Grace Seminary’s competency-based seminary program, Deploy, recently partnered with Baptist Theological School (BTS), an undergraduate Bible college in Serbia, to open the country’s first evangelical seminary. Akademija Teoloskih Nauka (ATN), or the Academy of Theological Sciences, is now a fully accredited evangelical seminary with six students in the Master of Arts in Local Church Ministry program.
“Grace Theological Seminary’s Deploy program is honored to partner with the Academy of Theological Sciences in Serbia’s second city, Novi Sad,” said Dr. Freddy Cardoza, vice president of Grace Theological Seminary. “With the new student body being comprised of students from Serbian, Slovakian, Romanian and Macedonian backgrounds, Deploy has expanded its reach well into Southern and Eastern Europe for the glory of God.”
According to Gabe Tribbett, the Deploy program director at Grace, a majority of Serbia’s population identifies as Orthodox Christians, and estimates show the country is only 0.7% evangelical — making this partnership a very strategic move in advancing the gospel.
“Conversations about the partnership began in 2020, when BTS leaders Dwayne and Kimberly Baldwin, a Grace Seminary alumna, reached out to me,” said Tribbett. “They recognized the great need and wanted to create more opportunities to reach Serbia, the Balkans and Greater Europe with the Gospel. And we were immediately interested in doing anything we could to partner with them in that pursuit.”
Launching the seminary required the acquisition of a building, numerous renovations, negotiating tuition, obtaining textbooks and getting the school registered with the Serbian government.
The program officially began on August 25, with an orientation Zoom call led by Tribbett and Cardoza. Since Serbian culture largely emphasizes community, ATN’s classes will be delivered in a cohort style. The first class, “Becoming a Mature Disciple,” is currently underway, to be followed by the course “Biblically Healthy Churches.”
The cohort’s six students are scattered throughout Serbia and the Balkans, so each class requires them to travel to ATN’s campus for a one-week intensive. As current ministry leaders, the students will be able to apply what they are learning to their ministry contexts, and in coherence with Deploy’s model, they will have an onsite ministry mentor in addition to an academic mentor and spiritual mentor.
“As we’ve talked with students, it has been incredible to see their gratitude and excitement,” said Tribbett. “One of our biggest goals is to encourage them that they can succeed in seminary because of Christ living in them. The Spirit of God is using them in the Balkans, and we want to see more people worship our Savior because of their ministries. We collaboratively provide support to our ATN students through academic coaching, ministry guidance and, most importantly, praying for them.”
Photo attached: Dr. Freddy Cardoza, vice president of Grace Theological Seminary, and Gabe Tribbett, the Deploy program director, met virtually with Serbia’s first batch of Deploy students through Akademija Teoloskih Nauka.