The Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary has adopted a development plan for the next three years based on the main principles and goals of the first development plan in 2010. We are convinced that basic goals and trends do not change too quickly in the education area; however, the ways to reach one’s goals and setting priorities for a given period may change. We say in this document that the Theological Seminary sets as our goal to train theologically well prepared Christians to serve the church and community. In order to reach this goal we emphasize the need to strengthen practical co-operation between the Seminary and the Church, to guarantee the academic quality of studies and to put into practice the principles of serving the Church and the community.
The development plan is an important document for the Seminary because it defines the directions for moving forward, and the principles which need to be considered. The Seminary does not exist apart from the Church as an independent institution. It is not the internal business of the Seminary what it will be like in ten or twenty years. The development plan for 2016-2019 says that the mission of the Seminary is to provide Christians with a balanced theological education in order to assist them in applying their talents and knowledge in their congregations, and to find adequate solutions for the needs of today’s Church. Therefore the development plan includes references for the whole Church, since the Seminary has a distinct role in shaping the Methodist Church, church life in Estonia as a whole, and also the society. In order to implement the above mentioned objectives the Seminary wants to be a pro-active, contemporary and flexible organization in order to inspire the students as well as their churches.
We are living at a time when the co-operation – both within the given Church and also interdenominationally – is unavoidable. One strong point of the Seminary is its practical ecumenism as people from different denominations are studying and teaching together. Building our future on the co-operation between different higher institutions is our unavoidable means of development also. We have a creative and unprejudiced attitude towards the idea of co-operation with the other theological institutions of higher education. We are also cultivating relationships with theological seminaries in Europe and the USA, and wish to have successful co-operation with other institutions of higher education in Estonia and Europe.
This development plan contains detailed implementation plan which will be revised and updated annually. This document is not conclusive, it shows the trends and development of the Seminary. The exact application plans determine our daily activities.
I wish that our Theological Seminary would be a reliable partner which supports and has an impact on the development of the United Methodist Church in Estonia. I wish that the Theological Seminary could continuously have creative openness to co-operation with other churches in Estonia. I wish that the Theological Seminary would have its distinct role in the family of other theological higher institutions. I hope that striving together for the common goals will enable us, with God’s help, to reach the objectives we set in the development plan.
Meeli Tankler, Rector
2. General information
2.1. Location, address and registration code
The Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary (henceforth: the Seminary) is situated in a building belonging to the United Methodist Church in Estonia, its address is 51 Narva Road, 10152 Tallinn.
Registration code: 80196661.
Licence number: 351-KHM
2.2. Short History
The year 1994 is very special in the history of the United Methodist Church in Estonia. A long-awaited dream became true – a higher institution was founded, with the primary task of training pastors and leaders for different ministries in the Methodist Church.
Asbury Theological Seminary in the USA became, to a certain extent, an example for us. The United Methodist Church in the USA sent Wes Griffin and his wife Joy to Estonia to help us found the Seminary. The Griffins adjusted to life in Estonia surprisingly fast and their contribution to the Seminary is remarkable. In the spring of 1994 Andrus Norak, a former pastor of the Tartu Methodist Church graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with a Master’s degree. He became the first Rector of the Seminary. From 2007 till 2009 the Academic Dean Lii Lilleoja worked as the Interim Rector. Meeli Tankler started working as the Rector in 2009.
In the summer of 1994 the constitution and the curriculum was put together and the faculty and staff were hired. The nominal time of studies was four years, but already from the beginning a one year program of Basic Christian studies was offered. In August 1994 the opening seminar took place at the Christian camp at Aa. Regular studies began in the fall in the church centre in Apteegi Street. Despite the cramped conditions the faculty and students were able to cope with the hope that some day we will be able to move into a new building. In January 1999 this dream came true – the Seminary moved to a spacious building on Narva Road, where the conditions for studying were wonderful.
The first class of students was special and will remain distinctive in the history of the Seminary. Numerous men and women had come to study who had been faithful Christian workers for many years in the Methodist Church. Despite the great age differences they all became diligent students who excelled in their studies and stood out for their deep interests and broad horizons. The fact that some students were pastoring several churches and raising children at the same time did not hinder their studies. Some of the teachers were half the age of their students and they could learn a lot from those they were teaching.
In the spring of 1998 the Seminary received state accreditation as a private institution of applied higher education. We are the youngest amidst the four higher educational institutions providing theological education in Estonia. In 2000 we started with a Distant Study Program, which is now focused on students outside Estonia. From 2006 the Seminary offers a study program that allows to study while working full-time, and the intensive study sessions are on four days a month, eleven months a year. In addition to Methodists the number of Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal and other students is growing.
A special feature of our Seminary is the fact that almost half of the students are studying in Russian, and several also in English. The opportunity to study Theology in Russian – the only opportunity in Estonia – has been used by students from Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia, and Estonia. Students from Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Romania and Brazil have used the opportunity to study in English. All lectures are simultaneously translated according to the language needs. Estonian language is taught to students who are interested, and there are lots of opportunities to practice Estonian at school.
