The sun sets over Odessa Theological Seminary. Photo by Amy Schmid.
On the outskirts of Odessa, Ukraine, across a field and along a rutted road, is Odessa Theological Seminary—a small collection of buildings, a congregation that meets in a cement block structure, and a new church that’s been under construction for years. The seminary has about 30 full-time students and a small group of faculty.
The seminary has its challenges: how to develop the programs to best teach Christianity in a post- Communist context, how to find and work with students, and, of course, how to fund its work.
In Ukraine, the average annual income is about $3,000. But faculty members are optimistic about the school’s future, and are finding ways to connect with God’s work in the community.
“We are starting to place an emphasis on Christian education. The church really needs that. We’re dreaming that somehow we’ll be more involved in that area—perhaps with homeless children. That is something that gives us hope for the future, not just as a school, but also as Christian workers.”
Alexander Geichenko, dean of the Odessa Theological Seminary
“I love to the see the mature women come to the part-time programs—people who are keeping these small-town Sunday schools afloat. Some of the women in the Christian education program come in and they’re like piranha fish. They’re hungry.”
Mary Raber, professor and Mission Network worker
“We have an ongoing challenge in that there are more than 50 theological schools in one Baptist union. Some schools think that they would be more competitive to have foreign professors, but we try to place an emphasis on local professors—we need to pay them, but it’s good for our future.”
Alexander Abramov, professor of history