “Ukraine will not be pressing as hard as Georgia to enter the European Union. We are not Russian – we have a different mentality. We played a role in the middle between the 16th and 18th centuries. Perhaps we will always be in the middle – neither Europe nor Asia. But that is really quite OK!”

The address of the E-AAA’s Russian-language website

William Yoder, Ph.D.
Department for External Church Relations, RUECB
Moscow, 22 August 2009
baptistrelations@yandex.ru
www.baptistrelations.org” and “www.baptist.org.ru
Tel/fax: 007-495-954-9231

A release of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. It is informational in character and does not express a sole, official position of RUECB-leadership.

Image: Moscow Theological Seminary