Majority of seminary faculty have a long term teaching experience, and are specialists in their Field. Each semester there are a couple of quest lecturers from different theological schools from Estoni and abroad. Besides the theological disciplines we offer courses in different languages and a variety of electives – from Psychology of Religion to Hymnology.
Up to now 208 students (18 graduate classes) have graduated. Our graduates are working as pastors, youth workers, teachers of Religious Education, military chaplains, prison chaplains, and on several other positions. Seminary graduates Anne Saluraid, Tatjana Semjonova, Rein Laaneser, Külli Tõniste and Taavi Hollman are teaching different disciplines at the Seminary.
We believe that a special characteristic feature of the Seminary is its Pentecost-like study atmosphere where students from different nations and denominations being together in the same classroom hear and experience the theological knowledge „in their own native language“ (Acts 2:12). We believe also that our strength lies in the great proportion of Biblical Studies and the in the good connection between theoretical studies and practice, especially in the area of missioon.
3. Present Situation
3.1. Student Body
At present the number of students at the Seminary is 64. As well as coming from Estonia, our students also come from Ukraine (14), Russia (1), and Latvia (1). According to denominations there are 19 Methodist students, 11 Pentecostals, 2 Baptists, 1 Lutheran, 3 Orthodox, 6 free church members and 21 are from various non-denominational churches. The dominant age group is younger than 30 (33%).
3.2.1. Seminary is headed by the Board of Trustees and the Rector.
3.2.2. The Board of Trustees is the highest governing body of the Seminary. The members of the Board of Trustees are elected by the Church Board of the UMC in Estonia and presented to the Annual Conference of the UMC in Estonia for approval. The meetings of the Board of Trustees are held at least once per year.
3.2.3. The members of the Board with a right to vote are: the Bishop of the UMC Central Conference of the Northern Europe and the Baltic countries, the Superintendent of the UMC in Estonia, a Russian representative of the UMC in Estonia, a representative of the World Methodist Evangelism/World Methodist Council, and other members elected by the owner. At least 1/5 of the members should be representatives of faculty, and at least 1/5 representatives of students. BOT may invite to its meetings consultants with voice but without vote.
3.2.3. The Board of Trustees draws up a long term plan of development for the Seminary and presents it to the owner; annually approves the budget drawn up by the Rector’s Cabinet; determines the range of stipends; institutes special scholarships from the resources of the Seminary; devises the creation of paid positions and salaries of positions, presents them to the UMC in Estonia; selects the candidate for the position of Rector, presenting him or her to the Annual Conference of the UMC in Estonia for approval; approves the heads of structural units; presents proposals to the owner about changes or additions to the Seminary Constitution.
3.2.4. The Rector of the Seminary is elected for three years among the persons with a graduate degree. The Rector is elected and dismissed on the proposal of the Board of Trustees and approved by the Annual Conference of the UMC in Estonia.
3.2.5. The Rector heads the Seminary as the highest official, delegating certain authority to the Academic Dean and to the Administrative Director following the directives of the UMC in Estonia and the Board of Trustees. He or she represents the Seminary and acts on the Seminary’s behalf without special commission; makes contracts and together with the Administrative Director opens Seminary bank accounts; is responsible for the general state and development of the Seminary, the purposeful and expedient use of the financial resources; matriculates and dismisses students.
3.2.6. The Rector’s Cabinet is the executive body of the Board of Trustees. The Rector, the Academic Dean, the bookkeeper and the Superintendent of UMC in Estonia belong to the Rector’s Cabinet.
3.2.7. The Rector’s Cabinet draws up the project for budget, presenting it to the Board of Trustees for approval; determines the conditions and order of payment of the allowances and stipends; appoints the Seminary’s registrar; confirms the positions of permanent faculty and establishes their qualifications, job descriptions and rules of their certification. The meetings of the Rector’s Cabinet are held according to need, but not less than once a month.
The Seminary employs 4 permanent faculty members and 4 part-time lecturers with at least 0.3 workload. Guest lecturers from other Estonian and foreign higher educational institutions are used as well as practitioners from specific fields of study. Majority of faculty members have a graduate degree. Faculty members are participating regularly in continuing education programs.
3.4. Teaching Regulations
3.4.1. The basis of organization of studies is providing intensive study sessions.
3.4.2. The process of study takes place in the forms of contact-based study, independent work, practical work and e-learning.
The proportions of study forms are established in the syllabus. Contact-based study takes place in the format of a lecture, a seminar or another form as proscribed in the syllabus. Practical work is a purposeful activity for achieving learning outcomes in a practicum or other form, taking place under the guidance of a supervisor in work environment. Independent work is obtaining necessary knowledge and skills for achieving learning outcomes independently under the supervision of a faculty member, it can also take place in the interactive e-learning.
