In 2017, Rev. Sylvia Cortez Masyuk was awarded the Elizabeth Choate Scholarship, a scholarship dedicated to women in ministry. Sylvia recently wrote the following letter:
There are times when a gift is such a surprise, it takes our breath away.
There are times when a particular gift to a particular person reveals an affirmation of the recipient, which of course, is a gift hidden within the gift itself.
And there are times when a gift is so great and generous that the receiver is overwhelmed and even embarrassed by the sheer generosity of the gift and the giver.
In my case, receiving the NTS Elizabeth Choate Scholarship falls into all three categories. So great was this offer to me that I fear I will not be able to express the gratitude in my heart for the opportunity this scholarship affords me, especially at this particular time in my life.
I am a third generation Nazarene, who grew up in a parsonage and felt called to ministry when I was eight years old. Faith and ministry have been a vital part of my life for as long as I can remember. During my university years leaders and mentors steered me to Nazarene Theological Seminary where I eventually received my Master of Divinity degree. Later I worked at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) as one of the campus pastors and as Director of Discipleship Ministry for 11 years.
In 2011 I left PLNU to marry the love of my life, who I met while serving as a volunteer missionary in Kyiv, Ukraine. I was ordained in 2012 in Kyiv, where I now serve as preaching pastor and Education Administrator through European Nazarene Bible College for our Ukraine/Moldova Learning Center. I also help to organize various educational workshops and conferences throughout our region, including the next Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy Conference this November in Croatia!
I am now writing this letter two months into the program and I cannot express what a gift this program has been already. I know from the experience others have shared that a cohort is key to any doctoral experience. So I was curious and hopeful to meet those with whom I would be traveling on this journey. The one week colloquy at NTS this fall far exceeded my expectations of what I hoped a cohort would embody in this type of program.
This cohort is rich with sincere, faithful, kind, intelligent, passionate servants of God who deeply desire to grow spiritually and to help others grow in Christ. They have already blessed my life and I am confident that they will continue to be a strength for me on this academic journey.
As my DMin project continues to takes shape, I will be studying how the Protestant Church in Ukraine developed over the past thirty years, what Christians learned about the church and how they matured in their faith. From there, I would like to explore how we might develop a new curriculum for discipleship that ensures a broader understanding of Christian formation, the role of the church, and the role of Christians in the world. Special emphasis will be placed on a theology of the Eucharist here in Ukraine.
Upon graduating, I hope to introduce the curriculum in different platforms such as retreats and seminars throughout our churches here in Ukraine, as well as incorporating it within our ministry education program. Before receiving this NTS scholarship I had explored educational programs but I did not have the financial means to apply. Thanks to this generous gift, I am now able to further my theological education in service to the church. This generous scholarship is helping me to not only delve into a topic that I deeply care about, but to do so for the sake of those I am presently ministering alongside, as well as for the next generation of followers of the Jesus Way.
Rev. Sylvia Cortez Masyuk is currently enrolled in the NTS Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Formation program and lives and ministers in Kyiv, Ukraine with her husband, Volodymyr. Learn more about the DMin program here. To donate to a scholarship or start a new one, please visit our give page!