TARTU ACADEMY OF THEOLOGY

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2017 annual budget of TAT $ 219,294 USD

$ 163,225 USD

pledged

$ 56,069 USD to go

TAT financial update on November 30th, 2017

GIVE

Are We Confessing Our Membership in God’s Kingdom?

Pastor Siimon Haamer, dean

I forgot to report on our fall admissions in the September newsletter. We are again thankful to God. This year, 28 new students started their studies: 18 Bachelor, 7 Master and 3 Church Musician students.

 

In the beginning of October I again had a chance to visit the US for two special reasons: on the evening of October 9th we had the first Friends of Estonia Summit at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior MN, and the next day I was one of the keynote panel speakers at the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) Annual Gathering in Minneapolis.

 

Since the Gathering was celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, presentation topics concerned Lutheran theology. My panel discussion was on Two Kingdoms. It was a great privilege to share with the audience my thoughts and personal experience about the topic based on the Estonian context. During the 2nd half of the 20th century we had Soviet occupation. The authorities tried to do everything to wipe out Christianity from Estonia, but Christians just couldn’t be loyal to their civil leaders. To keep our faith and to be loyal to God’s Kingdom we were

Panel speakers at the LCMC Annual Gathering, October 10th of 2017.

From left: Ken Jones, Siimon Haamer, John Kline, Peri Rasolondraibe.

forced to be in opposition. Pastors were permitted to preach only inside of church buildings. Public media and all other channels were blocked for them. Because of the persecution people were afraid to go to the churches. Basically, this means two generations have been without the Word of God. Today we experience the results of that. The Estonian Lutheran Church membership, which was around 90% of our population in 1937, is only 2,2% today. I hope that churches in the US and other Western countries value their privilege of sharing freely the Word of God and representing Christian values in public. Sometimes it may seem easier not to be dealing with all the hassle that public communication brings, and we need to consider if we aren’t voluntarily doing the same thing Estonian Christians were forced to accept and do during Soviet occupation.

 

The Friends of Estonia Summit was a success. We had about 60 participants and hopefully it was some kind of energizer for all of us. We are most thankful for our hosts from Mount Calvary Lutheran Church and their great gift of hospitality in preparing a room and meal for everyone. The Summit was recorded and this video is available on Youtube at the following link https://youtu.be/FA331GbHkP8. This is an excellent resource for getting to know us better.

 

Our plan is to organize a second Friends of Estonia Summit in Des Moines (US, Iowa) on October 8th or 9th, 2018. The date will be finalised after the program of the LCMC Gathering in 2018 is made available.

 

God is good all the time!

Finances

 

This Autumn we have a great deficit again. We need $56,039 USD to meet our annual budget needs for 2017. At the same time, we are of course very happy and grateful for God's blessing. We have so many good friends who share in the importance of our mission.

 

If you are able, please consider sending an extra gift of support to Tartu Academy of Theology before December 31, 2017. There are several options for making a donation. To find them go to To Donate subpage. Different project funding options are available on Projects subpage.

 

Thank you for your continued kind support, encouragement, and faithful prayers. May all of you be rewarded by God according to His mercy.

Volli Nugis with his family.

Student Voices: Volli

 

 

I have been involved with church since 1992 when I was baptized after catechesis and I became a member of the church. For a long time, I was the coordinator of the ALPHA course and a board member in my church. Due to changes in my life I became a member of Nõmme Rahu Congregation of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tallinn, the capital city. It was there that I decided to study theology as I saw my calling to serve the Lutheran church in becoming a clergyman.

 

Today I have acquired a Bachelor degree from the Lutheran Church Seminary and I continue my studies in the Master’s program as it is a precondition to becoming a pastor. During my studies I intend to focus on exploring faith as a concept and passing this knowledge on to the members of my congregation as well as fellow students and, if possible, even beyond. In my opinion Christian faith cannot be a theoretical affirmation of uncertainty, it has to be the appreciation of something that exceeds the ordinary. I have touched upon this topic in my

Bachelor’s thesis: “Faith above faith. The concept of faith in the texts of Søren Kierkegaard and Paul Tillich”, and I am deeply interested in continuing my work on this matter. Relationship between a man and a God is dependent on faith, the importance which is impossible to overestimate.

 

I believe that in our society, which is constantly drifting away from its roots, it is extremely important to study, understand and explain the essence of Christianity. Faith is, after all, one of the main foundations of being Christian and therefore I intend to study, understand and pass on the basic knowledge of theology.