3.4.3. Classes are divided into compulsory and elective disciplines.
3.4.4. Learning outcomes are assessed in the exam, in pass/fail evaluations, in the defense of the final thesis and the grades are registered in the examination report. The format of grading is fixed in each syllabus.
3.4.5. Consideration of prior studies and work experience is assessed on an individual basis (VÕTA) .
The Seminary’s main sources of finance come from tuition fees, budgeted funds from the UMC in Estonia and internationally, project-based grants through UMC Central Conferences Theological Education Fund, donations from UMC congregations, private donations and project-based grants. The budget project is put together by Rector’s Cabinet, approved by BOT and confirmed by the Annual Conference of the UMC in Estonia.
3.6. Structural Units
The Seminary’s library is located on 142 square meters and includes 21109 items. The library adds new books to its collection in consultation with faculty members.
The library uses search systems Estonian Libraries Network Consortium (ELNET Consortium) and ESTER.
Seminary students have access to the computer class with 8 computers. The IT-specialist services all together 14 computers (additionally in the teachers’ room, library and administration offices). He is also responsible for Seminary’s homepage and the e-learning system Moodle.
As the seminary operates in three study languages – Estonian, Russian and English (with simultaneous translation) a special emphasis is on the perfect function of the translation equipment. This is a responsibility of the sound technician.
4. Mission Statement
The mission of the Theological Seminary is to offer higher theological education that meets the needs of the church and society and supports the spiritual formation of students in the study process. The seminary strives to equip Christian leaders and workers for churches, Christian organizations and charities.
5. Strategic Objectives
5.1. The Seminary stands for internationally acknowledged level of all fields of studies.
5.2. The Seminary is an educational institution with a distinct identity, its operation based on the Seminary’s code of ethics.
5.3. The Seminary works in close co-operation with Asbury Theological Seminary (USA), The Institute of Theology of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Tartu Theological School of the Baptist Union.
5.4. The Seminary has strong partnership with the UMC in Estonia and the Pentecostal Chruch in Estonia, promotes its activities within the Methodist Church, in other member churches of the Estonian Council of Churches and in the whole of society.
5.5. The Seminary has modern infrastructure, is a flexible and well-operating organization.
6. Development Areas and Activities
7. Implementation of the Development Plan and the Order of Its Improvement
The development plan is a strategic document of the Seminary and the implementation plan of the next fiscal year and the three following years will be drawn according to it. This implementation plan will be updated annually. The implementation plan is a description of strategic objectives, evaluative indicators, and activities necessary for achieving set targets. The implementation plan is the foundation for planning the Seminary’s budget.
The Rector of the Seminary bears responsibility for the fulfillment of the plan of development. The Academic Committee and the Board of Trustees assess the plan of implementation of the development plan, and the fulfillment of the development plan’s objectives in an annual report.
8. Implementation Plan
The academic council of the Seminary adopted on June 10, 2016 the development plan of the BMTS for 2016-2019. An implementation plan for 2010-2013 was drawn on the basis of the development plan. The implementation plan sets the development activities for the Seminary necessary for fulfilling the strategic development plan.
Meeli Tankler, the Rector of the Seminary co-ordinates the process of the compilation and execution of the plan.
The implementation plan was drawn up by the following work team: Meeli Tankler, Mark Nelson, Rein Laaneser, Anne Saluraid, Üllas Tankler, Külli Tõniste, Taavi Hollman, Maiu Mäevere.
The process of drawing up the initial plan of strategic development and the first stage of its implementation (2010-2013) was led by the consultant Jana Tamm (Baltic Corporate Training OÜ).
The Purpose of the Implementation plan
The implementation plan is the main document for planning the development activities of the Seminary. The planned activities for the coming years are the basis for scheduling different fields of activities where sufficient resources (people, money, etc) need to be guaranteed by making necessary decisions at the Seminary level as welll as at the level of its structural units (budgeting, creating positions etc).
The implementation plan gives an input to the Seminary budget in the sense that all anticipated expenses are planned into the next year’s budget and taken into account in the planning of next budgets. While the implementation plan does not determine additional funding for activities, it is the guideline for the budgeted expenses: it means that the activities of the implementation plan need to be covered within the limits of the regular expenditure.
Structure of the Implementation plan
The implementation plan is drawn up according to the division of the Seminary’s development plan in the following chapters: student body (6.1), faculty and staff (6.2), alumni (6.3.), studies and Christian spiritual formation (6.4.), research and development (6.5), co ntinuous study (6.6), leadership and communication (6.7.), study and work environment (6.8.), partnership in Estonia (6.9), international relations (6.10), and economic and financial activity (6.11).
The implementation plan is drafted in a chart form. At the beginning of each chapter are the objectives (underlined), they are followed by fields of activity described in the development plan. Under each field of activity one or several activities of the implementation plan are given.
In the table the starting time, the deadline and the people responsible for the activity are listed. Comments are added in order to explain the necessity and content of the activity.
The activities for the year 2016 are planned more precisely and activities for 2017-2018 more generally taking into consideration the possibility of making amendments and changes.