Friends of Estonia Meeting in Kingsport, TN

Friday May 6, 2016

Theme this year was “Intentional” so Rachel Davis’ devotional got us started along that line.

Intentional explains everything we try to do.  A lot happened in the book of Acts from Jesus death and resurrection to Pentecost and the Holy Spirit.

Devoted to.… they were intentional.

Think of Olav Parnemets.  They had birthday parties so children could learn about Jesus.  Eddie Fox connected with Olav.

People in this room representing the Seminary, Camp Gideon, etc.  Our God is intentional.

In Acts, not necessarily the church, but God.  Same with Olav, Eddie, BMC, Camp Gideon, etc.

Look further back at creation.  Sin entered but God still had a plan.

In all our stories we are together for the Kingdom of God.  We must intentionally remain focused on God.  Heb. 12:1-3.  As the speakers talk, what is God stirring in our heart to do.


Bishop Alsted via video

Noted we would be hearing reports on the Year For God program which is impacting lives.

The start of an international ministry.

School of Congregational Development where there were 320 pastors and leaders.  They spent 4 days in training, fellowship and worship.

Taavi is an excellent leader.

Continue to pray and connect to congregations.

Pray for General Conference, for wisdom, discernment, strength and courage.


Taavi Hollman – District Superintendent

He gave greetings from friends in Estonia.

He gave some statistics on the country and then shared about the churches.

Jan. 2014 there were 1,592 members and in 2016 there are 1,679 members.

Annual Conference was held in June in Parnu.  3 elders were ordained and 1 local pastor was commissioned.

Pastor change in Kuressaarre, Saaremaa.  They have opened the church on Friday evenings to welcome people, giving them an option to bars.  They sing, eat, pray and worship.  They invite in the drunks.

The Council Meeting of Estonian Churches was held in Camp Gideon.

The Baltic-Nordic School of Congregational Development is held every 4 years.  Tallinn worked well.  The Bishop wants to have the Central Conference there in 2020.

Reekula UMC is 105 years old.  Aseri UMC is 20 years old.

There is an increase in social involvement.  Several churches and individuals have been awarded by local governments for their efforts – Reekula, Tanel, Artur and Voru.

They had a round table discussion with other religions.

Prayer partnering and Wesley Groups.  Pastors in need of accountability group and prayer.

Upper Room prints 1300 issues.  Tarmo Lilleoja is the new editor.  US support is decreasing.  A lot of non-Methodist’s order.

The churches are helping each other financially and in ministry.

Pastor Ele at Rapina has cancer.  Pray for her healing.

The Bible School development is a grass roots effort out of Viitka UMC and Rapina UMC and because of Pastor Ele Paju and a Brazilian missionary, Livia Telles.

Year for God.  Young people learn ministry more in depth.

They had regional teaching days at Agape in Parnu, St. Luke in Tartu and at Camp Gideon.

The Baltic States had a 24/7 prayer vigil for the General Conference on May 7.  There were 48 congregations form Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

At Rachel’s request he shared about his family.  His wife Merle is a music teacher half time.  All of their children play musical instruments.  Rachel was in a competition and placed 2nd in Tallinn.  She went to state and won 1st place in her age group.  Hannah is in medical school at Tartu University.  The oldest, Elizabeth, is married and is at Tallinn Tech studying economics and a Master’s in auditing.  Naatan is in 10th grade and loves photography.  David is 7.


Communications report – Marc Lyon

Yesterday at the Executive Board Meeting Marc asked the question “What is FOE?”.  It exists for learning and sharing, a crossroads.

We need to have more people have this experience.  Communication tools are a great way to introduce to others.

Facebook Likes are growing but should be higher.  They are 225 now.  Have people try it.

The highest open rate of 60% is when Mission Teams post news, preparation as well as the actual trip.

Facebook has fans from 46 cities and 15 countries.  Last year 31 email campaigns were sent out which includes the monthly prayer emails.

Others can post pictures and summaries.

The website is kept current.  Working on making it detectable on cell phones and IPads.

10-12 mission teams are going this year.


World Methodist Evangelism – Shirley Dominick

They are setting up a website.  It has taken about a year.  Connecting Congregation information will be there.  They want to expand it and are looking at new ideas.

They are setting up a database and having emails would be very helpful.  They will be using Constant Contact once the website is up and running.  They will have to do some postcards which is expensive until they can get more emails.

Working on Connecting Congregation commitments.

The main office is in Indiana.  A new employee, Elizabeth Glassturner, currently works remotely doing social media but plans to move to Indiana in the near future.

They will work to give information to identify potential connections or past ones to Estonia.

