FOE Meeting April 17-18, 2015
Friday April 17
Opening prayer – Jim Davis
Mt. Bethel welcome – Pastor Carey Akin
Jim Davis introduced the Estonians – Taavi Hollman, Sergei Sutshkov, Artur Pold, Erkki Pold, Meeli Tankler, Maria Rikkijeva and Taavet Taimla.
Devotional – Jim Davis
He gave a history of his interest in Estonia and the connections he’s had over the years. Missions is throughout the whole Bible. From the Perspectives class, “The Living God is a Mission God”. (1) God’s call to Abram. We have the same calling today, blessed to bless others. (2) The exodus. God redeemed His people but the Egyptians also knew Him. (3) The temple was missional. (4) The prophets. God redeeming His people so other nations would know Him. (5) Jesus talk of all nations coming to Him. This sets the stage for why we are here.
Bishop Alsted video greeting
- The transition following Olav’s retirement is going well. Pastor leadership team of Joel Aulis and Toomas Pajusoo is doing well.
- The Russian speaking church is strengthened. Young leaders are serving in local churches.
- Johvi Church is thriving. They are praying where to be led.
- Helsinki Church is growing. The goal is to have a Russian speaking church in all Finnish cities.
- School of Congregational Development was held Sept. 24-27 at the BMC. 300-400 people attended. Focus was training leaders for the future and planting new churches. There were 9 different languages.
Jim Davis led a prayer for Bishop Alsted.
Taavi Hollman – District Superintendent
- Estonians living in Chicago renovated the first and only Estonian Church building in the USA. Estonians in the USA gathered a little more than $2000 to renovate the old church built in 1907. This is the Liberty Monument for all those who lost their lives under communistic yoke during the WWII. Hopefully, the renovated church building becomes a “window into Estonian Culture”. They want it to be a place for different denominations to worship.
- The whole political situation has changed over the last year. Moscow interprets things differently than the rest of the world, i.e. EU sanctions against Russia are an attempt to punish Crimea people because they chose to be re-united with Russia. A Lithuanian fishing ship was captured in Russia. The Captain needed to pay several millions rubles because of fishing in Russian waters. Russia says “poor Estonians, they are a victim of the west”.
- After five years of increase the natural growth of Estonian inhabitants started to decline again. The economic decline is in part due to the sanctions on Russia impacting businesses since they won’t buy fish, cheese, etc. from Estonia.
- The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) declares the increasing danger for the civil aviation on the Baltic Sea air space as military planes are not signaling .
- President Barack Obama visited Estonia on September 3. His address was well-received. A day and a half after Obama had left Estonia an Estonian Internal Security Service (KAPO) Policeman was arrested in Estonian Territory just near the border to Russia by The Federal Security Service of the Russia. He was brought against his will to Moscow and was imprisoned there. No efforts so far have been successful for releasing him.
- Past five years about 200,000 people have moved out from Estonia. More than 650 families are divided with some children left alone as both parents work outside. 8,570 families have 1 parent working abroad.
- Oct. 27 was the first school shooting in Estonia. A 15 year-old shot his German teacher.
- Estonian Parliament Elections took place on March 1. The new Parliament started their work just recently. Same political direction as past years. In January Parliament supported the right for youth under 18 to decide by themselves for the abortion. Gay marriage was also supported.
- Extremely good summer. Quite warm winter. No icy roads. On January 14 was the biggest car accident with a total 13 cars and trucks.
- The key word for the church last year was lay leadership. Given approval to develop this will free Taavi from having to do everything. Urmas Sassian agreed to accept the responsibilities to be the Chair for the Annual Conference Board and also of Tallinn UMC. He’s very dependable and many churches have benefited from his ideas on the budget, supporting smaller churches and the Lighthouse. He brought the Annual Conference to a new level as he taught the lay people. Letters of information now go to the lay leaders as well as the Pastors so they are more involved.
- Olav Pärnamets received the Ecumenical Reward of the Estonian Christian Churches for strengthening ecumenical relations during the past 25 years. He is now retired but still preaches some and Urve is passing on her duties to others.
- The Prime Minister of Estonia and the Minister of Interior gave a Decoration of Honor to Pastor Artur Põld for his active ministry in the local community.
