Video Classes Go Beyond Russian Border
Course being recorded in the studio/classroom at Trinity Video Seminary in Kursk, Russia.
By Bruce Nilson
TVS Board Chair and Hershey Free Church Member
It has become increasingly clear to the board of Trinity Video Seminary that it is no longer a ministry just for Russia but rather a ministry based in Russia with the potential to reach many people and language groups around the world using the talent of the TVS staff and distance learning technologies.
The Hershey Free Church has supported TVS in many ways since it began as a residential seminary called Trinity Equipping Center in the 1990s. Over the years, the organization’s basic mission has stayed the same but the name of the institution and the way it reaches and teaches people today has changed dramatically.
Pastor Dave Hyatt and Bruce Nilson were the Hershey Free Church representatives at the three-day board meeting of TVS in Kusadasi, Turkey, in November. TVS is still based in Kursk, Russia, but for the past four years the annual board meeting has been held elsewhere (Chicago, Kiev, Hershey and Kusadasi) due to current Russian political tensions with the West and real concern about possible interference from the Russian government if the board meeting were held in Kursk.
The TVS staff continues to work with a great sense of urgency to record as many courses as possible while they can to later be edited and dubbed into other languages based on available funding. It has a total of 2,355 hours of recorded courses and seminars. Some courses that used to be distributed on DVD’s can now be seen on YouTube. These include 15 courses in Russian, four in Uzbek and two in English. Some courses have now been dubbed into Tajik (Farsi) and Portuguese with ongoing requests for translation into other languages. The Russian courses are also being broadcast to a large audience of mostly unbelievers in Siberia by a Christian who owns a TV station there.
TVS students go online to enroll in the seminary using a course management software program, and watch the videos through TVS’s dedicated channel on Youtube. In addition, students enrolled at other colleges and seminaries are watching courses produced by TVS that their institutions have adopted as part of the syllabus. More than 100,000 people (presumably Christians and non-Christians) from around the world have watched at least some of TVS seminars and courses for free on the internet. TVS staff are able to track viewer statistics on YouTube and often get emails from people who say how much they enjoyed a course or who write asking spiritual questions or sharing their testimonies.
Those attending the 2014 board meeting were: Vitaly and Igor Petrov, Vladimir Ivanov, Eduard Hamidullin, Daryl Anderson, Kevin and Sharon Koskela, Pastor Dave Hyatt and Bruce Nilson.
Vitaly gave his annual President’s report summarizing the activity and many accomplishments of TVS during the past year. TVS now employs 20 staff with expertise in distance learning and translating Biblical courses and seminars into multiple languages and available online to people around the world. All courses for the bachelor’s program have been completed and 26 of 30 courses for the master’s program have been recorded. TVS has also completed development of a special certificate program for pastors, evangelism and counseling. TVS staff continue to pursue accreditation through key partnerships with organizations such as the Euro-Asian Accrediting Association.
Vitaly reminded the board of the many other Christian colleges and organizations that have expressed interest in TVS materials because they do not have the expertise to record and distribute such high-quality content using world-class professors. The board spent considerable time diagraming and discussing the best ways to further leverage TVS to help fulfill its mission “To teach the truth of God’s Word to the most people using the best available teachers and methods.”
The board formed a finance subcommittee, approved the 2015 budget, revised the bylaws, approved 2015 goals proposed by Vitaly including the development of a new three-year ministry plan, established a subcommittee to research the most suitable country to officially register TVS in 2015 based on specific criteria established by the board, adopted EFCA Statement of Faith as TVS’s official Statement of Faith and established a subcommittee to set criteria for staff pension eligibility and staff policy handbook. The board also unanimously voted Bruce Nilson to be board chair and Kevin Koskela as vice chair through the end of 2015
The board also requested that Vitaly write a letter to all TVS supporters by early December to update them on the ministry and also announce his plans to visit the U.S. in 2015 to network with key ministry partnerships and also visit key supporters.
Pastor Dave explained how Hershey Free Church’s changing priorities for mission support will mean less financial support to TVS in the future although the church will continue its monthly financial support to Vitaly and Igor Petrov, and also may decide to fund special projects.
As in previous years, Bruce also will continue serving on the executive committee with Kevin Koskela in order to provide counsel to Vitaly throughout the year as needed as well as participate in board subcommittee work. Pastor Dave and Bruce agreed it would be best if his role in TVS continue as an extension of Hershey Free Church and that possibly another lay leader from the church could also become involved in this important ministry such as someone with missional knowledge or technical expertise.