Moscow Theological Seminary of the United Methodist Church finished our two-week summer session. What a blessed and powerful experience.
One story out of several meaningful events is my experience from the first week’s Saturday morning devotional. Every morning we start with a short devotion on a psalm, given by a student or faculty. We sing; we pray.
The first week of the session, Dr. Sondra Wheeler from Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C., taught the course “Ethical Dimensions of Ministry.” The course dealt with problems of ethical judgment, leadership, and moral and spiritual life in ministry.
These are some of the questions that engaged our students this week:
• How do you preach on ethically challenging passages from the Psalms?
• In what ways would you counsel a family that has just lost a child?
• Where do you find truthful methods to deal with sin and suffering in the midst of your congregation?
• What are the healthy ways to keep each other accountable?
• By what means do you deal with power in ministry?
• To what extent is maintaining personal boundaries in ministry a spiritual discipline?
The result was transformational and therapeutic, one that created a faith-building atmosphere. The level of trust in the class was so high that students were able to share personal stories that brought tears to our eyes. Every morning’s reflection on Psalms showed how much stronger as moral guides the students were becoming in the course of this class.
The second week Dr. Edgardo Colon-Emerick from Duke Divinity School taught the course “Church of the Sacraments.” Each of the main blocks of the course: Eucharist, baptism, and ministry included some readings, academic lectures, discussion of important questions, and an experiential practical element to it.
We read from the Book of Discipline, from Alexander Schmemann’s Eucharist and By Water and the Spirit, from The Roman Catholic Catechesis, and the World Council of Church’s Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry. We also attended a morning liturgy in a Russian Orthodox Church, and we invited a Russian Orthodox priest to visit and lecture on the Council of the Orthodox Churches, that was supposed to have taken place that week on the island of Crete.
We served communion at the seminary chapel and went to the Moscow River for a Renewal of Baptism on a fine mid-June afternoon. Not too many United Methodists can say that they had their Renewal of Baptism performed in the Moscow River. Probably all of them were in that class.
We also held our first discipleship groups this session. While these gatherings include traditional Bible study, prayer time, and sharing personal testimonies, we also lead the group members through the exercise of building those groups in order to teach them how to form their own discipleship groups in time. Students are excited to be part of groups of disciples that grow disciples. Please keep the seminary and students in prayer as we embark on this new endeavor in discipleship.
As the final highlight of the session, we enrolled five more students. Bishop Eduard Khegay preached a fine sermon at the commencement.
Meanwhile, you can always find more stories and pictures on the English/Russian Moscow Theological Seminary of the United Methodist Church Facebook page.
Thank you for your prayers and support for the work of God through the Moscow Seminary of the UMC. Your support underwrites education costs for our students like Igor, Slava, and Natalya. We appreciate your participation now more than ever.
From Russia with love,
Sergei Nikolaev, Ph.D.,
Moscow Theological Seminary
of the United Methodist Church President,
E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism.
Photo: Moscow Theological Seminary