We count it as a joy and a privilege to have run the Osijek Doctoral Colloquium for a seventh year. The sacrificial generosity of many has made the development of yet another cohort of contextual missional thinkers in Central and Eastern Europe a reality. New generations of believing and practicing scholars keep being amazed, challenged and transformed by the ethical, spiritual and theological riches of the Christian Tradition. New leaders in academia, indigenous writers, contextual activists and open-minded citizens keep being trained in stimulating research facilities. Committed mentors contribute their experience, time, knowledge and resources in order to empower, equip and release new harvesters into the Lord’s field.
“[The greatest benefit of ODC is] to see people who have same difficulties as you or even greater ones and to help each other to overcome them, feeling the shoulder of a colleague and brother or sister and knowing that you are not alone on your journey.” (Summer 2022 ODC participant in Almaty)
Having said that, we are happy with our hybrid model (ODC 2.0). Now that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, we have gone back to spending quality time in person since the summer of 2022. Both the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia, and the Almaty Bible Institute in Kazakhstan hosted a new cohort of ODC students.
Yet, all our devotionals, student presentations, academic seminars and life stories can now be followed live via Zoom. People are also able to go back to them thanks to the recordings stored in Moodle. In practical terms, we are able to offer the benefits of partaking in a stimulating, student-friendly learning environment to anyone in Central and Eastern Europe with access to electricity, a stable internet connection and a desire to do advanced theological work. Strange as it may seem, ODC’s online platform means that we may offer all of these benefits even to Russians and Ukrainians whose travel may be restricted.
The Summer ODC witnessed a long-awaited return to the excellent facilities of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek. Ten students and mentors could yet again benefit from its refurbished accommodation, its air-conditioned study areas and its extensive theological holdings. In addition, 13 participants met in Almaty. Three joined online. Among them was our first Latvian student.
“The biggest advantage for me was that it was possible to concentrate on our own task and everyone received individual help. I think lectures on research methodology are also very useful, even if you have already heard them. In my opinion, the encouraging, Christian spirituality with which each mentor stood by the students was a big advantage. This was also very important to me. We were encouraged in front of each other; no one was shamed or condemned for any shortcomings. My goal was in participating in the ODC was to be able to narrow down my older topic so that it could be researched more easily. I think, with the help of God, mentors, and fellow students, I have achieved it.” (Summer 2022 ODC participant in Osijek)