- Before the end of the year Võru UMC had to pay the rest of the bills for the completed work for the new building which totaled 7,700 Euro. Taavi challenged all the local congregations to contribute and by December 30th the needed amount was collected.
- Local Contributions to the Annual Conference fund have increased from 18,000 Euro in 2007 to 29,000 Euro last year, a 1.6 times increase.
- He doesn’t talk with Pastors about politics to maintain unity.
- There are a total of 25 churches with 8 Russian speaking, 3 Bilingual and 14 Estonian speaking.
- They are working to revitilize churches so they can start new churches. There is no average church building or Pastor.
- Vitka is growing. Pastor Kaupo goes once a month for Communion.
- He showed pictures of the Children’s Ministry. Of the 206,130 children in Estonia they reach about 500 directly and 1,000 indirectly. Egle, Taavi’s sister, leads this ministry. They have a special program during the Summer Conference. They sang in the Town Hall and Joel Aulis preached.
Rachel Davis led a prayer for Taavi.
Marc Lyons – Communications
- All emails are now sent through MailChimp.
- Reviewed mission team leaders he has. Teams should post pictures on the FOE Facebook directly instead of sending to him. He can copy on to the website. If you have problems you can post on your personal page.
- Facebook Likes are up 13%. We have 186 now and he would like this to be at 300. Invite your friends to Like FOE. Wants every VIM team member on Facebook and Mailchimp. 10 countries are represented. Nashville is the largest city. 31% are 45 years or older and 10% less than 35 years old. The open rate is 48%.
Scott Layer led a prayer for Marc Lyons and Carolyn Yoder who backs him up.
Eddie Fox – World Methodist Evangelism
- Kim Reisman is the new Executive Director. She sends her greetings. She planned to be here but had to attend a meeting elsewhere.
- Commitment to Connecting Congregations and the Seminary are intact.
- The office will be in LaFayette, IN.
- Her email is email@example.com.
- Money can still be wired through WME. 100% goes for the ministry.
- The largest number of Connecting Congregations is in Estonia.
Tammy Teague led a prayer for World Methodist Evangelism.
Jim and Rachel had us learn some common words in Estonian and Russian.
Taavi thanked Mary and Ralph Watson for all their support over the years. He gave them a certificate.
Meeli Tankler – Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary
- She showed some pictures.
- Goal is to bring more students from Latvia and Lithuania. Might do some classes in Riga since its closer and no translation would be needed. It is best to study theology in own language.
- They have the first Pastor from Romania. He will graduate this June. The church there is growing.
- There is ecumenical and cultural fellowship. They all love God.
- Last Sept. 15 new students started.
- There is one black young man who was brought to the country with the promise of playing football. He had been a Methodist in Nigeria. He is connecting with Keila UMC. He is now studying at the Seminary on a student visa.
- They have 2 Udmurt students which is a result of the mission efforts there. Teams go each summer. The Estonian Bible Society is making the New Testament available in their language.
- Helsinki Church has a lay person leading who is studying at the Seminary. He will apply for ordination.
- 12 students will graduate this June.
- They are still connected to the Salvation Army. They’ve taken some classes.
- She thanked everyone for their prayers and financial support.
J.D. Landis led a prayer for Meeli and the BMTS.
Artur Pold – Camp Gideon
- This year is the 20th anniversary of Camp Gideon. He thanked Asbury UMC for buying the Camp and supporting it each year.
- Friends from US did a camp with the children with disabilities from Sunbeam. This year they will have a bigger camp for them, whole country, not just Sunbeam.
- He thanked the Greenough’s for their work at the Camp and money given.
- He showed pictures of a renovated building. It is very nice.
- 1,000 kids came to the camp last year. 2 were baptized.
- They will have an English Camp and Children’s Camp for the non-churched.
- They are looking at building some low income housing at the front of the camp. If this happens they would build a new sewage system for it and the camp.
- Good team in church. They are growing and have a lot of projects.
Julie Bailey led a prayer for Artur.
Sergei Sutshkov – Kohtla-Jarve
- They had a celebration and almost the all Russian churches were represented.
- Every Sunday they have a Bible study.