 

My dream is to be a pastor in some small church in South-Estonia or if things go differently – part-time vicar in a bigger church in the city. More than a few of my friends have assured me that one day I will make a very good clergyman and even my lecturer stated that my spiritual talent should be used for the benefit of ecclesiastical work because: “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few“ Lk 10:2.

The Friends of Estonia Summit in Excelsior, MN, October 9, 2017.

Summit–Result of a Good Partnership

Linda Saveraid

Member of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church Foundation board

 

Over the past several years Mount Calvary Lutheran Church Foundation from Excelsior, Minnesota, has presented grants to the Tartu Academy of Theology in Estonia.  We are excited about the work the Academy is doing and the progress it has made since our first hearing of it.

 

Siimon Haamer visited Minneapolis last May and stopped by for a brief visit to update us on what is happening. Financial struggles continue to plague the mission and after a conversation we discussed having a first ever Summit of churches in the United States who lend support to Estonia. We agreed to provide the space in Minneapolis at our church and to arrange for a meal for participants. About 60 people attended and a second summit is planned for next year.

Mount Calvary is a church community devoted to proclaiming the power of the Spirit and reveling in the love of Christ. Our mission is to make, build up and send faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. We welcome with open arms all those who seek to realize the eternal truths of God’s story. As a foundation board we know how important the work is in Estonia and we’re happy to support such a worthy project. Participants from several states were present to hear about the work being done. In the past we have provided monies for scholarships and a special children’s book project. Both were very successful.

 

Our church was delighted to host this summit. Expanding the network of people who want to support and help TAT is important work. We look forward to next year.

Christmas Greetings

Pastor Eenok Haamer, president

 

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:18

 

My heart rejoices about all good things that God has done and will do for us every day. Especially before Christmas we want to notice and recognize all the good that He has done.

 

Our treasure is Jesus Christ. Without Him we can’t understand all of God’s mercies. Jesus is teaching us to see other people around us. He is opening our eyes to see outwards beyond of our home and loved ones. Today I’m reminding you of what you have done. You are looking beyond the border of your country and are noticing one small country and nation, Estonia.

 

I pray that God’s rich blessing would fill your hearts every day in your life and especially during the coming Christmas time.

Challenging Time for the Estonian Lutheran Church in Training Pastors

Ove Sander, rector of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Seminary

 

 

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.

Current Financial Situation

 

During the 3rd quarter of the year our deficit almost doubled and on September 30th it reached $28,849. We are very thankful for everyone’s support. Now it is possible to donate to specific projects of the mission of TAT. Please visit Projects subpage for more information. We would be especially happy to see commitments for at least a 1-year period. That gives us more stability and encouragement to go on with our mission.

 

The TAT Matching Fund Program continues through 2017. It is the 3rd year of that program. Please consider partnering with us in this program! More information is available under To Donate.

 

Thank you for being a valued partner in our mission! May God reward all of you according to His mercy!

 

Quick financial update of TAT

Total budget for 2017...................................$ 219,294

Income during Jan.1st – Sept. 30th ...........$ 135,497

Budget for Jan. 1st–Sept. 30th ..................$  164,346

Balance on September 30th.....................$ -28,849

 

Alumni Voices: Aivo

 

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.

 

EEMN English Bible Camps Welcome New Short Term Missionaries

Bob and Patti Nordvall

 

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.

We Are Because of His Mercy!

Siimon Haamer, dean

 

 

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!

Current Financial Situation

 

The first half of 2017 is approaching again with a deficit of $16,131 USD. It means we really need your support. To give a clearer overview of our needs, I am outlining project funding options in this newsletter. We would be especially happy to see commitments for at least a 1-year period. That gives us more stability and encouragement to go on with our mission and to make new development plans.

 

The TAT Matching Fund Program continues through 2017. It is the 3rd year of that program. Please consider partnering with us in this program! More information is available on our website tat.news under „To Donate“.

 

Thank you for being a valued partner in our mission! May God reward all of you according to His mercy!

 

Quick financial update of TAT

Total budget for 2017...................................$ 219,294

Income during Jan. 1st–June 19th .............$ 98,856

Budget for Jan. 1st–June 19th ....................$ 114,987

Balance on June 19th ................................$ -16,131

 

Project Funding

 

To offer an opportunity to make designated donations we are presenting several project funding options. When donating to a specific project write a check to EEMN or Charity Lutheran and designate "TAT" and the project in the memo field. Addresses and alternative giving options are available at To Donate page. Be sure to designate the specific project.

