Who are we?
Let me introduce Reformed International Theological Education—Canada (RITE Canada) to you. Reformed International Education—USA (RITE USA) was formed in 2003 when the supporting agency for a Baptist seminary in Donetsk, Ukraine stopped supporting it, both in terms of finances and visiting professors. Two board members of this supporting agency asked the students if they wanted to continue as a seminary, but now as a distinctively Reformed seminary. Since a group of students wanted this, RITE—USA was formed. The two board members of the former supporting agency met with students in May of that year, formed a board in June and started classes that September. At first, the seminary met in a very small Sunday School classroom with just one class where some of the students sat on stools in the hallway. The seminary had one administrator and translator, Natasha Seleznova. The next year, the seminary moved to another building, started a second class and hired Yana Matveyev as a second translator.
RITE Canada was incorporated on July 29, 2010 and received charitable status on February 1, 2011. RITE Canada was primarily formed because donations made to RITE USA from Canada were not tax deductible. Now that we have charitable status, they are tax-deductible when given to RITE Canada. In 2012, RITE Canada and RITE USA entered into a joint agency agreement. This enables us to work together in the most effective manner.
Purpose and Mission
1. To educate and equip nationals in Reformed theology and pastoral ministry by:
2. Providing Reformed theological education containing an emphasis on practical theology;
3. Provide ongoing assistance, counsel, and training for their ministries;
4. Encourage the establishing of Reformed churches in South-Eastern Ukraine. These goals will be accomplished as we begin:
– Establishing a theological school in the Donetsk Region;
– Recruiting qualified professors committed to Reformed theology and its principles; and
– Developing a curriculum balanced between doctrinal and practical theology.
What do we teach?
When we started the seminary, we tried to build a curriculum which would address core theological classes and practical ministry work. In terms of theology, we offer classes on all the core systematic theology subjects: God, man, Christ (person and work), doctrines of salvation, ethics, eschatology and apologetics. We also have classes in Biblical theology dealing with God’s covenants and the flow of redemptive history. We offer a course on Calvin’s Institutes that fits into both of these categories at different points. We usually cover the sacraments under these headings although they come up under the systematic courses also. We provide classes on Bible survey, hermeneutics, and various books in the Bible (Pentateuch, poetic books/wisdom literature, prophets, Gospels, Pauline epistles, Revelation have been taught) and we provide courses in Church history.
At times we have also addressed particular subjects that our students have requested. For example, last year a class was taught dealing with the gifts of the Spirit and the arguments for cessationism at the request of several students who felt they needed material on that subject.
On the practical side of things, we have classes on homiletics, pastoral counseling, evangelism, worship (not only a theology of worship, but practice work in putting together Reformed worship services), church administration, and church leadership. We have taught classes examining the offices of elder and deacon and how they should function in the church.
We also set up a program for ministry experience. We require all our students to be involved in some ministry which is different from their regular ministry duties. Eugene Polyanitsa, one of our students, coordinates these activities. Some of the ministries are evangelistic outreaches in the community, youth work, prison ministry, work with the poor, and teaching Bible classes. At the moment, we offer a four-year bachelor’s degree in theology and a two-year master’s degree.
It should be noted that not all students are at the seminary to become pastors in local churches. In fact, of the thirty students we normally have only one third either are pastors or would like to become one. The other twenty are at the seminary to become Reformed leaders in their churches.
We offer classes two weeks per month ten months of the year. No fewer than 10 United Reformed ministers from Canada have taught at the seminary since 2003.