The story of The United Methodist Church in Russia is 130 years old and includes Hitler’s invasion of Europe, the dissolution of churches, and heart-breaking accounts of the persecution of Methodist clergy in prisons or labor camps.
It also includes the story of Moscow Theological Seminary of The United Methodist Church, founded in 1991.
With a main campus in Moscow and three regional centers across 11 time zones, Moscow Theological Seminary is the largest United Methodist student body in Europe, training not only future pastors for the Methodist church, but also lay leaders.
“The leadership of the church immediately realized that in order for Russia to have an indigenous Methodist church we needed a Methodist seminary in Russia,” said Dr. Sergei Nikolaev, president of Moscow United Methodist Seminary. “Now there are 98 students studying at the Moscow Seminary.”
A person who seeks to become a pastor in Russia, or anywhere in all of Eurasia, faces a huge uphill struggle. Answering the call of God to pastoral ministry often means stepping outside the cultural norm in a community that has been agnostic. Answering the call of God to pastoral ministry often means a large decline in earnings and a large sacrifice to attend the seminary.
During the 2019 Annual Conference session, South Georgia United Methodists will have the opportunity to partner with United Methodists in Russia through the Conference’s special offering, which has been designated to support Moscow United Methodist Seminary. Offerings will help provide the means for students to attend the seminary and will help the seminary continue to be instrumental in helping revive Methodism in Russia.
“Our special offering will support the training of generations of pastors who will preach the Gospel in Russia and surrounding countries,” Bishop R. Lawson Bryan said. “We are reminded of John Wesley’s statement, ‘The world is my parish.’ Thank you for giving to this special offering through which South Georgia can be part of helping others come to know Jesus as Savior and serve Him as Lord.”
A member of the seminary’s first graduating class, Dr. Nikolaev, a former atheist who professed his faith through the outreach of a United Methodist Church in Russia, says that one of the greatest blessings of being a seminary professor is seeing the transformation in the students’ lives.
“Because the Methodist church, the modern Methodist church in Russia is so young, we didn’t learn how to be Methodists in our families, from our parents and grandparents,” Dr. Nikolaev said. “So seminary is the key place where leaders in Russia learn how to be United Methodist leaders, and your support will make the Methodist church in Russia stronger. Thank you.”
Congregations are encouraged to watch a video to hear Dr. Nikolaev’s testimony and share his story and the story of Moscow United Methodist Seminary.
For more detailed information and to download a bulletin insert and video to use to promote the special offering, visit www.sgaumc.org/specialoffering. Congregations are encouraged to send and present their offering during Annual Conference’s June 2 opening worship service.