From the Pews

June Birthdays and Anniversaries

posted May 30, 2019, 8:32 AM by Bowmansville UMC

07 – John French

11 - Bud & Judy Martin ..... Happy Anniversary to Bud and Judy!

14 – Sandy Bittermann

28 – Ken Kowalski

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Estonia Mission

posted Apr 29, 2019, 1:41 PM by Bowmansville UMC

Happy Easter From Estonia!


Happy Easter! Estonians say, Häid ülestõusmispühi!, which literally means, “happy rising out of bed”. Hopefully you rose up on Easter and proclaimed with Estonian Methodists the famous call and response, “Kristus on üles tõusnud. (Christ is risen). Ta on tõesti üles tõusnud! (He has risen indeed!). Christ is truly risen!  

              As we celebrate the reality of the risen Christ in our lives and churches during the season of Easter, here are a few updates related how we are serving our risen Lord in Estonia.

              Doug is teaching three history classes this semester: The Early and Medieval Church, The Reformation, and The Enlightenment to Today. Kulli is teaching Systematic Theology. This year, we have an amazing group of students who are highly engaged and ask a lot of good (and sometimes difficult!) questions.

What Would Wesley Preach Conference

              March 15-16 was the Estonian pastor’s conference held in Parnu. About 40 pastors, lay preachers, and students gathered. This was a continuation of the What Would Wesley Preach project the church began last September where a workshop was given on how to preach effective sermons. This session, over dozen pastors and students presented sermons inspired by messages found in Wesley’s Standard 52 Sermons which had recently been translated into Estonian. The preacher then received feedback from the group on a host of criteria to assist them to grow. Kulli  contributed by giving feedback to each speaker and delivering a presentation on What Would Wesley Read? She went over some of the books which are known to have either been read or owned by John Wesley and his opinions on certain works. Kulli had a large part in organizing this event. The main point was to give pastors new  ideas and tools for preaching but connecting them strongly to Wesley's theology at the same time.


Palm/Passion Sunday

            On April 21, Doug preached the Tallinn Methodist Church for Palm/Passion Sunday. It was an amazing time of worship as there was a group who was visiting from various parts of Northern Finland and Russia who are ethnically related to Estonians. These are people groups who have had contact with missionaries from the seminary in the past.  Their songs and colorful costumes added to the atmosphere of celebrating Palm/Passion Sunday.


Methodist Youth Conference      

On April 26-27 Approximately 40 Estonian youth gathered for a four-day youth conference at a camp in Southern Estonia. Doug was selected to share with the group on the topics, “What is Forgiveness?” and “What does it mean to be a follower of Christ?” Kulli translated. On Saturday night, following a prayer walk, the youth had a time where they could come up and pray about various needs in their lives or those they loved. We both prayed with several youth as did others. All told, at least 2/3 of the participants came up for prayer. It was a privilege and a joy to be a part of this ministry and to see how young people truly are hungering after a deeper knowledge of their faith with Christ at the center!

New Seminary Logo

On May 24th, the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary where we serve will celebrate its 25th anniversary! The seminary has invited all previous graduates, current students and others to attend this important milestone. It will be a time of celebration and worship. We will share the history, celebrate the present, and share the exciting vision of what God has done and will do in our midst!

              Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! Happy Easter once again to all of you who are interested in our ministry and supporting us through your gifts and prayers.

In Christ,

Doug and Kulli

May Birthdays and Anniversaries

posted Apr 18, 2019, 3:07 PM by Bowmansville UMC   [ updated Apr 28, 2019, 2:47 PM ]

01 – Alice Davies 
03 – Kristin Siekmann 
15 – Ed Wierbowski, Rev. Cheryl Brown  
17 – Amanda Beaver  
24 – Sue Kostorowski 
25 – Ann Sikora  
31 – Bud Martin, Shawna McCarthy

16 – Joe & Ann Sikora
23 – Bill & Linda King
29 – Ken & Marybeth

Where are your communion offerings going?