Encourage and invite others from smaller churches to go with established teams.

Estonia is the most connected country they work in and is doing more than just sending money.


Personal Story – Anna Savelle

Anna is from Athens, GA and a student at Asbury Seminary.  She has been to Estonia and her heart is connected to it.  The Lord made Estonia find her.  Artur and Ursula with Sunbeam came to visit their church.  Her heart was warmed and drawn.  She needed to see and serve there.  She went for 3 months last summer after being in Montenegro.

The first thing she experienced was an open air evangelism rock concert.  She found a lot of hospitality and love and a movement of the Holy Spirit.

She worked at Sunbeam, a day center for children with disabilities.  They develop skills.  She helped clean so the women who worked there had a rest.

The first class graduated and they celebrated their lives and progress.  They moved on to another facility to make further progress.

She worked at Camp Gideon.  The word “awakening” came to her.

The baptisms were a special time, seeing everyone in white walk down the hill.

Johvi is growing and Sunbeam is growing.

Camp Gideon welcomes those who need rest and those who need a filling of the Holy Spirit.

A privilege to see how the Lord is moving in other countries.  The connection was planted deep.


Estonian and Brazilian connection – Livia Telles via Skype and Taavet Taimla

Livia has been in Estonia for 5 years.  Her first visit was in 2007.  She met 2 Estonians at a conference.

The best benefit after 10 years is the growth in the youth.  Some come from very difficult backgrounds.  There are new leaders in the church.

The Viitka Bible study came about as 3 years ago they lost their pastor.  Taavi asked her to fill in.  She said she’s not a pastor but she agreed to shepherd the church.  She noticed that many of the people did not bring their Bibles to church.  After a year and a half, she started a Sunday School for the kids.  People were hungry to know God’s Word.  She and Pastor Ele prayed about the need and started a program for youth but people of all ages come.  Now everyone brings their Bible.

She didn’t grow up in church but became a Christian at age 17.  The biggest difference between Brazil and Estonia is that the Estonian laity are not very involved like the Brazilian’s are thus the pastors get worn out.

Taavet – The distinction between Estonians and Brazilians is unique as the Brazilian culture brings in relationship with God defined by the spiritual side.  They think of missions, of people getting saved.  Estonians and Americans focus more on practical work.  Brazilians passion is evident, a desperation for God, a hunger and pursuit.

Estonians are more reserved but they see a yearning being ignited in the Estonian youth.

Livia will be working with the Estonian Youth Board to have a 7-day Bible camp.


Lighthouse – Regina Multram (Lighthouse board member)

Veronika started as Project Director after 1 year without having anyone.

The need for help is rising.

They rent their house from the government.  The Mayor was at the 15-year celebration and noticed how big their building is.  They hope they won’t lose it when their contract is up.

Most of the children are between 7 – 15 years old.  By law they must finish 8th grade.  There are 35 children on the list this year.  The maximum number is 35-40.

All the kids come from social workers.  About 1/2 are Estonian and 1/2 are Russian.  Veronika speaks both languages which is very helpful.  There are 2 teachers, Tiina and Alla and a helper Svetlana.

They get a lot of volunteers by working with the Estonia army service, an alternative service.

40% contract from the Talliinn government goes through this month.  Not sure if it will continue.  The balance is from donations with most of that from outside Estonia.  They are looking for businesses to pay 1 month expenses.  Most of the expense is salaries.

Calvary UMC does a camp each summer and Asbury UMC comes after school is out.  They have the camp at different places each year so the kids see other parts of the country.  A 15-year old kid from Calvary collected shoes for the children.  This was very special.

EQUASS is the quality system for social service providers.  It took 2 years but they received their certificate.  It is good to have this to show the government.

When they surveyed the kids they liked these things about the Lighthouse – Good workers; Homework support; Friends; Camp; Food and Games in this order.


GBGM – Ullas Tankler

Work area is from Portugal to Vladivostak, Russia.

Estonia connection – GBGM supports nationals in mission, Egle Hollman for children’s ministry, Mareta as youth leader, Joel and Lemme Aulis and Mark Nelson as Seminary Academic Dean; missionaries Doug and Kulli with Kulli as Seminary Professor and Doug’s role is to help the Seminary and start an international church in Tallinn.

He is working on a project of additional training for pastor’s as they go from 1 culture to multiple.

Global Mission Fellows is for 20 – 30 year olds who go for 2 years.  They are looking for places for them to go and also the people.  Merlin from Estonia is in Brazil.  Mary from Zimbabwe is in Tallinn.  It is incredible how the young people are growing.


