From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Eight programs will get funds for pastoral education in Europe

Date 26 Feb 2001 17:37:21

Feb. 26, 2001 News media contact: Linda Green·(615)742-5470·Nashville, Tenn.

A UMNS Report
By Kathy Gilbert*

Eight ministries seeking to develop pastoral leadership in Eastern and
Central Europe were granted funding during a Feb. 5 meeting in Zurich,
The meeting was the first of four annual gatherings that have been planned
to address funding programs for theological education in post-communist

The Fund for Theological Education in Post-Communist Europe was approved by
the 2000 General Conference and will provide $3 million to several
theological programs in Europe for the 2001-2004 quadrennium. The United
Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry will provide $2 million
from its reserve funds, and the other $1 million will come from General
Conference action.

"The United Methodist Church in post-communist Europe has continued to grow,
establish new churches, and reach youth and young adults with the gospel
with limited funding and in the face of conflict and war. The need for
trained pastoral clergy leadership is urgent," the General Conference
delegates stated in a resolution adopted last May.

"The dynamic rise of the church's ministry in post-communist Europe has
called for renewed effort to educate pastoral leaders in the emerging
church," said the Rev. Roger Ireson, top staff executive at the Nashville,
Tenn.,-based board. "This program will undergird the institutions in
post-communist Europe as they prepare a new generation of Christian

The board's coordinating committee on theological education met with Bishop
Heinrich Bolleter and representatives of the theological programs at the
Methodist Center in Zurich.

"If the church is to continue to grow in areas formerly dominated by
communism, the theological education of pastors and lay leadership is
essential," said the Rev. Robert Kohler, a staff executive in the board's
section of elders and local pastors. "The Fund for Theological Education in
post-communist Europe will provide a solid foundation for the development of
pastoral leadership in Eastern and Central Europe." 

Programs that will receive funds include:
·	Russia United Methodist Theological Seminary, Moscow.
·	Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary, Tallinn.
·	Methodist Theological Seminary in Poland, Warsaw.
·	Graz/Waiern Program for the Balkans.
·	Bulgaria Local Pastors School.
·	Macedonia Local Pastors School.
·	Czech Republic Theological Program in Prague.
·	Slovakia Training at Banska Bystrica.

"The centers represented a variety of programs that reflect the specific
cultural response to the spiritual and community outreach needs in each
setting," said Joaquin Garcia, a staff executive in the board's section of
deacons and diaconal ministries. "It has been an important reminder for the
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry to encourage and support each
training center to develop [its] own unique response to the need for
contextual theological education in post- communist countries." 

The full committee on theological education will present a report to the
Division of Ordained Ministry at its March 24 meeting. If approved,
distribution of funds will begin in May. The distribution of funds will be
reviewed annually.

"It was an honor to share in conversations regarding the training of pastors
for congregations in post-communist Europe," said the Rev. Mary Ann Moman, a
staff executive for the Division of Ordained Ministry. "Each school
represented at the table is serving in a different way and providing needed
leadership training. As the stories were told, I sensed a growing
collegiality among the partners at the table."
# # #

*Gilbert is a staff member of the Office of Interpretation at the United
Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville, Tenn.

United Methodist News Service
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