posted Apr 18, 2019, 2:44 PM by Bowmansville UMC

April/May/June: WNY Hero’s
July/ Aug./Sept.: Hope Project 
Oct./Nov./Dec.: Trinity Pantry

April Birthdays and Anniversaries

posted Mar 31, 2019, 2:23 PM by Bowmansville UMC

06 – Penny Stenzel

14 – Kylie McCarthy, Judy Martin

16 – Arika Buckley, Carol Janicki

24 – Linda King

28 – Kevin Janicki

29 – Amy MacPeek (50th)

30 – Angel Stenzel

19 – Bob & Sharon Wilde

March Birthdays

posted Feb 23, 2019, 11:54 AM by Bowmansville UMC

07 – Mary Lee Wright

18 – Ted Janicki

25 – Cullen Brown

30 – Phyllis Hoskins

Estonia Mission - Article about Kulli from General Board of Global Ministries website

posted Jan 19, 2019, 7:29 AM by Bowmansville UMC   [ updated Jan 27, 2019, 1:27 PM ]

Kulli Toniste

Serving At: Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary

Location: EstoniaEurope and Eurasia

Home Country: EstoniaEurope and Eurasia

Spouse: Douglas R. Childress

Kulli Toniste.JPGKulli Toniste is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving as assistant professor of biblical studies and theology at the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary in Tallinn, Estonia.

The Baltic seminary needs qualified professors to meet European educational standards. It serves students from eight countries and offers instruction in Estonian, Russian, and English. Estonia is part of the Estonia Provisional Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church that includes districts in Latvia and Lithuania. The church in Estonia was never closed during the years the country was dominated by the Soviet Union, but it was closely controlled under communism. Kulli was born in Estonia and taught on both the college and the seminary level while living in the United States. Her husband, the Rev. Douglas Childress, is also a missionary in Estonia.

Kulli became a Christian in Estonia during the period of the Soviet Unions collapse and was for a time the only Christian in her family. “In 1988, we were able to celebrate Christmas again openly. I was 10 years old when I heard the song ‘Silent Night’ for the first time.” She had found a Bible in a closet, likely belonging to a grandparent, and she found fellow Christians at the Estonian Christian Pentecostal Church. Her family was initially suspicious, especially when, after high school, she attended a Bible college rather than a “proper” university.

From the Bible college, she went to Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary, where she earned the equivalent of a Bachelor of Arts degree and worked with mission volunteer groups within Estonia and from outside. She next enrolled in Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky, where she received a Master of Arts degree in biblical studies, and where she met her husband. Kulli earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in biblical theology through London School of Theology in the United Kingdom. In the US, she taught at Houghton College, Houghton, New York, and Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, New York.

Kullis first contact with mission was in college in relation to volunteer mission teams and she had a real interest, but the course of her life took another route at that point. After 15 years in the US, she was initially unsure about returning to Estonia as a missionary, but the doubt and any obstacles cleared away. “I can see now that the experiences that I gathered in the USA are valuable ground work for serving in Estonia. Nothing is wasted. I believe that God has been at work preparing us for this mission and has called us to Estonia.”

She sees Gods hand in developments and hopes that God will use her to help educate future pastors and laity in Estonia. She wants to see theological education in Estonia flourishing and answering the needs of todays church. Above all, she wants to follow Christ and put her credentials and talents to work for the benefit of the Estonian Christians that once nourished her faith.

Kulli and Douglas have three small children, Karl Robert, born in 2008; Kristofer Martin, 2010; and Kalev Douglas, 2012.


Doug & Kulli's address:  Kulli Toniste, Nomme tee 65-6, Tallinn, 11311 Estonia

The church as a whole should send cards and letters to them to support their missionaries. Their Advance Special number is: #3022133 BMTS #15021B

February Birthdays and Anniversaries

posted Dec 30, 2018, 3:32 PM by Bowmansville UMC   [ updated Feb 18, 2019, 9:24 AM ]

04 – Justin Brown

05 – Jane MacPeek

11 – Todd Skare

11 – Lindsey Siekmann

16 – Jean Meyers

28 – Todd and Bonnie Skare

Estonia Mission - Newsletter

posted Dec 29, 2018, 12:13 PM by Bowmansville UMC


It has been awhile since our last newsletter. The sunny warmth of summer has turned into the cold dampness and deep northern darkness of winter!
We welcome the adventDarkness is overturned when the One True Light enters the world.  


