February 16, 2019


The UEC is staffed by two directors, an office manager and a library assistant. Part-time workers and volunteers also help at the reception and with housekeeping.

Vitaly Samodin
Valeria Cherednichenko

UEC Directors

Vitaly and Valeria both graduated from International Christian University-Kyiv with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Vitaly serves in ministry with the Nivky Church of Christ. He also started working as the UEC's part-time administrator in June 2006. Valeria was the UEC's first library acquisitions manager. Since September 2007 Vitaly and Valeria serve as UEC directors. Vitaly and Lera got married on May 27, 2006. They have four beautiful daughters, Ivanka, Nadia, Katya and Veronica. Lera and Vitaly lead one of the church's small groups and serve in other capacities at the Nivky church. You can contact them at .

Iryna Kapitonova

UEC Administrator

This year Iryna graduated from the National Aviation University, where many of our patrons study. It was her dream to work at a library and serve students. Iryna is also an active member in a local church. Her sister Luda, a Kyiv Mohyla Academy student, also works part-time at the UEC.



David Ralston,
retired businessperson and an elder of Highland Street Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee





Jerry Collins, Ph.D.
former biomedical engineer and professor at Vanderbilt University and member of the Otter Creek Church of Christ (Nashville, Tennessee)




Mack Wayne Craig, Ph.D.
chaplain for National Health Corporation

Greg Hardeman
attorney and member of Hillsboro Church of Christ (Nashville, Tennessee)

Gary Jerkins, M.D.
ophthalmologist and member of Hillsboro Church of Christ (Nashville, Tennessee)

Paul Prill, Ph.D.
professor of speech communications at Lipscomb University and minister and elder for the Acklen Avenue Church of Christ (Nashville, Tennessee)





Mike Buckley
involvement minister for the Laurel Church of Christ in Knoxville, Tennessee.





Chris and Lena Lovingood
Chris and Lena directed the work of the UEC since its inception till 2007, when they moved back to the US. Now Chris serves as the Executive Director for Nations Ministry Center in Nashville, while Lena works for Belmont University in Nashville, TN.



Directly across the street from the Kyiv Politechnic Institute, the UEC maintains a modern facility in the heart of the Kyiv university community. Two apartments were combined and renovated to create the 1,800 sq. ft. facility. The first floor features a spacious kitchen, the office, the library and computer center and two bathrooms. The second floor currently houses a large meeting room, one small room, a guest room with shower, TV, VCR and DVD player, a study room and one bathroom.

Click here to visit galleries depicting the renovation process. Visit our Renovation page to read the story of how the current facility was found, purchased, and renovated.


The Ukrainian Education Center began as a dream in the mid-1990s among Christian workers in Kyiv, Ukraine. Missionaries observed that university students were very open to the Christian faith and at the same time had many needs. Universities lacked modern textbooks, there were few computers, and students needed a place to spend time together. Small Soviet apartments hosted countless Bible studies, movie nights, and book discussions. The opportunities for ministry cried out for a larger, permanent space.

Slowly, under God's sovereign orchestration, a small base of energetic supporters emerged with David Ralston, the current UEC board president, leading the charge. Ideas crystallized. Prayers were prayed. In March 1999, about 20 gathered in Memphis to discuss possibilities. In January 2000, from a Nashville meeting the name “Ukrainian Education Center” was chosen and a board of directors formed. Chris Lovingood was asked to serve as the Kyiv director and Monica Moreland served as the assistant director. A more concrete vision statement written by the new director was endorsed by the board.

A temporary center (on Dovzhenko Street near the Shulyavska metro station) was soon rented in the heart of Kyiv's university center to explore possibilities. Bogdan Andriychenko, who worked as the project manager, became the work horse in those early days—managing real estate agents and contractors, finding building materials, and developing our first website. As that temporary center took on a life of its own, so did the US-based board. IRS non-profit status was filed for and a fundraising campaign began. The search for the new center began in earnest and after months of frustration and exhilaration, the Kyiv staff and the UEC board agreed to the purchase of two apartments near the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. The first and second floor apartments were bought at a total cost of $85,000 and almost all the funds had been raised by the September 2000 purchase.

With the apartments desperate for complete renovation, a quality contractor was prayed for and God provided through an old Lipscomb student and Kyivite. Renovation began—which included entirely gutting the two apartments--in December 2000 and was completed in fall 2001. The UEC opened its doors to the public on October 4. 2001.

Bogdan Andriychenko, the UEC’s building project coordinator, completed his work with the UEC in May 2002, and Sergiy Lyakh was hired as the UEC’s first manager. Under Sergiy’s leadership, the Center’s library became fully automated and we became more professional in all we do. As Sergiy went on to continue his studies, Vitaly Samodin was hired to replace him in 2006. In 2009, Vitaly and his wife Valeria became UEC directors. Currently, the UEC employees two directors, one full-time manager and one information assistant. Katie Boyer, Joshua and Maurie Hanauer, and Jonathan Shaub have served as interns who worked with local churches and the UEC.

In just a few years, the UEC has emerged as a vibrant space used by hundreds of visitors every week. Our library of over 9,600 items (as of September 2009) grows constantly thanks to donations in Kyiv and from abroad, and the more than 4,300 registered library patrons (as of September 2009) keep our manager and information assistant busy. The many church-sponsored outreach and education opportunities fill the Center to almost maximum capacity.