A two-week program was set in January 2020 to provide Christian researchers with a learning community across denominational and national boundaries: with a quality library as well as on-line resources, regular mentoring and continuous peer-to-peer support, and additional opportunities for academic growth through other CEEEAMS programs, like he CEEAMS Annual Conference, and the CEEAMS Study Groups. It took almost a year to have it all set for the first ODC Winter that took place in Osijek, Croatia, at the Evangelical Theological Seminary, from January 18 to February 1, 2020 as such an endeavour demanded securing additional finances and organizational capacities.
“The time of fellowship felt to me as a breath of fresh air after writing intensely for quite a while. The mentors’ suggestions concerning my thesis were valuable as well: they have helped me see the blind spots of my paper. The opportunity to present my work in front
of other students and mentors gave me some ideas of how I can improve and prepare for the defence.” (Student participant)

It was attended by ten participants: two mentors and eight students. The participants came from five countries of CEE representing five Christian denominations. Two out of eight PhD students were in an advanced stage of their research (one almost at the end, and the other one in the second year of study), while the rest were at the very beginning of their PhD journey. In terms of topics, they study
different theological disciplines with a strong missiological dimension and issues relevant to church and society in CEE.
“One of the participants, is coming from an Orthodox academic institution. After the time spend at ODC he confessed that he was amazed to learn that there are so many Protestant resources for his PhD topic. he was not aware that they are existing, and that Protestant thinkers reflected so seriously on that topic. Moreover, he also said that outside ODC, for him would have been impossible to access those
resources. As a result, he decided to recommend to his colleagues in the PhD program at the Orthodox Theological Faculty to plan to attend the future ODC’s.” (Mentor participant)
In terms of profession two were active pastors; two are Sunday school teacher instructors; two are involved in the Christian publishing business and social media; three are faculty lecturers; one ODC participant is also part-time assistant to the ODC program. In terms of
gender, this year` group was equally split between male and female participants.
ODC seeks to be an open space for engaged missiological and ecumenical reflection, a hub and a platform for missiological learning and research with clear terms of reference, support of local churches, transparent and accountable leadership and with international
connectivity, seeking to address the key missiological challenges of the region.
“I received lots of information which helped me to focus on my topic and to rethink my outline. The mentors helped me to understand much better what I have to do to produce a good research and how to study the topic of my interest.” (Student participant)