Taavet Taimla

Taavet talked about Athletes in Action.  He is not as active as before.  He is not going to the Olympics in Rio.  The basketball camp last year was significant.  They brought in a foreign coach and did a free camp and presented the gospel.

He told a story of a man from Voru who came to church to find out what Christians are about after reading leadership books by Christian authors such as John Maxwell.

Pray for Taavet and his girlfriend to discern God’s will in their pursuit of ministry.


BMTS – Meeli Tankler

We have heard a lot about the Seminary from different angles which shows the Seminary is a part of the church in Estonia.

The Seminary has several Connecting Congregations and persons.

The new class that started September 2015 had 23 students, which is higher than the normal of 15.  It is a strong class and they are doing well.  Some are a part of the Year for God program.

Many graduates attended the School of Congregational Development.

Some of the students and faculty celebrated Advent by going to a Monastery for a worship service and supper.

Ken Collins from Asbury Seminary comes each year and lectures.  Eurasia Bishop Eduard Khegay taught this past year.

They teach in Estonian, Russian and English, have worship and fellowship events.

Missionaries Doug and Kulli are a real gift.  They provide a new perspective and thoughts on curriculum and strategy discussions.  She is working on other ways to partner with Asbury Seminary than just professors coming to teach.

Cooperation in Estonia – With Salvation Army, with Estonian Christian Pentecostal Church, with other theological schools and with Estonian Evangelical Alliance.  Mark Nelson is a part of the Evangelical Alliance.

International cooperation – with Asbury Theological Seminary, with European Evangelical Accrediting Association (EEAA), with Methodist Related Schools in Europe (MTSE) and with International Association of Methodist Schools and Colleges (IAMSCU).

There have been 202 Seminary graduates since 1998.  There will be 8 more this June.

The Alpha course coordinator, Janek, is a Seminary graduate.  When he came to the Seminary his world was black and white, not so today.  Other graduates have helped as prison Chaplain, Rapina Pastor and Church planters in Lithuania.

They will start the accreditation process next year.  As a state accredited school students can continue their studies at other schools.  They have a difficult time proving they are financially sustainable which makes the accreditation more complicated.  If they could accomplish this, then they would be accredited for 7 years instead of 3.  They want small schools to combine.


Camp Gideon and Johvi – Artur Pold

Plans are in place for this summer with some teams coming for camps and others for construction.

Every Saturday in May and June church people come to help with the cleanup work.  The first camp is the first week of June.

10 people from Johvi were baptized with others.

They have started a new English camp with David Himmelsbach in cooperation with Sunbeam.

Walk to Emmaus and the Church Summer Conference are held each year at the camp.

The Russian Tallinn congregation has a children’s camp which Mt. Bethel helps with and Asbury helps with their youth camp.

They distribute 2nd hand clothing.

Johvi began in May 1971.  Artur has been the Pastor for 23 years.  It is a family church.  The camp ministry unites them more.  30 participate actively.

Some evangelism is done in Johvi.


Sunbeam – Artur Pold

They have up to 10 children, with about 5 every day.

Social Ministry is a partner.

They go on field trips.

Graduation day was last spring.  They planted a tree as a reminder.

Volunteers for the Little Light House in Tulsa, OK come each year.  They give them new ideas for helping the children.

The ministry is growing and is a blessing.

The parents are excited with the Center.

Some staff and families have become Christians.


Helsinki Ministry – Andrei Hinkonen

They have a prayer service and participate with the Evangelical Alliance, coming together in unity.

They have a new rehab project.  They sent more than 50 people to rehab through the soup kitchen.  They use the church for a rehab building.  A multi-denominational organization provides the staff salaries for the soup kitchen.  They bought windows for the building and continue renovating the inside.

The Russian ministry in Helsinki was started 2 and a half years ago.  They cooperate with the Swedish and Finnish Methodist’s churches.  The church has developed well.

They want to start a church in Oslo, Norway.

There are over 150,000 Russian speaking people in Finland, from Russia, Poland and the Baltic States, for jobs.

They have a great team.  Over 80 members now, mostly young people.

2 times a week they have a night of prayer 9 pm to midnight praying for revival.

A few months ago they started a children’s ministry.

Last summer they did a tent festival in the center of town for 10 days with 250 seats.  Over 100 people accepted Jesus and there were a lot of healings and over 40 supernatural miracles.  Most were Finnish speaking people so they were sent to Finnish churches.  They had concerts for the youth.  This year they plan to do the same festival.  Pray for it to be fruitful.

They opened a preaching point in another city.  The vision is to plant many churches for Russian speaking people.

They desire a Connecting Congregation in America.


