From March 10 to 20, 2020, the Theological Institute of the Church of Ingria (TICI) taught another term of the Beginning Theological Course. Some of the students have shared their impressions:
Valeri Strelkov, St. Mary’s Congregation, St. Petersburg: “The Beginning Theological Course is a great time you can be spiritually enriched, have a quiet time with Christ, get spiritually fed. Fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ is really strengthening. It’s a chance to reconnect with people you haven’t seen for a long time and, on the other hand, meet new people. You’re going to study, have a social time, sing Christian songs, have meals, praise God, and all of that together as one family. You’re not going to regret it if you come!”
Anna Yeletskova, St. Mary’s Congregation, St. Petersburg: “After I finished confirmation class at St. Mary’s Congregation, I had questions like ‘What?! Is the confirmation class already over? Where can I get more of something like that?’ The answer came when Pastor Mikhail Ivanov told me about the Theological Institute and that you can and should study there, and the first place you need to go to is the Beginning Theological Course (BTC). My friends and I enrolled at once, but we couldn’t even have guessed what was waiting for us! The BTC is not only a lecture and practice course, but it’s also a direct connection to the congregation in Koltushi, it’s fellowship after class among students, personnel, and teachers, it’s the dining-room workers who prepared very good food and worried about us if some of us didn’t show up, it’s prayers together, get-togethers in the evening or even at night, a shashlik party by a campfire singing songs to the guitar, and it’s even a sauna! And that’s not all there is to say about it! Anyway, if there was a place you could bathe in God’s grace head over ears, it’s the TICI. The BTC offered great subjects of study, although it’s more of a quality appetizer for in-depth study later. Most importantly, while the BTC has helped put my prior scrappy knowledge in better order, I have a desire to go further and enroll in the bachelor’s program. Many cordial thanks to all the people involved! It was really a time of God’s grace for me! God’s blessings!”
Valeri Trusov, St. Andrew the Apostle Congregation, Kazan: “I really liked the days of study I spent at the TICI. Thanks to the lectures and classes that we had, I learned many new things and also broadened the knowledge I already had. I think studying at the TICI is a very good blessing that is offered to anyone. I’m very thankful that we have such great teachers at the Institute who imparted so much to us. As we studied, we had very many questions that we had a chance to ask to the teachers. In turn, the teachers answered all of the questions we had that were really important for us. I really enjoyed my time at the Course. It was great and I hope I come back to continue my studies at the TICI. Glory be to God for all things!”
Andrei Bratchenko, St. Anne’s Congregation, St. Petersburg: “Hi, everyone! My name is Andrei, I am a church member and server at St. Anne’s Congregation (Annenkirche). I have completed the Beginning Theological Course which I joined in the fall of 2019 (Module 1) and finished on a peculiar date, 20.03.2020. A funny coincidence.
How did I learn about the BTC?
I learned about the BTC from my brothers and sisters in Christ in the church who had gone or were going through the Course. They had very positive impressions and emotions, plus it became obvious to me it was important to deepen and strengthen my knowledge of various aspects of the Christian faith, in particular, the Lutheran confession.
Why do I recommend going through the Course?
The Course is very useful for anyone who serves in the church in whatever capacity. It majorly broadens the scope of the information we received in confirmation class and renews our knowledge of the New and Old Testaments. After the completion of the Course, all of its students will have a much easier time knowing their way around in the liturgy, in the order of the worship service, and they will even have led at least one morning prayer service personally.
What does the BTC give you?
The answer is obvious: first of all, it’s knowledge. But also, it gives you a certain amount of experience, it expands your perspective. In my opinion at least, a great advantage of the BTC is that it gives you an opportunity to travel back into the time you were an undergraduate, with get-togethers in the kitchen, with singing songs to the guitar, it’s definitely a special atmosphere.
In conclusion, I’d like to say the time I spent in Koltushi was blessed and peaceful. In his sermon he spoke on the last day of class, Bishop Ivan Laptev put it very well that at the Theological Institute we’re like on the chest of the Lord God who wraps us over with the front of His garment. [Russian idiom meaning complete safety, being protected from any dangers].”
Material prepared by Kristina Gainova
Photo credits: Bishop Ivan Laptev