Connections with the Slovak Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession began with the invitation to Zuzana Mankova, a seminary student, to spend a year at Roanoke College in 1998-99. That experience was so rewarding for both the college and Slovak church that we invited Igor Feldy, another student at the Lutheran seminary in Bratislava, to attend Roanoke College in 1999-2000.
Following the two Slovaks who came as students, Roanoke College then invited Slovak doctoral students to teach at the college. There have been four Slovak doctoral students who have taught at the college--Magdalena Sevcik (2000-2001), Darina Kusnirova (2001-2002), and Lubomir Batka (2002-2003). Zuzana Mankova, who first came as a student, returned as an visiting instructor in 2005-2006. Meanwhile, Miroslav Batka, a student of economics and international relations, attended Roanoke for his full undergraduate education, beginning in the fall of 2003 and ending in the spring of 2007. During the 2010-2011 year the Slovak program was enlivened by the presence of Michael and Katherina Valco at Roanoke College as Copehaver Scholars, with additional support from the Center. The Valcos taught two courses in the fall term and gave several public lectures. In the spring Lubomir Batka, newly elected Dean of the Evangelical Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, visited Roanoke College for a week of lectures and reports.
Two Roanoke College professors have had extended teaching service in Slovakia. Paul Hinlicky, the Tise Professor of Lutheran Studies, was a professor at the Lutheran seminary for six years (1993-1999), where he taught students who have now become doctoral candidates and have taught at Roanoke College. He continues to visit Slovakia to lecture and consult. In the winter term of 2009, Professor Hinlicky led a Semester Abroad Program in Bratislava, Slovakia, for Roanoke College students. Robert Benne, the Director of the Center, has taught two six-week seminars in Christian ethics at the seminary in the spring of 2003 and the fall of 2004.
Slovak students are supported academically by tuition grants from the college. But there are many more expenses to be covered during their stays here--insurance, board and room, and books. Students work while they are here but other funding sources must take up the slack. These are provided by donations from churches and individuals to the Slovak line of the Center's budget. If your church or you are interested in helping to support these students, you are invited to contribute to this cause through the Center.
Roanoke College and its Center are delighted to do their small part in helping the Slovak Lutheran church regain its strength after fifty years of Communist oppression.