Personal Story – Radhika Aussieker

Radhika shared her story via video about her family’s experience in Estonia when they went to Agape Church in Parnu to be a part of their V.B.S.  It was quite a process with a 2 ½ year old.  Tonu and Kulli made preparations for her with a baby room.  The church is in a neighborhood and she noticed families walking and some would come in.

They had feedback sessions each day after V.B.S.  Her husband Joe asked if the gospel was shared clearly with the children with a chance to accept Jesus.  They hadn’t but considered it.  The next day they presented it in a manner considerate of their culture.  Each child was given an opportunity to put a white pearl in a bowl if they accepted Jesus or a blue pearl for need of prayer.  18 white pearls and many blue pearls were dropped in the bowl.


Kohtla-Jarve – Carl and Paige Henry

Carl and Paige have a strong connection with Pastor Sergei, Galena and Olga.

In 2006 the church had to move and the team helped them find a building on 1 acre of land.  It was old and rundown.  Through Sergei and Mt. Bethel’s efforts they got it fixed up and were given a 10-year lease with favorable conditions since it was in bad shape.

Last December the owner said he wanted to sell and gave a favorable price of 45,000 Euro with 4 years to pay it off, interest free.  They are the last church that doesn’t own their building.  They found a Foundation grant that will match up to $14,000.  They have $31,000 with about $18,000 remaining.

The offering at our worship service tonight will go towards the purchase of the Kohtla-Jarve church building.



FOE 2017 Announcement

Next year’s meeting will be in Estonia.  The core dates are June 10-18.  Churches can go to the Connecting Congregations the first weekend since their Annual Conference is the 16th – 18th.  This would be a good opportunity to invite people for a relationship trip.

FOE meeting would be Wednesday June 14.  It would look different.

Possible bus tours might be set up for some of the other days.

June 15 is the Seminary Board meeting.  June 16 is the Seminary graduation.

The Connecting Congregation dinner date will be determined later.

Next year is a Jubilee Year with 110 years of Methodism in Estonia.

This is a good opportunity for other churches and young people.

Media packets will be made up for churches to use.


Worship Service

Prayers, scriptures, singing and the offering before the message by Rev. Randall Dilts on One Heart, One Family

He recently heard advice cautioning Pastors about breaking out parts of a story and Luke 15 was mentioned.  We often break out the prodigal son and the lost sheep.  They are meant to told as one story.  Is 1 lost sheep anything to worry about?  Yes, the shepherd searched and had joy when it was found.  100% is the model of completion.  The lost sheep was Precious.

Had 10 coins but lost 1 coin.  90% is not bad.  It’ll show up sooner or later.  No, she looked and cleaned until she found it.  She was joyful.  Lost coin was Valuable.

The prodigal son.  The odds go up.  Lost son represents half.  The father still has the older son to carry on the family name but the father kept watch.  He saw him from a long way off.  There was joy and celebration, not judgment, anger and bitterness.  The family is complete again.  This was Unique.

Some say enough to do here.  Stats show no county with believer’s growth.

Estonia is the land to pour ourselves into, to stand beside them, not ahead or behind.

The church is Precious, Valuable and Unique.  Rejoice!

From this 1 parable we are to see what’s precious in the lost, valuable in the lost and unique in the lost.

Jesus doesn’t plan for loss and say “it’s okay”.  Angels rejoice over 1 person.

There are things to do.  Commitments to be made.  Right to find brothers and sisters and complete the family.

99 out 100 is not good enough.  Nor 9 out of 10.  Nor 1 out of 2.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

The offering from last night came to $7,714.50 with $1,000 designated for The Lighthouse and the remaining $6,714.50 for the Kohtla-Jarve church building.  Donated wooden crosses were sold for a total of $308 and a painting done by Jean Lyon was auctioned off for $100.  These funds also went to Kohtla-Jarve.


Devotional – Meeli Tankler

She continued with the theme of intentional.

Gal. 5:1 says for freedom Christ has set us free.  There are 2 types of freedom.  Isaac Burling had positive freedom, he was liberated from something, the first step.  Real freedom is when we are free for something.

She picked up from the speakers yesterday freedom for something.  This took a long time for Estonian churches to figure out.  There were a lot of limitations during Soviet times.  Some are doing better than others at learning to be free for ministry.  She had us concentrate on a song, “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus”.  This song came from India by a man who converted and was martyred for this faith.  Years later a missionary put the words to a song.  The 2nd verse, “the world behind me” and “cross before me” don’t mean we don’t care about the world but that we focus on the cross first then we can care for the world.


Generation 2 – Robert Tserenkov via video

Mission Statement – To bring people to Christ, equip them for Christian life and encourage them in ministry.

