April 16, 2018 marked the beginning of a new master's degree program at the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary. This master's degree is focused on a biblical and theological understanding of urban mission, considering God's perspective on cities, urban churches and urban ministries.
The first session of the Master's Degree in Urban Mission included two courses. Urban Anthropology and Sociology was taught by Dr. John Fuder, director of the "Heart for the City" ministry and author of the book, "Neighborhood Mapping," and Michael Allen, senior pastor of Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago. The second course, Theology of Urban Mission, was taught by Dr. Robert Calvert, former international director of Bakke University in Seattle and pastor of three urban churches in Scotland and the Netherlands.
As the first session unfolded, several students and auditors shared their impressions:
Olha Konduik, a coach in the public organization Innovista: "Having years of experience in different social and missionary initiatives, I noticed that the Church had learned to minister to so-called 'marginal' groups but did not know how to minister to an average Ukrainian. Despite the fact that 70% of Ukrainians live in cities and towns, Christians find it very challenging to reach out to them. So, I thought that the Urban Mission program would help me in learning how to do that."
Oleksander Kulahin: "The personal example of the speakers is really important and motivating. As a matter of fact, we often go to extremes — become thinkers, rather than doers, or the other way around — focus on application, while ignoring reflection. That is why I am so thankful to the speakers who showed us the middle ground and how it works."
Andriy Petruchenko, pastor of Rock of Salvation Church in Kyiv: "I am thankful to God for the chance to study here. The issue of discipleship has always been important, especially for leaders. To effectively conduct a ministry entrusted by the Lord, ministers need to be learners. The course [on Urban Anthropology and Sociology] enables me to understand how important it is to analyze the environment and the ministry in which one serves and to adapt to new conditions. Urban populations are undergoing numerous changes. This means that the instruments we use today may be less effective or ineffective tomorrow. I also liked the practical assignments we were given, when we visited large urban churches and their pastors shared from their experiences. Earlier, I had been rather skeptical about using surveys, but in this course, I saw how they could work. People shared their needs which a local church could meet."
Eric Yodis, a church-planter and an auditor: "Taken the fact that I already have a degree in theology and pastoring experience, much of the course is familiar to me. However, it is always good to refresh one's knowledge, as well as to get ideas of new concepts. I found it very useful to audit the course."
Stella White, a missionary of WorldVenture and UETS English teacher: "What I like about the [Theology of Urban Mission] course is the combination of theoretical knowledge and practical principles. On the one hand, we studied what the Bible says about urban mission by analyzing the urban ministries of Nehemiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, Jesus Christ, Peter and Paul. On the other hand, the professor shared with us from his rich experience of being a pastor in three different urban churches."
Oleksander Zhakun, a coordinator of ССХ Ukraine (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students of Ukraine) and an auditor, said: "I liked the way that Dr. Calvert taught. He opened my eyes and helped me to see that a city was made up not only its residents, but also by their relationships and various influences. It helped me reflect about how we could impact a city as an organization."