- They did an evangelistic outreach ministry with some events on the streets. They rented a large hall and invited people to come. Many people heard the gospel.
- Mt. Bethel provided support for children to go to Children’s Camp.
- They have regular Bible study in a Social Center. 2 people have become members of the church.
- Sunday School teacher left to work in Norway so they need to replace.
- They are only 1 of 2 Methodist Churches in Estonia that don’t have their own building. New Beginnings Church in Tallinn is the other one. They had been given free use of the house they currently use for 10 years but that will end next year. They will try to buy the house. It needs a lot of renovations. It would be a big investment so will not do anymore work until they know if they can buy it. They don’t know the price but think it will be around $45,000.
- Kohtla-Jarve has 40,000 people with 80% speaking Russian.
Carey Akin led a prayer for Sergei and the church.
Contest on questions about those there and experiences in Estonia.
Maria Rikkijeva and Mike Cantrell – Sunbeam
- Mike gave a background of the start of Sunbeam which opened in June 2013. Artur had a dream to have a center for disabled children. Mary Wallace gave the seed money of $100,000. The City Government gave them a long-term lease on a kindergarten building. Sunbeam is in the downstairs and they rent the upstairs to the Salvation Army and other businesses.
- Maria shared that Therapists from The Little Light House in Tulsa have come the last 2 years to help train them.
- Tartu University has partnered with them. They also partner with other Day Centers.
- They have development activities and educational games. (1) Development of social skills. (2) Broaden outlook with field trips. Children go to Camp Gideon. (3) Physical growth and development, perform basic tasks, teamwork perception of the world. (4) Artistic development. (5) Emotional development with cooking and a birthday party.
- She told a story of Monika who is 18 years old. After 1 year she showed significant change. She has more desire to communicate.
- The children are all different in their personalities and interests. They must be creative with them.
- There are 15 children now with 11 coming every day.
- Artur would like to open a kindergarten so the children could continue after pre-school.
- Financial needs – Every winter they get behind about 4,000 Euro due to the heating. They need to rebuild the heating system. Mike said it needs to be reinsulated which would cost about 100,000 Euro.
- There will be 3 US interns serving at Sunbeam this summer.
David Himmelsbach led a prayer for Sunbeam.
Ullas Tankler – GBGM
- Ullas gave a report via Skype.
- He covers Europe, Eurasia and North Africa. The Nigeria situation is difficult and needs prayer.
- Key areas of support are National Missions, Tallinn Youth Pastor, Children Ministry Director and Academic Dean. Total around $32,000.
- They send missionaries to Estonia and support the church as a whole, and new developments in the Seminary. They provide 4 Seminary student scholarships.
- They have a new program called Global Missions Fellows. They recruit young people to go as missionaries and serve for 2 years. They provide the finances and training. Churches request someone and they match up the young person best suited.
- Parnu introduced Mission Moment once a month where they talk about one place where there is no church. They provide basic information about the country including their music. Ullas shares his experiences in this country and they pray for them.
Harry Turner led a prayer for Ullas.
Upper Room – Tarmo Lilleoja, Editor
- Taavi showed a video of Tarmo.
- The Upper Room has been translated into the Estonian language for 20+ years. It is the most prominent Christian publication. It is also available outside the Methodist Church.
- The aim is to make it sustainable and have taken some steps in that direction.
- Would like for people to do yearly subscriptions.
- Question was asked how many hours it takes each month. He is scheduled to work 2 days a week but cannot finish it in that time frame. He does the translation and the layout.
- Christmas is the largest time of interest with 1500 published. Last month was 1300 but not all were sold.
- He would like to see more Estonian writers. They need to be encouraged to do this.
Julianna Gunby led a prayer for Tarmo.
Robert Tsherenkov – Russian speaking Youth Ministry
- Report via Skype and Taavi showed a video first highlighting the Youth Ministry events.
- Robert is one of the Pastors at the Russian speaking church in Tallinn and is involved with the youth.
- After 23 years of independence, Estonia has changed a lot. But for churches a new challenge. Estonia is the least religious country in the European Union. The answer is to work with the youth and young adults.
- About 40 young people worship every Sunday and some of them are non-Christian.
