Dr. Ken Collins, professor of Historical Theology and Wesley Studies, taught a course in Wesleyan Theology at the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary in Tallinn, Estonia during the first week of April.
Estonia is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, and Tallin is both the capitol and largest city. There are currently 1.29 million people living in the former Soviet Republic. And while it ranks high in terms of economic and political freedom and education, the World Bank lists it as one of the lowest in religiosity. 75.5 percent of the population claim to be without religion. Only 16 percent profess a belief in God.
“You can make a fairly big difference in a country like Estonia,” says Dr. Collins. “Methodism is small, with only about 25 Methodist churches in the country.” He says that the largest religion in Estonia is Evangelical Lutheranism.
Dr. Collins has taught the course every year except one since 1998. He offers a 3-day intensive to both Russian and Estonian speaking students through an interpreter.
Most of the pastors in Estonia in terms of Wesleyan theology have been in his classroom at some point or another, he says.
“What I always appreciate when I teach outside the US is the chance to see the difference that the teaching makes in people’s lives in terms of their practical Christian experience. And so I hear from students from time to time that Wesley’s theology became the means by which they’ve experienced greater freedom in their Christian walk and that they’ve come to clarity and deeper love of God, of Christ. So that’s always rewarding and that happens on a regular basis –that people find his theology transforming, liberating.”
Dr. Collins says the Estonians are good students and take their education very seriously. “I really love the Estonian people and I want to help spread Methodism there.”
Dr. Collins has also taught John Wesley’s theology in other countries, including Costa Rica, South Korea, Russia, and Australia.