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Nikolaev heads Moscow United Methodist seminary

By United Methodist News Service
Feb. 12, 2008

The Rev. Sergei V. Nikolaev

The Rev. Sergei V. Nikolaev has been elected president of the Russia United Methodist Theological Seminary in Moscow.

The election by the seminary’s board of trustees was effective Jan. 1. Nikolaev will continue to teach as the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism as part of the seminary's Ruediger and Gerlinde Minor Chair.

Calling the election "a great honor," Nikolaev said he hopes the seminary will lead development of the denomination in Eurasia, "strengthening the Methodist theological and spiritual identity."

He succeeds the Rev. Tobias Dietze, a missionary from Germany, who had led the seminary since its opening in 1995. More than 100 pastors have studied there through residency and correspondence programs, coming from as far away as Siberia and the Far East, Central Asia, Ukraine and Belarus. More than 30 students are enrolled during the current academic year.

Nikolaev recently received his doctorate in the History of Christian Tradition from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where his dissertation explored the issue of Orthodox church relations to non-Orthodox churches. As part of his education at Southern Methodist, he received the Dempster Fellowship from the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and a fellowship from the Foundation for Evangelism.

“My vision is that the Russian seminary will assume a true leadership position in developing the United Methodist Church in Eurasia, strengthening the Methodist theological and spiritual identity.”–The Rev. Sergei V. Nikolaev

United Methodist Bishop Scott Jones, a seminary trustee and one of his former professors at Southern Methodist, called Nikolaev’s selection "a bold and strategic step for the Russia Initiative." Jones cited Nikolaev's intelligence and knowledge of both Christian history and Russian culture.

An ordained elder in the Russia United Methodist Church, Nikolaev previously served as pastor of Perovo United Methodist Church and director of the Moscow Evening Bible School for Laity. He has been a member of ongoing Orthodox-Wesleyan consultations since 2000. During his doctoral studies, Nikolaev served as a visiting professor to the Russian seminary, where he was appointed the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism in 2005.

With the support of the Moscow episcopal office and the Foundation for Evangelism, he initiated the Competition for the Best Project of Evangelism, encouraging responsible evangelism in Russia and the former Soviet Republics.

Nikolaev will be a delegate to the 2008 United Methodist General Conference and recently was elected co-chairperson of the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.  

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