- Every Saturday the Jr. Hi kids have an event.
- They have small groups during the week.
- They have a city-wide camp.
- Summer camp is the highlight of the year.
- They had 70 kids at Children’s Camp.
- It will take more prayer, more workers and more evangelism to reach more young people.
- Evangelism events – Street evangelism, give New Testament to friends, social media by posting pictures of events, make church visible and rent space for Good News Club outside the church.
- They need more co-workers. In September they launched “Year for God” and will start new youth groups.
- To accomplish their tasks they need finances and he thanked their supporters.
Cynthia Lewis led a prayer for Robert and the Youth Ministry.
Taavet Taimla – Sports Ministry and Asbury Seminary student
- Not much to update on Athletes in Action.
- Busy with studies at Asbury Seminary.
- He’s learning sports Chaplaincy.
- They will have 2 camps this summer which he will participate. They are working on getting US coaches to come.
- He will go to Brazil after the summer camps to participate in a mission project “Global Awakening”.
- He will be back in Estonia for the Summer Conference. More people are involved each year and the numbers go up each year.
- Expressed thankfulness that the Voru Church is done and they are growing. There are young people coming. They have had a missionary couple working with the youth and this has been very fruitful. He knows the church is the people and not the building but he has learned a lot from not having a building and the value of it.
- His goal is to work in missions and teach. Maybe pursue PH.D. studies. He is a big defender of short-term missions.
David Lewis led a prayer for Taavet.
Quiz on Estonia.
Taavi Hollman – Political environment (covered this morning so did Q&A)
- Any points of resistance about establishing new churches? No.
- Things have changed about him being asked to go in to schools.
- During the Soviet years the government was the enemy. Not so now. Good ecumenical relations. The state has Chaplains in the prisons, military and police.
- Seeing non-denominational? It is growing. They target youth and do good outreach. They don’t care where they meet which makes it easy for youth to come. Some young people say they don’t want the church but they want a personal relationship with Christ.
- Is the Russian Orthodox Church relevant? Among Russians it is.
- He read info on Ukraine about what has happened there. It is not just that Russia wants to take over but Orthodox Christians in the east say they shouldn’t join the EU and the western Protestants say they should.
- Teams are canceling trips to west Ukraine but he said it is as safe to travel there as US travel. This has affected construction projects.
Earl Greenough led a prayer for the political environment in Estonia.
Adjourned for dinner.
Randy Dilts gave the welcome.
Responsive readings, songs and prayer.
Offering was taken.
Rev. J. D. Landis gave the message on John 15:1-8.
We are to bear much fruit. The main grape vine can get as big as a tree and can be prolific.
It takes certain nutrients for them to grow and thrive. The grapes get it from the vine.
Jesus provides the things we need. He is our source of life. It’s critical for the believer to stay connected to Jesus. Apart from Him we can do nothing. How do we get connected? Call out to God as we can’t do it ourselves. Ask Him, through prayer, to act on our behalf. Sometimes our prayer life is anemic and our life has to be turned upside down to change it. A lot of churches are struggling. I believe they need prayer.
We need the nutrients of the Word of God. He gives us peace and joy (fruit), bear the fruit of love.
Churches with these bear much fruit. We bear fruit as we branch out. We need other believers. We need them to encourage us.
Randy Dilts dismissed us with a blessing.
Saturday April 18
Jim Davis gave the welcome and opening prayer.
The offering totaled $3,337.00 for the designated areas plus additional money for other things.
Devotional – Mike Cantrell
Follow up from last night of Abiding in Christ. When you move through a meeting quickly you have gone from discernment to negotiation. Look at Pros and Cons in negotiation.
Paul would not have followed God’s will. This process is good for counting the cost but not the reason to engage or disengage.
Col. 2:6-10 Underscore verse 8, no one take captive ….. world traditions.
On Christ, not the principals of Christ.
Kaupo Kant – Tree of Life in Voru
- Report via Skype. Taavi showed a video first showing the dedication of the new addition and various ministries.
- They have the longest river, the highest mountain, the deepest lake and their own dialect.
- God has been graceful. He thanked everyone for their prayers and support and for being a part of the mission. This gives them strength and encouragement.
