God is doing a mighty work in and through the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary (UBTS)! With the vision and commitment of its dedicated leadership team and faculty – and the support of faithful donors – a new generation of Godly leaders is learning how to positively impact local churches throughout Eastern Europe!

In this video, Slavik Pyzh, president of UBTS, shares about the exciting growth of several new programs and illustrates the need to complete construction of the new building to accommodate the ever-growing numbers of students enrolled in Seminary and training programs.

UBTS opened in 2002 in the city of Boryslav in Western Ukraine. The Seminary offered a Bachelor of Pastoral Studies degree initially and added training in Christian Education, Music, and Choir. It also offered a Master of Divinity degree that was accredited in Ukraine only.

After Dr. Slavik Pyzh completed his studies and moved back to Ukraine in 2012, the Seminary moved to its current location in L’viv, the second largest city in Ukraine situated in the far Western part of the country.  A new chapter of impact began. The number and types of undergraduate and graduate programs at UBTS have grown exponentially since then, as has the size and composition of the student body.

The diagram below illustrates this phenomenal, God-ordained growth. It shows the three main paths UBTS has opened to broaden educational opportunities for local church leaders over the next several years.

  1. Campus-based graduate and undergraduate degree programs offered in L’viv (Blue outline). These programs are expected to grow to approximately 800 graduates per year.
  2. Specialized certificate programs taught by UBTS adjunct staff at multiple locations throughout Ukraine. UBTS expects to award certificates to over 1000 participants per year.
  3. UBTS-sponsored conferences on leadership and church life topics that are held in various venues with more than 2500 anticipated attendees per year.

 

This growth is in direct response to the needs of the local church. In 2012-13, UBTS surveyed pastors throughout Ukraine to determine their greatest needs as they serve their churches and communities. The respondents overwhelmingly cited two challenges: the lack of trained leaders and people who are not committed.

In 2016, UBTS – in partnership with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) – initiated a Master’s degree program taught by US-based SEBTS professors. Soon, UBTS will offer two Master’s-level offerings taught by Ukrainian professors and there are plans for doctorate level education to begin at UBTS later this year.

With UBTS degree programs necessarily limited to the number of students able to attend classes full-time in L’viv, UBTS leaders wrestled with the question: How can we equip young adults to support their pastors and serve in local churches through part-time training available closer to their homes?

After much prayer and strategic planning, UBTS launched the Young Leaders Program (YLP) in 2016 to train and equip students to be effective, committed leaders in local churches. This certificate program started with 25 students who met on weekends in another city. It has grown to 250 students who meet in six other cities throughout Ukraine.

But the YLP was only the beginning. UBTS now offers multiple training programs available at convenient locations and times for attendees. Some are offered in collaboration with other like-minded Christian organizations.

 

With women comprising more than 60% of church congregations, UBTS recognized the importance of providing them with specialized Biblical studies and training. In addition to the Women’s Ministry BA degree program, the School of Mentoring and Coaching certificate program prepares students to help others reach their potential as they serve in churches and missional organizations throughout Eastern Europe.

UBTS also sponsors and leads specialty conferences to provide training at UBTS during the summer and in various cities and venues on weekends throughout Ukraine. These events extend Gospel teaching and principles in many creative ways – while also providing much-needed operating revenue and efficiently leveraging the use of academic facilities throughout the year.

This growth and diversity of the offerings and impact at UBTS are truly evidence of the blessing and Providence of God!

The UPF Board of Directors is pleased to welcome a new member, Daniel J. Palmer.

He is the Lead Pastor for North Roanoke Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia. A graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Daniel brings more than a decade of major gift fundraising experience to the Board, as well as skills in strategic planning, communications, research, and social media.

We are grateful for his desire to use his gifts and passion for the lost in support of UPF and the work of God at UBTS.

It would have been nearly impossible for UBTS to meet the social distancing requirements for in-person classes if the new Academic Building had not been available. Praise God for His perfect timing!

UBTS first envisioned expanding its academic facilities in 2016. God led them to the current location for a new campus and inspired a fresh vision for growth and impact. Then God moved faithful donors to generously provide the $2.4 million to begin the building project.

The two floors and classrooms in the new Academic Building created by phase one renovations were critically important to manage safe operations in the Fall 2020 Semester. These new spaces, combined with the creative use of other available areas, allowed UBTS to continue to teach and mentor hundreds of students in-person in L’viv, while following all COVID-19 protocols.

Take a tour of the new facility in this video and see the dramatic progress that has been made towards transforming an old, unoccupied building into a thriving academic hub. Envision with us additional classrooms, kitchen and dining facilities, a library, and chapel – spacious, inviting places where UBTS students will be educated, equipped, and inspired! Imagine the Kingdom impact that students using this unique building will bring to churches and communities throughout Ukraine and beyond!

