In Estonia, the first Baltic School of Congregational Development took place – and with more than 100 participants it proved to be a real success and an encouragement for the revitalization and the renewal of local churches in the Baltic Area.
The atmosphere was filled with anticipation as pastors and leaders gathered for the first joint leadership training event on Baltic soil in the United Methodist Church in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: the School of Congregational Development. The aim of this event is to equip and empower leaders for ministry in and from the local church – and to create an environment for spiritual direction, new vision and renewed inspiration in personal discipleship, in team leadership and in ministry in the local church. The focus was on revitalization and renewal of local churches and on ministry with youth – and in order to strengthen the impact of the teaching, local churches were encouraged to send a team of leaders with their pastor. During the event all participating churches were expected to begin to create a development plan, which they can continue to work on after having returned home.
Some teaching and inspiration was brought from abroad as Junius Dotson and Adam Hamilton (DVD) from the United Methodist Church in the USA taught on leadership and preaching. Additionally Bishop Christian Alsted taught on vision and call, and on the development of worship. However, most of the teachers came from the Baltic context – from the United Methodist Church as well as from the Lutheran and Baptist traditions, all of them being excellent leaders and pastors with experience from thriving ministries, like Üllas Tankler, Peep Saar, Marjana Luist and Gunta Grina Sologuba.
An important part of the School of Congregational Development is to have the opportunity to be part of conversations with other pastors and leaders in the church, and to discover that you are not alone with your challenges and your joys – and of course to meet old friends and to form friendships with other people with a passion for the growth and development of the church.
After three successful Schools of Congregational Development in the Nordic countries with a small group of participants from the Baltic countries, the area cabinet had decided to add another School of Congregational Development in Estonia to attract more participants from the region. The response exceeded the expectations of the organizers as 110 people had registered for the School of Congregational Development in the Baltic Mission Center in Tallinn, Estonia. The next event will be a joint Nordic and Baltic School in Tallinn, Estonia (September 24-27, 2015) where we hope to have 350-400 participants.
Bishop of the Nordic and Baltic area
The Fund for Mission in Europe is an instrument of mutual learning and sharing of the European Methodist Council. Each year it provides ministries in the areas of «Working towards Sustainability», «Theological Education», «Being a Learning Church» and «Diaconal Work» with financial assistance. Thanks to your donations, the Fund for Mission in Europe was also able to support this first Baltic School of Congregational Development with an amount of EUR 4500.—. You made a difference in the life and ministry of many people. Thank you!