- New people are coming and new activities. Something going on every day. They want to be central in the region. The Children’s and Youth Ministry are growing.
- God is moving through prayers and they are seeing some results. God is enabling them to fulfill the mission He has for them.
- Food Banc – Estonian organization that uses food that would be wasted. 100,000 in poverty with 40,000 being children. They cooperate with the church to deliver food that is given away from shops and factories. They need prayers to manage with expanding needs and challenges. They share the gospel too. For many of them it is the first time they are in a sanctuary. They can lead them to the Alpha course.
- They will have a confirmation class during the month of May.
- When you are in touch with the real world you see how broken the world is. He told a story of a family in spiritual bondage. Kaupo and 2 others prayed over their house at their request. They have changed and the strange things that had been going on at the house have stopped. They are now attending church.
- They will have an English Camp this summer, partnering with other organizations. This is a way to reach out to young people. They have a missionary couple from South Africa who plays with them and builds relationships.
- Disciple Bible groups meet each week. They see new potential leaders.
- Prayer meetings 4 mornings a week. Most important for church, gives power.
- Future plans – Continue with discipleship of new people.
- Main project is finished. Now they have some work they need to do in the backyard including equipment for children. They also need a sound system.
Margie Greenough led a prayer for Kaupo and Thea.
Estonian speaking Youth Ministry
Taavi showed a video of the Spring Camp this year.
Carolyn Yoder led a prayer for the Estonian speaking Youth Ministry.
The Lighthouse – Taavi showed a video and gave additional information
- They are the same as a Social Service Provider for at risk school children.
- Finances are covered 50% by Tallinn Government and 50% by private donations.
- Showed pictures of various activities such as Summer Camp, English class, performances, field trip to Parnu and baking.
- They have a government certificate allowing them to operate and also gives them credibility.
- The government contract for support goes through May 2015.
- They are still looking for a Project Director.
Dave Meilner led a prayer for The Lighthouse.
Jim Davis - College of Charleston and Huge Foundation
Harry Huge from East Battery, So. Carolina helped draft the constitution for Estonia. The Huge Foundation and the College of Charleston want to offer a scholarship for an Estonian student. The cost for 1 year is $39,000. Due to state laws they can’t do a full scholarship so their idea is for the student to pay $10,000, College Scholarship $10,000, Huge Foundation $10,000 and someone else the remaining $9,000. They contacted Jim because they knew of FOE. He told them FOE wasn’t set up to do it but he would pass the word along and see if anyone might know of a potential student or someone that would be interested in donating the funds.
Mike Cantrell led a prayer for this opportunity.
- Taavi showed a video of moments from 2014 which included the whole church, children’s, youth, guests, church renovation, blessings, places they visited and recognitions.
- Their purpose is to grow in Christ and faith together and to go out.
Julianna Gunby led a prayer for Rapina.
Student Outreach – Estonian Christian Student Union
Taavi showed a news clip of a food outreach project on the Tallinn University which is close to the BMC. Twice a month they get food from the Food Banc and day old items which they give away to the students. They have had a very positive response. They ask the student if they can pray for them.
Amanda Dean led a prayer for the Estonian Christian Student Union.
Time of prayer in small groups.
- Potential 2016 meeting sites – Bellevue in Nashville; Kingsport, TN; maybe Atlanta as GBGM is moving there next year and renovating a large old church downtown but Mary Nell said it probably wouldn’t be ready at the time we meet. No date set.
- Idea was thrown out about maybe having the 2017 FOE meeting in Estonia. More Estonians could participate. It would be a good time for Connecting Congregations to go to their church. That will be the 110th anniversary of Methodism in Estonia. Taavi said that is also the year for the Youth and Children’s Festival.
- Nominating Committee recommends the following to serve on the Executive Board members – Jim and Rachel Davis, Taavi Holman, Bishop Alsted, Harry Turner, Peter VanEyes, Scott Layer, J.D. Landis, Jack Harnish, Marc Lyon, David Himmelsbach, Julie Bailey, Eddie Fox, Page Henry, Ullas Tankler and Carolyn Yoder.
Motion seconded and approved.
Rachel Davis closed with prayer.
Meeting adjourned and dismissed for Communion Service.