Access to a comprehensive theological education varies greatly for leaders across our connection. In Africa, Europe, and the Philippines, organized as the central conferences, access to education is not keeping pace with the rapid growth of the Church in those regions.
For those living in central conferences, receiving a theological education poses significant challenges including:
- Seminaries are too far away or too expensive
- Seminaries struggle to find well-trained professors and to offer library resources in needed languages
- Courses of Study for initial and continuing education need to be developed
- Scholarships are needed for initial and post-graduate studies
These barriers prevent the formal education of future pastors that could transform congregations around the world. In order to minister effectively and be prepared to serve as leaders for the challenges of the world, we must provide our leaders with the necessary tools and resources to be successful through education in the Wesleyan tradition.
Impact Story: Maina Sashina
Maina Sashina is not just the first Udmurt in world history to receive a degree in theology from a Methodist Seminary, she is most likely the first of her indigenous ethnic group ever to graduate from any Protestant seminary! In June 2015, Maina received her degree from the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary in Estonia, eleven years after a mission partnership between Estonian Methodists and the Udmurt people began.
It was a realization that Jesus loves the Udmurt people that inspired Maina to form a ministry that is today called Inkrezh (meaning Divine Melody in the Udmurt language). Wearing traditional costumes they dance and sing songs which they write themselves in their own cultural style to tell their people that Inmar (God) loves the Udmurt people and sent his son, Jesus. The Udmurts have an ancient legend of Kyldyshin, the Divine Word that took clothing. Maina likes to tell of the excitement of the Udmurt people when they see the connection with John 1 and Jesus, the Word that became flesh.
With her degree completed in the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary, Maina’s passion and vision for her people remain as strong as ever but with the added knowledge and skills that we pray will be used by God to fulfill her calling. Maina’s vision is to see an indigenous Udmurt church praising God in the language and cultural forms that He has blessed them with and being active witnesses bringing both spiritual and cultural revival to their people.
* Story and photos from the Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences website. Visit endowftecc.org to learn more.