 

Mentors Training September 2017–June 2018

(designation “TAT Mentors”)

 

Purpose

To develop a much needed mentoring network for the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church by training mentors for students and pastors (particularly new pastors) in offering support on their spiritual journeys. This will create a more unified body of pastors and help to avoid burnout.

 

Cost

Monthly:   $900

Total need:  $9,000

 

Use of Funds

To cover all costs of the training seminars: accommodation, catering, study materials, lecturers’ salaries, etc. 16 pastors will be participating.

 

Scholarships for Students

(designation “TAT Scholarship”)

 

Purpose

To cover a student’s tuition fee, giving opportunity to those with low income to receive education and offering encouragement to the call into mission work. Each student receiving a scholarship would keep in contact with his or her donor at least quarterly.

 

Cost

Undergraduate (bachelor) program

Monthly: $250

Annually: $3,000

Total Need (6 Semesters):  $9,000

 

Graduate (master) program

Monthly: $250

Annually: $3,000

Total Need (4 Semesters):  $6,000

 

 

Read testimonies of students and alumni...

Endowed Chair of Pastoral Care and Counseling

(designation “TAT Pastoral Care”)

 

Purpose

To finance the Chair of Pastoral Care and Counseling through special funding over a 3-year period, 2018–2020. The Chair provides specialized training for students preparing to become hospital chaplains, i.e. pastoral care givers and counselors. He/she nurtures spiritual growth in the students and organises and facilitates life-long learning courses, providing a systematic study process and integrating theoretical knowledge with practical skills.

 

Cost

Monthly:   $1,600

Annually:  $19,200

3-year period: $57,600

 

Use of Funds

Project funds will be used to pay monthly salary for one professor whose responsibility is to fulfill the purpose of the chair.

 

Endowed Chair of Ministerial Training

(designation “TAT Ministerial”)

 

Purpose

To finance the Chair of Ministerial Training through special funding over a 3-year period, 2018–2020. The Chair provides ministerial training for students who are preparing to become pastors and nurtures spiritual growth of pastoral students through mentoring and supervised internship programs.

 

Cost

Monthly:   $1,600

Annually:  $19,200

3-year period: $57,600

 

Use of Funds

Project funds will be used to pay monthly salary for one professor whose responsibility is to fulfill the purpose of the chair.

Library Development 2017–2019: Hard Copies

(designation “TAT Library")

 

Purpose

To buy necessary theological literature in English, the major foreign language for our students, including recent publications from around the world.

 

Cost

Monthly:   $500

Annually:  $6,000

 

Library Development 2017–2019: E-Journals and E-Books

(designation “TAT E-Books")

 

Purpose

To offer more affordable, flexible, and effective study opportunities for students who live in many different places across Estonia, allowing access through the Internet to study books and recent publications. This is especially important because our study process is carried out by sessions–one week per month.

 

Cost

Monthly:   $1,000

Annually:  $12,000

 

Salary of the Dean of TAT,

Pastor Siimon Haamer

(designation “TAT Siimon")

 

Purpose

To pay the salary and provide a stable source of income for the Dean of TAT, Pastor Siimon Haamer, so that daily activities of the school will continue and new developments can be initiated. This is more than a full-time job and vital that full-funding be provided to ensure continued operation of the school. Due to income needs pastors in Estonia often are forced to work two jobs. This is not possible with this key position.

 

Cost

Monthly:   $1,700

Annually:  $20,400

 

Salary of the President of TAT,

Pastor Eenok Haamer

(designation “TAT Eenok")

 

Purpose

To pay the salary for the President of TAT, Pastor Eenok Haamer, ensuring that Eenok is able to share his faith and practical experience of being parish pastor for 53 years and to  honor Eenok’s commitment to TAT throughout its existence since 1992, during which for 20 years he didn’t receive any salary for his work with the school. Much necessary spiritual guidance comes from Pastor Eenok who is always connected with TAT in providing lessons on the field of Practical Theology.

 

Cost

Monthly:   $1,600

Annually:  $19,200

 

Rent and Heating of TAT Rooms

(designation “TAT Facility")

 

Purpose

To cover expenses of renting, heating and electricity costs of TAT rooms, 1313 sq. ft.

 

Cost

Monthly:   $1,500

Annually:  $18,000

 

Pastor Bob Nordvall

TAT representative in U.S.

National Field Coordinator of

East European Missions Network

 

cell: +1 701-391-0182

Skype: pastorbobnordvall

email: pastorbob(at)eemn.org

Pastor Siimon Haamer

Dean of Tartu Academy of Theology

 

 

cell: +372 515-9127

Skype: siimon7

email: siimon.haamer(at)teoloogia.ee