Baby Jesus in a manger. Seminary's Christmas play set. 


In August, Kulli began here tenure as rector/president of the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary. As the semester began, over twenty new students were greeted hailing from Ukraine, Russia, Finland, Ghana, Nigeria, the United States, and, of course, Estonia. 

Our kids also began a new year at school. Kristofer began first grade and his teacher tells us he is doing well. It is amazing how energized he is to go to school and is excited to learn his lessons. His Estonian is not perfect, but he pushes himself to learn! Karl is now in the fourth grade (Estonian schools start children one year later than American schools) and is doing well. He continues to be very active in Estonian dance and cannot get enough of building projects with Legos and Minecraft. Kalev started his final year of kindergarden. He has continued to practice Judo which is popular among young children in Estonia.

Kulli with some of her 2nd year  theology students: Olga, Julia and Viktoria are wearing Ukrainian festive clothing and our son Kristofer at seminary Christmas party.

Doug continues to work with a tutor on his Estonian. It is taking longer than he would like to learn, but he is making progress. He can understand some conversation. Estonian has some similarities to the Finnish language and both are considered difficult to learn. One of the new students from Finland shared an old joke with him about how Finnish is the language of heaven because it takes an eternity to learn, adding that we know that it is the language of heaven because of Jesus’s final words, “It is Finnish(ed).” 

In September, Kulli organized and Doug taught at a preaching seminar for the Methodist preachers and students preparing for pastoral ministry. The event was well attended with 44 participants. The theme of the seminar was What Would Wesley Preach in honor of the recent publishing of John Wesley’s Standard 52 Sermons into Estonian for the first time. Doug researched and did a presentation on early Methodist preaching and also preached a contemporary sermon based on Wesley’s sermon on The Marks of the New Birth. The seminar has a follow up where pastors get to present their sermons. It is hoped other ministers will also choose one of Wesley’s sermons and write a contemporary sermon based on its content and that we hope to publish these new messages for the greater Estonian UMC.
In October, we traveled to Berlin for a gathering of GBGM missionaries from around all Europe. There we were able to connect with other people serving in Europe and share our challenges and experiences as well as learn about how GBGM is preparing to lead in the future.


In November, we celebrated American Thanksgiving with some faculty and staff at the seminary. Doug shared various recipes with faculty members who all contributed to the feast. It was a good time of bonding and giving thanks for a busy but productive year together. We are thankful for our talented and dedicated coworkers.
The seminary Christmas party 2018


In December, the fall semester came to a close. We marked the semesters end with a Christmas party with students, faculty and staff. Celebration included food, games, singing, and a drama involving the Wise Men's visit to the baby in manger  acted by faculty/staff! Kulli thanked the students for a great semester sharing with them that part of her job as rector is to inspire the students, however, they were the ones who inspired her!

The students definitely are amazing. One of the leading ministers in Estonia whom was visiting the student chapel commented that the worship andstudents had “the smell of real faith”. We see and feel this too. It is a curious, active and spectacular group of students!

This is a sketch of what we have been up to (aside from our usual duties of teaching, English Speaking ministry, etc.) since last time we wrote. We thank you for your prayers, your gifts, and your good will.


Doug and Kulli

Advent Wreath

posted Dec 2, 2018, 2:43 PM by Bowmansville UMC   [ updated Dec 2, 2018, 2:47 PM ]

The Advent wreath began in the time of the Protestant reformer Martin Luther.  During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us:  (1) Hope, (2) Love, (3) Joy and (4) Peace.  Others consider the lighting of the first candle to symbolize expectation. 

The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve & Christmas day, reminding Christians that Jesus is the light of the world.  The order and exact wording vary among churches, but the wreath continually reminds us of whom we are called to be as followers of Jesus each and every day, as the circle is unbroken in symbolism.

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