In the immediate term, completing construction in the unfinished areas will reduce COVID-19 rental costs, streamline operations, and provide greater opportunities for fellowship and connection among UBTS students, faculty, and staff. And when pandemic restrictions are lifted, UBTS also will be poised for an exciting new season of growth and impact.

Amazing! That’s the word UBTS supporters are using to describe the progress that’s been made in recent months on the new academic building. Improvements to date include:
• Addition of two floors and a full basement to the original two-story building
• Restored and expanded interior rooms
• Utility upgrades
• Replacement of all windows and doors
• Refacing the exterior for a clean, modern look

The first two floors of the building will be available for use in September for student instruction. With these improvements complete, the excavation and foundation work for Phase Two of the building project has begun.

This incredible progress in the face of the pandemic would not have been possible without God’s protection and His provision through significant gifts from many UPF supporters who made generous and timely investment in the move of God in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government has instituted a Color-Code Program for cities and regions to indicate specific protocols for Covid-19 prevention. Codes vary from Red (most restrictive), to Orange, Yellow, and Green (least restrictive). The government monitors infection rates and implements more restrictive measures if the infection rate rises in a specific city or region.

Approximately 70% of UBTS students live within 4-5 hours drive time from L’viv, with about 30% traveling to the Seminary by train or bus. While the government is now allowing public transportation throughout the country, busses or trains cannot stop to take on or drop off passengers in a Code Red area.

Color codes are either left as-is or reassigned each Monday. L’viv is currently listed as Code Orange, which will enable UBTS to operate as described here, with specified precautions (i.e. wearing masks, sanitizing, etc.). If the Color Code for L’viv changed to Red, in-person classes at UBTS would not be allowed and all classes would be offered online.

UBTS has developed protocols that both meet and exceed government requirements. Returning students are assigned to one of four cohort groups; each stable group will meet, dine, and sleep in separate locations.

  • There will be no interactions between students in different stable groups.
  • Faculty members will undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
  • Students will be monitored daily for temperature and other flu-like symptoms.
  • Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be asked to return home.
  • If an ill student cannot return home, care will be provided at a hospital in L’viv.

In this video, UBTS President Slavik Pyzh shares a message of hope and encouragement as he reflects on how the new school year will begin.

ubts-august-2019

UPF Board President Joe Privott recently returned from a trip to Ukraine where he visited the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary (UBTS) and conferred with educators and leaders there.

“I am truly in awe of what God is doing at UBTS,” noted Joe. “Growth and opportunity abound everywhere you look.”

ubts--august-2019In particular, Joe noted the record number of students enrolling at UBTS from throughout Ukraine. Many are drawn by the mentoring program and technology that helps them maximize every teaching and learning opportunity. He also observed the renovation and construction activity at the seminary’s new academic building. UPF spearheaded a capital campaign to support this expansion of facilities, raising over $2.5 million during the first 18 months.

“UBTS is no longer a struggling start-up. It has become an established, innovative Baptist seminary that is fulfilling a critical need to equip church leaders with the skills and spiritual values that will guide Ukraine’s future,” observes Joe.  “What a blessing that God allows people like us – from nearly 6,000 miles away – to support the learning and growth of UBTS students and, through them, to impact hundreds of churches and communities throughout Ukraine and beyond.”

Adds Joe, “The outstanding financial and spiritual support of UPF donors and friends has helped to make all of these achievements possible. May God continue to guide and bless this tremendous work and may we always give Him the glory!”

 

Ukraine Skyline

As UPF expands its efforts to reach and cultivate broader support for UBTS, we are pleased to welcome two new board members.

Scott E. Reed is the former Senior Executive Vice President and CFO of BB&T Corporation, one of nation’s premier commercial lending banks. Scott has more than 40 years of front-line and leadership experience in the banking and financial sectors. He has offered his expertise to advance the mission and work of a number of nonprofit organizations including the North Carolina Zoological Council, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Young Life of Forsyth County, The Salvation Army, and The Nature Conservancy of North Carolina.

Scott holds degrees from Wake Forest University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University. We are honored to add Scott’s experience and wisdom to the UPF Board.

Tony Vermillion currently serves as Vice President for Global Security at Emerson, a decentralized $25 billion global manufacturing and technology company with 65 divisions, 235 manufacturing locations, and 135,000 employees. His career includes prior service in the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and as director of global security operations for Proctor and Gamble’s North American and Asian sectors.

Tony earned a Master of Science degree from Indiana University – Purdue University in Fort Wayne, and a Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Bloomington. Since 1995, he has been designated as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP) through the American Society for Industry Security International. Tony’s global perspective and expertise add a new and important dimension of insight to the UPF Board.