2017 annual budget of TAT $ 219,294 USD
$ 163,225 USD
$ 56,069 USD to go
TAT financial update on November 30th, 2017
Panel speakers at the LCMC Annual Gathering, October 10th of 2017.
From left: Ken Jones, Siimon Haamer, John Kline, Peri Rasolondraibe.
The Friends of Estonia Summit in Excelsior, MN, October 9, 2017.
We are thankful to God for the fruitful co-operation of Tartu Academy of Theology with the Estonian Lutheran Church Seminary, now going on 5 years. We all feel the same heartbeat that binds us together, valuing Scripture and a personal relationship with God.
Support that has been given to TAT from our brothers and sisters in Christ has not only been very significant for the Seminary and TAT, but evidently also to the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church. I know there are very many prayers in addition to these donations and we have felt the special blessing that comes through faithful prayers.
The Seminary has seen good developments in co-operation with TAT during these 5 years, but much more is ahead of us. We have a long-term mission that needs committed work during future generations. Our task is to raise a new generation of church leaders to guarantee continuity of mission work among Estonians. TAT is a good example: Pastor Eenok Haamer started TAT 25 years ago and today his son, Siimon, continues in the mission.
Obviously our work isn’t without problems and obstacles. We are still strongly influenced by 50 years of Soviet occupation when Christians underwent strong pressure. Today the Estonian Lutheran Church, the largest Christian denomination in Estonia, is struggling with decreasing numbers of church members. As a result of this, we have a situation where the Church no longer has sufficient funds for pastors training in the Seminary. Usually one third ($125,000 USD) of the Seminary’s budget has been covered by the Estonian Lutheran Church, but according to the budget for next year it will be only $82,000 USD. This creates a $43,000 USD shortfall. Church leaders are of course aware of the importance of pastors training for the Church, while at the same time parish pastors struggle with their daily income.
To fill that gap, the Seminary along with TAT is organizing a fundraising banquet in the spring of 2018. These kinds of events are not common in Estonia but we are trying something new and hope to raise at least $10,000 USD. We are looking for a matching partner for this event to make it more successful and to make a strong start with a new tradition in Estonian society.
If someone would like to help us with this shortfall a donation can be sent through the same channels as you send to TAT, just write the designation as “TAT–Seminary”. It is of course very important that stable financing of TAT also continues.
We feel deeply that the work in our hands is God’s given call and mission. It isn’t just a job or an option for us. Thus, we should boldly go on with the ministry of training and equipping pastors and workers for His name and Kingdom sake. Together with the Lord of the Harvest and our good partners we can complete this mission. Jesus’ encouraging promise is still true, “I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last” John 15:16.
Rector Ove Sander celebrating Holy Communion with students.
At the time in 1991 when Estonia was becoming free from Soviet occupation many people found their way to church. I was at the time in my last year high school and my parents suggested I go with some classmates to confirmation. I was not baptized and everything connected with church was very unfamiliar to me. Never the less, I found a good contact, Pastor Eenok Haamer who was leading the confirmation classes. His speech touched my heart and after confirmation I continued to go to Sunday services. In the beginning I was sitting alone, but it wasn’t very long before Pastor Eenok called me to be a member of the church council. Because of his invitation I decided to go and study at the Academy.
Even when taking the entrance examinations, I didn't realize that I go to college. I just wanted to know more about religion and faith. I didn't think at all about a call to be a pastor. Today I can say that one step prepared the next for me. I believe that all of this has been God's plan for me.
I have very good memories from my college years. I remember with thankfulness, distinguished professors with whom it was good to talk about theological topics. Friendships that were formed during studies continue to be important today. My schoolmates are working in different congregations all over Estonia but we still find ways to grow together in friendship. Special fellowship between students of the Academy was developed with daily prayer meetings, common church services and summer sessions. We didn't receive only academical education but we also learned to pray and trust God together.
Now I have been working more than 10 years as a pastor in the same rural parish where I was baptized and confirmed. Already during my college years Pastor Eenok encouraged me to serve next to him. With support of my schoolmates I started a Sunday school in my congregation. Today my wife, who is also alumni of the Academy, is a Sunday school teacher and also the organist.
I'm thankful I had chance to learn at this school, to grow in faith and to find lifelong fellowship of Christians.
