Home » Feature Stories, Headline, International News, Mission News

Ukraine Seminary suffers fire

February 11, 2016 No Comment
Students investigate the source of a fire at Concordia Seminary in Odessa, Ukraine. Sunlight pours in the windows, illuminating the smoke in the air and the water on the floor.

Students investigate the source of a fire at Concordia Seminary in Odessa, Ukraine. Sunlight pours in the windows, illuminating the smoke in the air and the water on the floor.

UKRAINE – On February 9, 2016 Concordia Seminary in Odessa, Ukraine was damaged after a fire broke out in the basement. The seminary is an institute of the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches of Ukraine (SELCU).

Rev. Dr. Steve Chambers of Concordia Lutheran Seminary (Edmonton) was at the seminary teaching a class at the time. He reports that the power had gone out around 3:00 p.m. but that classes had been continuing in the meantime (power outages in Ukraine are not uncommon). Around 3:45, one of the students went to check on the furnace and came back calling for help.

“Some materials outside the furnace but nearby caught fire,” Dr. Chambers explained, “and the whole basement was filled with smoke. For some reason, there are no fire extinguishers in the building! So we carried big bottles of drinking water to the two guys who went right into the worst of it, and they eventually succeeded in putting out the fire. Thank God for their courage and know-how!”

Their fire-fighting efforts were helped by leaking water, as a number of plastic water-pipes melted during the fire, as did an expansion tank, resulting in ankle-deep water. Further investigation suggested that it was electrical equipment related to the hot-water boiler that had initially caught fire, not the furnace itself.

By that evening, two of the students were already at work attempting to restore water service to the building. But the water-boiler system, which is used to heat the building, is expected to take much longer to repair or replace. In the meantime, classes will continue thanks to the use of four large electric heaters.

“These guys are very good at improvising solutions to all sorts of problems and we are all doing just fine,” Dr. Chambers writes. “It was good for us all to pray together at supper and talk about our thanks that this didn’t happen during the night, on the weekend, or at any other time when either we or the building would have been more vulnerable. Thank God for his protecting hand of grace!”

“This could have been an absolute disaster,” he continued. “I’m thankful that the Lord spared us from physical harm, and the building from more serious damage. Maybe you can join me in this prayer of thanks, too.”

The Odessa seminary was built through the mission support of Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC). LCC continues to oversee the theological education program for the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Ukraine’s seminary, providing professors and other support. “We are grateful to God for sparing the seminary building and keeping everyone from harm,” said Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, LCC’s Executive for Missions and Social Ministry. “And we pray that, through the prayer and financial support of LCC members, the seminary will be able to recover quickly from this accident.”

For more information on LCC’s ministry in Ukraine and how you can support it, contact LCC’s Missions and Social Ministry executive Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel at missions@lutheranchurch.ca or by calling 1-800-588-4226 (ext. 2215). You can support LCC’s Missions and Social Ministry services through online giving at www.lutheranchurch.ca, or by sending donations by mail to LCC’s office in Winnipeg:

Lutheran Church–Canada
3074 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, MB  R3K 0Y2