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TORRINGTON, CONN (SZS) Our Synod, in partnership with the leadership of the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia (Evanjelická Bohoslovecká Fakulta, Univerzita Komenského), is hosting four seminary students as this summer’s participants in the Student Immersion Program of the Slovak Zion Synod. The program, which is part of the Synod’s mission in Central & Eastern Europe and is organized by the Synod’s International Relations Committee, brings students of the Seminary for a summer immersion internship in a United States congregation each year. This program provides these future pastors and church leaders with an immersion experience in church life, ministry, and mission in an American Lutheran congregation; at the same time, they serve as witnesses in their host congregations of the global church in their home country.

This year’s students are Filip Pupala, Michaela Tomčikova, Ivan Havassy, and Jakub Ferko. They will be joining the more than 150 to-date student exchanges which have taken place since 1991.

Filip is a second year seminary student from the town of Zvolen, which is in the central part of Slovakia approximately 30 miles north of the Slovak-Hungarian border. His interests include youth ministry, church history, and theology. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing guitar, and listening to music. He has a deep interest in church politics, hearing both sides of debates regarding church governance, and the ramifications of social policies adopted by national church bodies.

Michaela (Miška) is a third year student. She is from the town of Košice, in the eastern part of Slovakia approximately 8 miles north of the Slovak-Hungarian border. Her interests include youth ministry and social fellowship. She spends her spare time making crafts and making friends, both of which she enjoys. Michaela hopes to discover new perceptions of the Lutheran Church and is most excited to be able to experience a new culture and observe the differences between American church culture and the Slovak church at home. Miška looks forward to bringing back her experiences from the States to enrich her ministry in Slovakia when she is ordained.

Ivan is a fourth year student who is also from the town of Košice in the eastern part of Slovakia. His interests include working with youth and disabled persons. He is a Sunday School teacher in his home church and his favorite studies in seminary are in practical theology. His hobbies include reading, playing guitar, and playing soccer. He has traveled to Great Britain, Italy, Germany, France, and Egypt for family vacations, but looks forward to getting to know culture and customs in the USA as well as improving his English.

Jakub is a third year student from the town of Vranov nad Topľou, a city in the region of Prešov in eastern Slovakia, just 20 miles to the north of the Hungarian border and 25 miles to the west of the Ukrainian border. His interests include traveling, sports, and outdoor activities. Jakub feels his vocation is in pastoral ministry. He enjoys preaching and wants to gain more experience in it. He enjoys working with youth and young adults, and is energized by fellowship and interacting with others in the church community.

Congregations in Muskegon, Michigan; Whitehall, Michigan; Schulenberg, Texas; Trumbull, Connecticut; and New Haven, Connecticut are hosting this year’s students and are excited to be part of this mission. These students have been writing every week about their experiences in their host congregations. You are invited and encouraged to read more about their experiences in the Student Immersion Program pages of our site; just look for “Seminarian Sentiments” under Mission & Ministry, Global Mission, and Student Immersion Program.

We wish God’s blessings on these students as they complete their immersion experiences in their host congregations before returning to Slovakia later in September. And we thank all those who have supported this vital ministry with their prayers as well as with their physical and financial support. You are making a difference in the lives of these future pastors and leaders in Slovakia; and, by extension, you are making a difference in the lives of all those whom they will touch in their home churches and in their lives and future ministries.