Through the partnership between East European Missions Network (EEMN) and Estonian Lutherans, we were privileged to facilitate two Friendship English Language Bible Camps, one hosted by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Tartu, and the other by St. Lawrence Lutheran Church in Kuressaree, on the Island of Saaremaa. Working together with Tartu Academy of Theology, thirteen friends from CO, CA, WA, IA, and ND joined in a Team to provide worship and teaching centered around the life experiences of Joseph. In each camp participants were placed in classes according to their level of English (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced), while children were divided by age level (Elementary, Middle School and Sr. High).
Since the wall came down in 1989, EEMN (which began in 1991) has held Language Camps in several countries in E Europe and Russia. This was the 12th year of Camp in Estonia, and it has been a joy to welcome many people, some who have been coming most of those years. Each day opens and closes with much robust singing and some sharing of testimonies by Team members, while the children put on skits. The daily schedule includes two class periods for teaching and a break time for snacks. Language lessons assist people with their conversational English and we use Bible stories based on characters as the curriculum base.
Over the years many friendships have been developed, and we have seen people move into different levels with their English and deeper levels in faith. Since the education system in Estonia includes learning English from elementary levels, many have found it helpful to have opportunity to practice speaking English with those whose primary language is English. Through the sharing and learning in classes there is much joy and laughter as we work together!
Team members each commit a time of about 12 days for one camp (about 18 days 2 camps), and each raises the money needed for travel and expenses (this year about $2400). Training and preparation is provided through EEMN, and we make use of Skype or Zoom conferences to get to know each other. Team Leaders, Pastor Bob and Patti Nordvall, can be contacted if you are interested in being part of the Estonia Team in 2018. You can also contact Director, Pastor David and Angela Breidenbach, EEMN, regarding one of the other Camp options for serving. We would love to visit with you!
Contacts: Bob and Patti 701-391-0182 pastorbob(at)eemn.org
David and Angela 505-321-2820 pastordavid(at)eemn.org
For more information go to www.eemn.org
Youth are presenting Joseph’s story in the English Bible Camp.
Every year it is at the same time a bit sad but also so very encouraging when June arrives. Students with whom we have shared our lives during several years are prepared to graduate. It is joyful when these former students become co-workers in the Kingdom of God. 12 students received their diplomas on June 16th. 6 finished an undergraduate program, 3 completed the graduate program and 3 two year church musician course. 4 are planning to continue their studies to become pastors, 3 graduated pastoral care and counseling (i.e. the hospital chaplaincy specialty), and 2 are graduates of the Christian Culture master program. This means we are able to again provide new workers for the church in Estonia. God be praised!
This Spring I had the opportunity to spend time in the States from April 28th through May 10th with my 16 year-old son Eerik. First, we visited Bethany Lutheran Church in McCallsburg, Iowa, bringing them greetings, an update, and thanksgiving for their partnership with us. Then we participated in the LCMC Leadership Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. Eerik actively participated and was able to meet many people. After that I flew to Denver for two days and Eerik took a flight to Philadelphia to spend some time with our friends there. After my time in Colorado, I traveled to Minneapolis for the weekend and visited several congregations in Minnesota. At the end of the trip I spent two days with my son in Philadelphia.
12 students graduated on June 16, 2017 (some of them are missing from the picture).
I had many fruitful meetings with our partners and new ideas for co-operation were created. It is a blessing to have so many good friends around the world, knowing that they care for us and Estonia. Mount Calvary Church in Excelsior, Minnesota offered the possibility of having a summit of Friends of Estonia in the beginning of October while I'm again visiting in Minneapolis. I have been asked to be one of the speakers at the LCMC Annual Gathering. I'm happy that good ideas are becoming realities: the first Friends of Estonia Summit will take place October 9th at 7 pm at Mount Calvary Church (301 County Road 19, Excelsior, MN)! Come and learn more about our work and the challenges we face. Share new ideas and possibilities with our other partners. We so appreciate your support. See the invitation below announcing the event for more information.
Special thanks to Brian and Barbara Felt from Denver who covered all our travel costs: in- and outbound flights, domestic travels etc. Also, special thanks to all of you who opened your homes to us. God bless your loving hearts.
Our student Kristjan wrote in his testimony for the April newsletter of his tremendous life-changing experience of realizing that God Is. I certainly agree with him and add that We Are because of His mercy!
Pastor Bob Nordvall
TAT representative in U.S.
National Field Coordinator of
East European Missions Network
cell: +1 701-391-0182
Pastor Siimon Haamer
Dean of Tartu Academy of Theology
cell: +372 515-9127