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Odessa Seminary in Ukraine hosts graduation

June 19, 2018 One Comment

  • Dr. Torgerson as Rektor in Odessa, with Pastor Shewtshenko as interpreter

The Odessa Seminary in Ukraine hosted its graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 9th where four students received their theological diplomas after completing a three-year course together. Dr. James Gimbel of Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton and Dr. Wilhelm Torgerson of Concordia Lutheran Seminary in St. Catharines attended the ceremony on behalf of LCC. Dr. Torgerson was appointed by the CLS Board of Regents in 2015 to serve as Rektor of the Seminary in the Ukraine for this cohort of students.

The graduation started with a morning service for the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Ukraine (SELCU) at the seminary, with attendance from around the church. Dr. Gimbel preached in the morning and brought greetings from LCC President Timothy Teuscher. Dr. Torgerson presided over the graduation ceremony in the afternoon and was assisted by Pastor Oleg Shewtshenko, who acted as an interpreter.

At the end of the ceremony, Bishop Alexander Yurchenko of SELCU expressed his and SELCU’s appreciation for Rektor Torgerson’s service, and asked him to continue with the supervision of those sent out on vicarage. Bishop Yurchenko also expressed his sincere gratitude for all the support received from LCC, and asked for their continued kindness and assistance in the future.

Two of the graduating students were assigned to be vicars with Yurij Timerkan assigned to Dnipropetrowsk, and Dimitrij Krawchuk assigned to Nova Kahowka. One student is currently consulting with his family before accepting his vicarage. Another student, who began his studies later, requires the completion of additional courses before being posted. One more person was not considered to be ready to serve at this time. Courses at the seminary were taught by representatives from around LCC, from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and from the Mission Diocese in Finland.

Lutheran Church-Canada’s (LCC) history with the SELCU goes back to 1998 when, at a meeting of the leaders of LCC and the incipient Lutheran Church in Ukraine in the summer of 1987, LCC leaders asked the Ukrainian brothers present, “What can we do to help you?” Bishop Viktor Graefenstein responded, “Please, provide theological training for our pastors.” Following the meeting, LCC’s mission director Rev. Leonard Harms recruited Rev. Norman Threinen in January, 1998 to organize the program in Ukraine. The Seminary was then established in the village of Kamenka, 50 miles outside of Odessa.

The Odessa Seminary’s program was patterned after the curriculum at Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton and provided courses during the spring, summer and fall months over a three-year period. Classes were taught by Dr. Threinen, faculty of the seminary, and pastors of Lutheran Church-Canada. Dr. Threinen served as Rektor until 2014, and the curriculum was gradually adapted to allow classes to be taught during a normal, Canadian academic year. Two classes of students have graduated using this model. In the meantime, SELCU has been developing and building a more adequate seminary building, including dormitory space. Dr. Threinen was installed as rector and the curriculum has been adjusted to allow for classes to be taught throughout the normal academic year.

One Comment »

  • Marlene Schmidt said:

    Congratulations to the graduating class of 2018. God bless you all as you move on to spread the Word of God to the churched and unchurched in the area to which you are assigned.
    Congratulations also to the students going on vicarage. May the Lord bless your work as you learn to spread the Word and deal with people in varying situations.
    May the Lord bless and preserve His Word in Ukraine.

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