They have youth services; Saturday MID Club with 20 -30 kids where they have Bible lessons and fun.

Small groups during the week.  They have 4 now but would like 3 more.

City camps during the fall and spring breaks for Jr. Hi.

170 youth attended camp last summer.  The children’s camp was a week later.

Year for God where High School grads serve 1 year and get their first year of Seminary training.  They serve alongside Pastors.

International Ministry – New generation, pray for schools and do small acts of kindness by giving small gifts with a Christian message.

Good News Clubs – Meet outside the church.  Most are non-Christian.


Agape in Parnu – Ullas Tankler

He showed a PowerPoint presentation showing the activities of the church – worship, music, work on church, study and discussion, children’s ministry, V.B.S., baptisms and confirmations, community dance festival and connection with Asbury.

They have a prayer partnership with Tapa.  Another connection is with a church in the UK where there is nothing financial, they just visit each other about once a year.


Divided into small groups for a time of prayer for Connecting Congregations or any other topic of choice. 


Voru – Kaupo Kant

They want to grow to become a House of Prayer.  It is happening step-by-step.  They need the Lord’s strength to be His witness.

Last year they started healing rooms and other churches participate.  They are seeing changes in people’s lives.

Youth are coming to Jesus.  Can move on to teach.  They’ve not had a youth leader but a team.  They have a class Discipleship 101 which encourages the leaders.

They had a Confirmation Class of 10 people.  3 desire baptism.

They have added 12 members who need shepherding which keeps them busy.

Every Wednesday night they have a prayer and fellowship meeting.

They want to move out and do things in the community.  They sell used items donated by Norway.  Great chance to share and play Christian music.  Some have joined the church.  Thousands of people have never come to a church.

They have a project where they are cleaning up a space beside the church to be a park for children.  The city government and the local community are excited and will help.

Social ministry is growing.  Voru Foodbank recognized by the city government.  They get food from companies and give to the needy.  The need is quite great.  This is another outreach.

Thea leads the Aldersgate Renewal ministry.  They visit churches and have retreats encouraging the participants with prayer, etc.  This is spreading outside of Estonia to England and Lithuania.  This ministry is 5 years old.

As the church is developing it has many needs.  One is that their van is getting very old.  The church building documentation needs to be completed this year.  There were issues with the builder going bankrupt.  They need new sound equipment.

They are thankful to God for prayer contacts, encouragement and love.  We have the same Lord and serve together.

They have made trips to Finland and have great contact with former refugees.  A Muslim convert is helping Afghan refugees in Finland.  Exciting things are happening in neighboring countries.

Pray for new group of refugees to Estonia.  Vision is to give welcome gifts to them.

Family – Thea is fine and very busy mainly with church administration, planning fundraisers and welcoming new people in the community.  Joosep graduated the 9th grade and will go to local High School.  Joel plays the guitar and goes with him on mission trips and participates in prayer.  Johannes will be in the first grade in September.


Estonia Youth Ministry – Rachel Davis read the following note from Mark Nelson

Almost every bed in the camp was filled with teenagers and I can say that it was the most impressive camp I have ever been to. The day was filled with Bible studies, worship time and workshops on different topics related to spiritual issues. Of course they had about 2 hours of games in the afternoon and a couple hours of fun after the evening service, but the majority of the schedule was dedicated to helping the youth to grow spiritually. 

And the best news is that they were really hungry to receive that spiritual teaching. I will be writing to our Estonian pastors about this to encourage them not to underestimate how hungry the youth are to really dig into the Bible and grow in their faith.

I think the biggest difference between this camp and the camps in Canada where I worked for years (a millennium ago) is that the situation is so different. In the Canadian camps, the majority of kids came from strong families and strong congregations with strong ministries to kids and youth. In Estonia it is the opposite. A huge number of kids come from dysfunctional families. Most congregations here are tiny and struggle to maintain effective ministries for kids or youth. As a result, the youth camps, which are held three times per year, have to give the kids the spiritual vitamins that many are not getting throughout the year. I was so impressed with the team of young people who ran the camp (the leader is only 23). They really see what is needed and what matters. It really gave me hope for the future, if we have young people like that!


Feedback time for suggestions and ideas for FOE meeting


Nominating Committee for Executive Board – Current Board of Jim and Rachel Davis as co-chairs, Taavi Holman, Harry Turner, J.D. Landis, Peter VanEyes, David Himmelsbach, Scott Layer, Julie Bailey, Jack Harnish, Paige Henry, Eddie Fox, Marc Lyon and Carolyn Yoder approved. 


Adjourned to the chapel for Communion service.