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History of ERSU

revised September 15, 2015

Ukraine has a Reformed Christian heritage that stretches back to the Reformation. In the 16th century many Reformed churches sprang up in territories that are now part of Ukraine. But this part of Ukraine’s Christian millennium was almost forgotten.

These Reformed roots were renewed in the 1920s, when Canadian-Ukrainian missionaries helped revitalize this heritage in western Ukraine. Some of these believers suffered persecution in Soviet times, including Pastor Semenyuk of Rovno. It was his lifelong dream to see a Reformed seminary in Ukraine – a dream that he would live to see fulfilled.

The Reformed heritage was further revitalized in the 1990s by Dutch missionaries, who renewed Reformed churches in Rovno, Stepan, Zacarpathia & Kherson. Presbyterian missionaries also worked in this period, reviving the Reformed witness in Odessa region, then spreading to Nikolaev, Kherson, Kharkov, and Kyiv.

But these churches needed new leaders in order to grow. And their leaders needed seminary level training.

Marten & Janneke Nap, Dutch missionaries from the Reformed Churches Liberated of Gelderland and Flevoland (UC), moved to Kyiv in the early 1990s and set up a “Kitchen seminary” in their home. They thought of naming the seminary after the Orthodox Patriarch Cyril Lukaris of the 17th Century, who had correspondence with Calvinists and wrote a famous Confession where many Calvinistic ideas are expressed. The Naps’ small seminary may have seemed insignificant, with Rev. Nap teaching 5 students in the kitchen of his apartment. But it was an important beginning.

Something similar took place in Odessa. The Evangelical Presbyterian Churches (EPCU) also needed leaders and began training several students in the Monday night “School of Theology and Church Expansion” (STCE). This local training was supplemented by lectures in Kyiv at Ukraine Biblical Seminary (UBS) in July 1996. Odessa Presbyterian Seminary (OPS) was formed in Sept 1997, working in tandem with the UBS lectures to train leaders both in practical work and in Reformed theology.

When the Presbyterians came into contact with the Reformed in 1997, they decided to work together and involve other Reformed workers to form an ongoing Ukrainian institution. Consultations were held in 1998-9 with representatives from several Ukrainian churches and missions: the Ukrainian Evangelical Reformed Churches (UERC), the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ukraine (EPCU), and the Reformed Church of the Sub Carpathians (KRE), as well as foreign sponsors: the Reformed Churches Liberated in Gelderland and Flevoland, Mission to the World of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), and the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA).

Out of these consultations came the initiative to form the Evangelical Reformed Seminary of Ukraine (ERSU). An alliance (Soyuz) was formed in 1999 (legally recognized in 2001), and a joint Board was appointed by the UERC and EPCU, providing the infrastructure for the new seminary. Clay Quarterman was elected as President, and Marten Nap as Academic Dean. Official government registration was granted ERSU in February 2003, which is registered as a program of the Board of Union of Reformed Churches of Ukraine.

M.Div. classes began in May 2000 with the first 20 students. A second class of 17 students was added in September 2002, when the first yearly Convocation was held.

For fifteen years, the work of the seminary has been carried out as an international joint effort of many churches and missions: In 2001, Jos Colijn joined ERSU from Hattem mission, replacing Martin Nap as Academic Dean. Eric Huber (MTW of the PCA) and Rod Gorter (CRC serving with ITEM) served successively as Deans of Students. Scott Andes (World Witness/ARP) replaced them in this role when he moved to Ukraine in 2007. In 2013 Erik van Alten replaced Jos Colijn and took over the role of Academic Dean, before replacing Clay Quarterman as President in 2015. Alister Torrens (serving with ITEM) joined the staff in 2014 and took on the role of Academic Dean. 

Students have also received effective foreign language preparation from ERSU graduate Andrei Dilyuk and Ukrainian teachers Natasha Turovskaya and Alexander Pronin. Anya (Baklanova) Dudkina served as ERSU Registrar for many years, and Alexander Bogat was Administrator. Dinis Lukoshkin has served as both Administrator and Registrar since 2008.

After years of renting office space, the seminary purchased offices in Kyiv in 2007 for its study center and research library, where monthly tutorials are held with the students. Our librarians Masha Kalmuikova and Sodik Kuvondikov organized and catalogued the ERSU library, which now has over 5000 volumes and is administered by Librarian Dmitro Khomoretsky.

ERSU has served more than a 150 students in its first fifteen years. Current enrollment is 42, with students coming from all parts of Ukraine, as well as Belarus and Georgia.

From 2006 to 2009, ERSU ran the “Istoki” Bible college program with the aid of ITEM Mission. It was a bachelors level program which prepared students for seminary and other ministries. Three of these completed their 2-year certificate and two went on into the Masters program. We are thankful to Sasha Bukovetsky for his faithful service as the head of this program. We also hold an annual seminar for the wives of our students, and continuing education classes for our graduates and pastors.

ERSU seminary is not only training Reformed leaders for Ukraine, but it has become an instrument to disseminate Reformed Theology in Ukraine and the surrounding region. We have been approached for help by pastors in Russia, Croatia, Latvia, and countries in Central Asia. ERSU is now expanding its influence through use of the internet and online courses.

Our intensive modules are taught by qualified resident staff members and by guest professors from the USA, Holland, Canada, South Africa and other countries. Some ERSU graduates are also doing graduate studies abroad so they can return as permanent Faculty and Staff members.

Thank you for visiting our site. We trust that ERSU Seminary will continue long in this rich Reformed heritage as a worthy extension of the Gospel -- in Ukraine and beyond.


by Clayton Quarterman, PhD